Archive | August, 2013

Inconceivable!

30 Aug

One of my earliest posts on the Tumblr feed commented on how the general comprehension of the word “nutritious” has declined in our time. This is still one of my favorite posts and is such a popular association that multiple people have independently submitted similar posts using the same gif over the last year.

It’s probably become a favorite of mine because I have many chances to mentally reference it on a daily basis. See, in the last couple years I have noticed a disturbing trend. Nutritious food has become a trending topic in the public consciousness, partially due to the efforts of people like Michael Pollan, but also possibly due to a bleed-over effect from ideas in the paleo and other real-food subcultures. Now, of course I am all for more people eating more nutritious food, whether or not they are paleo, but the problem is that even though people are more aware that they need to eat nutritious food, they unfortunately have no idea what that really means.

Advertisers know this, and have started to capitalize on it. “Nutritious” is a word with a lot of value in the customer’s mind, but—unlike words like “organic”—there is absolutely no regulation about what food does or does not get to be called “nutritious.” So marketers can slap it on pretty much whatever they want. Sound strange? Well they already use this exact strategy with other words we, as consumers, really like but don’t really have a conscious understanding of.

I came across yet another glaring example of this travesty just the other day, in the parking lot of my local medium-box grocery store. Ladies and gentlemen, consider the following:

What is this I don't even—

What is this I don’t even—

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Tools of the Trade: Wire Racks, and Baked Bacon

28 Aug

bakingsheet4The hardest thing about going paleo was learning to cook–and I mean really cook–for the first time in my life. No one in my family cooks (or, at least, not well), so I had to teach myself from scratch using books, websites, tips from friends, and Gordon Ramsey cooking shows (wherein I learned the most important part of cooking is yelling at people). Luckily, somewhere along the way I discovered I have a real passion and creativity for cooking. One thing I’d to do with this blog is share some interesting tips and techniques I’ve come across in the hopes that they help others who also starting from nowhere. Maybe by pointing out the paths that I took, it will lead other people to similar passions of their own.

Anyway, one of the key things I have been learning about along the way is kitchen tools that are essential in a paleo kitchen. Most guides to kitchen supplies out there are written by people who assume a certain minimum of baked goods and pasta in the average kitchen and underestimate the amount of rendered animal fats I have building up on my cooking surfaces. I am also a kitchen minimalist and dislike buying so-called “unitaskers” to clutter up my drawers. So I intend to only recommend supplies that are particularly useful to our unique needs and are an efficient addition to your kitchen.

Today I am discussing one of my first unique purchases, and still one of my favorite: my wire baking racks.

I do love a good rack.

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Tantalus at Dawn

26 Aug

berries2This weekend I went camping for the second time this summer. Unlike my previous trip—which involved a full prep-week making jerky and pemmican and planning paleo meals with the least amount of perishability—this trip simply involved throwing a bunch of crap in the car, driving an hour and a half up to the Sacramento River delta, and plopping down on a picnic table with some board games and boxed wine (protip: not paleo).

Our trip did take an unexpected paleo turn when we discovered that the campground was surrounded by wild blackberry bushes. Not surprisingly, most of these bushes were already picked clean, but a bit of intrepid scrambling along the breakwater lead us to a stand that seemed to be untouched by human hands. There were so many berries that we visited it twice, once each morning, and came away with a big haul both times.

With so much to gather, I had ample time to ruminate on the nature of foraging, a topic often overshadowed in paleo conversations by the much sexier themes of hunting and heavy work. One might even say that it’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the paleo-sphere. But my adventures this weekend definitely proved that it deserves a lot more respect. Continue reading

But What If I Want A Light Snack?

22 Aug

Some good friends of mine are recent converts to paleo, and it’s been adorable watching them make all the first steps and growing pains that we all go through when we start this new path in life. The joy at realizing that bacon is now a health food, the frustration at the “wealth” of foods in the grocery store that are no longer edible, the dawning realization that they need to just stick to the edges of the grocery store, and so on.

The male of the couple, Jim, has gotten especially passionate about nutrient-dense food and hasn’t let his minimal cooking experience hold him back from trying liver recipes (something that I am still working up to). We had an amusing conversation about it the other day:

Jim: This…. http://www.food.com/recipe/mirjs-heart-attack-on-a-plate-chopped-chicken-liver-22420 … is what’s for dinner, bitches.
Jim: This is like, delicious meat paste
Jim: I like how she claims it’s “definitely not healthy”…
Jim: I’m like sheeeeeiiiiiit, bitch, please.
Jim: This is the healthiest thing you’ve eaten in the last month.

