Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not-So-Paleo Memorial Day Weekend

Sorry for the mini  hiatus. I went on a little vacation to a lake in the north Georgia mountains over Memorial Day weekend. I had lots of fun and ate a TON of food.

This is the perfect example of when I don't eat a strict paleo diet. There are occasions when I let my hair down and just enjoy whatever food is placed in front of me. If someone is going to take the time to cook something for me, I'm going to eat it and be appreciative. (Especially when it's as delicious as the food I was served over the long weekend.)

However, I will say that my stomach didn't appreciate me very much, and I did gain a couple of pounds. But, I'm not worried. A week back on my regular diet, and those will shed right off.

I also used my dad's camera for a lot of these pics. I need to invest in a better camera than my iPhone.

Here are some of the delicious meals and treats I indulged in over the long weekend:


Rib eye, grilled onions, salad and baked potato.
This meal was actually pretty in line with my diet, since I do eat the occasional white potato.

I think the rib eye is the most beautiful cut of meat. So, I took a lot of pictures of it. :)








BBQ
This wasn't my plate ... I did forgo the bread. 

Pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, baked beans and corn salsa.


Peach Pie
Having a slice of this pie was probably my biggest indulgence. It's really hard for me to turn down anything made with Georgia peaches.






Bruschetta




Other meals not pictured here (and even some that actually were on my diet):

  • Grilled chicken lunch
  • Low Country Boil (it's like a craw fish boil but with: shrimp, mussels, sausage, potatoes, onion and corn)
  • Fish fry (Striper and Carp fish w/ hush puppies and Vidalia onion rings)
  • French toast and fried eggs

This is Mike. He was our chef and host for the weekend. It seems like as soon as we all finished one meal, he was already cooking the next.


I had fun indulging in some really fantastic food with my family for the weekend, but I am glad to be back on paleo now. I know my gut is happy about it too. :)
 
To being back on the wagon, and to your good health,

Allison

Monday, May 21, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I'm not sure why there's a universal hatred for Brussels sprouts. I've avoided them for most of my life because of the stigma.

I've changed my tune since I changed my diet. Or, it may just be that my palette has changed since I've gotten older. I love Brussels sprouts now. And they're just so pretty. Like little cabbages.

I eat a lot of veggies. And salads can get old (and time-consuming to assemble). I cook every day, so I'm always looking for new side dishes that don't require a lot of effort. Because, quite frankly, I'm busy. On most weeknights, I get home from work, go for an hour and a half of yoga, then come home, cook dinner, clean the kitchen ... and before I know it, the evening is over. All of that to say, easy is good.


Here's a quick and easy way to roast 'em up for dinner. 
  • Rinse the sprouts, cut off the ends and peel off the outer, wimpy leaves.
  • Cut each sprout in half and place on a lined cookie sheet (Aren't they beautiful?)
  •  Drizzle with olive oil and grind black pepper and salt on top
  • Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes at 375° (This is generally when I do other things I need to do at home for the evening)

They were tender but retained a little crunch. I bet crumbled bacon would have been a terrific addition if I had wanted to take the extra time.

They're a great side dish for just about any cut or kind of meat. The night I made these, I had a nice juicy rib eye with them. The Brussels sprouts also reheated very well, so I also had them at lunch the next day.

Since some parts of Belgium do speak French, bon appetit!


To you good health,
Allison

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cholesterol and Paleo

I've been eating paleo pretty strictly for about six months. It would be a year or so, but I fell off the wagon a bit late last year before I moved ... but I didn't fall totally off. I never reverted back to using synthetic cooking oils, and I've been cooking with lard for a year now. (Though the homemade lard I use now is much better than the stuff I used to buy at the store.)

My mom has been bugging me to have blood work done. Just to make sure the science I'm implementing into my diet isn't totally wrong and going to kill me. There's a history of heart disease on both sides of my family, so it's a valid concern.

Recently, my company offered free health screenings at work, complete with a blood workup. They checked blood sugar, cholesterol levels and blood pressure (along with height and weight, etc.). Perfect timing. The nurses came to me, AND I didn't have to pay for it.

It was really cold in the conference room where they pricked my finger and took my height and weight and such. So, my fingers were reluctant to bleed. (I also blame it on the test requiring me to fast ... I really do need coffee to get my blood pumping, apparently.) Three finger sticks later, I was good to go.

I met with a nurse practitioner to go over my results. This was the fun part. Here are my numbers:

Total Cholesterol: 163
HDL: 88
LDL: 59
Trigs: 77 

She said that I must really avoid saturated fat in order to have such great numbers. To which I replied, "Oh, no. I eat a lot of it. I make my own lard."

I wish I had taken a picture of her face.

I went on to explain my diet. She had never heard of paleo. And was surprised to hear  I eat eggs. A lot of eggs. I cook with butter, lard, and coconut oil. I eat a lot of protein including poultry, pork, fish and red meat. I eat a lot of veggies, and I don't eat any "healthy whole grains" (or any grains really, for that matter).
 
She asked if I have Celiac or a gluten sensitivity. I honestly know. I've been in and out of GI doctors' offices since I was 14 trying to figure that out. They cut me open and took out my gallbladder because it wasn't working, but nothing changed and I never got any conclusive answers. All I know is that eating this way has changed my life, and I don't plan on going back.

My diet is basically diametrically opposed to what the mainstream establishment is telling us to eat. Isn't it sad that a lot of doctors and nurses receive so little training in nutrition? ... I'll avoid that rabbit trail for now.

Cholesterol isn't the whole story when it comes to heart disease either. There have been no studies (clinical, controlled studies) that can definitively link high cholesterol to heart disease. Both patients with high and low cholesterol suffer heart attacks. And dietary cholesterol does not correlate to serum cholesterol.

Chris Kresser has a ton of articles here about heart disease, if you're interested.

I feel I should add some sort of disclaimer in here because health is so subjective. All I'm saying is that this diet has done wonders for me. I feel so good. So healthy. So ... normal on it. And, that's something I've never experienced before. (And as an added bonus, I've lost about 10lbs.)


I enjoyed seeing, in black and white (and red,  yellow and green) that my heart is healthy. But honestly, I don't think this is the best test to best indicate risk of heart disease. I'd like to have a VAP test done. I'll have to ask my doctor about getting one.

But, for now, I'm going to go fry sweet potatoes in some lard.

To your good health,
Allison


Monday, May 14, 2012

Carnitas!


Meat, meat, and more meat.

Since I switched to paleo, I’ve become much more of a meat eater. Not that I wasn’t before, but I’m noticing how much I crave it now. My body likes it.

Have you ever given yourself the challenge of drinking more water? And when you do, you realize how much you crave it? And how other beverages start to not taste as good? It’s kind of like that.

I need the protein. It’s also very filling, and I run a lot longer on protein (and fat) without getting hungry than I ever did on grains/refined carbs.

I got the idea for making carnitas from a podcast I recently discovered, Everyday Paleo. (It’s a fantastic podcast for anyone who wants to learn more about paleo, or even if you’re new to the idea.)

I was inspired to make carnitas after hearing Dain (the host of the show) talk about it on podcast. I emailed him, and he kindly gave me the recipe/method.

 Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Pork butt (yes, that’s the actual term)
  • Lard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bell pepper (sliced)
  • Onion (sliced)

Here’s how I made it:

Carnitas
  • Rub the pork butt with lard.
  • Season it with salt, pepper and garlic power.
 

  1.  
  2.  








  • Put it in a Dutch oven and cook it in the oven on LOW (about 200º-215º) “all freaking day” (this equaled about 9–10