I think their conversion has been easy because they were already aware of the importance of “real” food over processed foods. Jim’s wife, Kara, commented that she lost almost 15 pounds after they moved to California last fall, which was way before they went paleo. She chalks it up to eating more fresh food with quality ingredients, which apparently had been lacking in their diet when they were back in the Midwest.

Anyway, Kara just sent me this awesome graphic that she found buried on her G+ feed (yes people use it) from over a year ago, when she first started thinking about the quality of foods. She unfortunately doesn’t remember the source she got it from, but it’s still great for a laugh anyway.

Edit: The most-likely original source has been tracked down. Thanks, wilburfan!

Coconut Horchata Gummy Snacks

20 Aug

coconut_jello_icon)I love gummy things. No, check that; I’ve gone NUTS for gummy things my entire life. Gummy bears, gummy worms, pretty much any gummy [noun], but also jello, the more dense and jiggly the better. I love gummy things so much that when kids in my elementary school started freaking each other out by telling everyone that gummy things were made of boiled bones and hooves (which technically they are, props to my 4th grade peers for their accuracy) I just shrugged and went, “Meh, I’ll live with it.”

Over the years, I’ve realized that my addiction to gummy things might actually be an addiction to gelatin—the protein that forms a matrix and gives jello or candy its dense, chewy consistency—as opposed to the sugar of the candy. I base my hypothesis on two interesting points: 1) Gummy treats made with agar agar (a gelatin-like protein derived from kelp) are not as appealing to me, and 2) The first time I was exposed to Vietnamese pho that contained cooked tendon (which is almost pure gelatin and isn’t sugary at all) I went crazy for it. Another interesting fact is that I have dealt with stiff, creaking, cracking joints my entire life (and two of my cousins have as well). My theory is that something about my dietary history or genetics left me in need of proteins to support healthy connective tissue, which may have led to my cravings.

Since going paleo, I have automatically increased the amount of gelatin in my diet by eating more slow-cooked red meats–rich with connective tissue–and making my own stocks and bone broths. But I still love gummy things, so I decided to go with my instinct and try to get even more gelatin into my regular routine. Obviously I can’t be mainlining gummy bears every day, but luckily the paleo blog-o-sphere is overflowing with interesting homemade gummy recipes. Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites seems to share my craving for all things gelatin and recently posted some recipes for lemon-lime and fresh berry gummy candies, as well as some links to some other fruity recipe ideas. I also stumbled across these recipes for “creamsicle” gummy candies, which I thought was a clever twist.

But while all these recipes look delicious, I wanted something that had less of a fruity punch (lol). Instead of juice, I started playing around with coconut milk and came up with a recipe that is still sweet, but is a lot more subtle and almost has a savory edge to it. I call it “horchata” because it tastes very similar to the sweet, Mexican rice-based drink (which is very much not-paleo but very much delicious). I hope that other people who are looking for less-sweet gummy recipes might find it interesting as well.

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Everything That Ever Made Me Feel Bad About Myself Was Based On A Lie

19 Aug

This was my epiphany moment. I remember it clearly.

I had already been paleo for a few months and things were going very well. I was binging on calorically dense, nutritious food, and my body was loving me for it. At the same time, though, I was starving for information. I spent hours each day reading articles and publications and books explaining why what I was doing was working, looking at the science and the dogmas in a whole new light.

I call this my “deprogramming” period.

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We Can Register It For You Wholesale

16 Aug

Back in May, I posted an entry on the tumblr feed about signing up for the National Weight Control Registry. I had heard about this research program right after I started paleo, but since they only want people to register after they have lost 30 pounds and have kept it off for at least a year. At the time, I had already lost almost 20 pounds in a handful of months so I had no doubt that I would eventually qualify, but in the name of Good Science I decided to wait for the criteria to be met before I registered.

I was only reminded of the program again a few months ago after attending a talk by Dr. Robert Lustig’s at the San Francisco Public Library (the video of which will be posted online eventually. I’m keeping my eye out for it!). At this point, it has been over two years and I am down over 40 pounds, so I figured it was finally time.

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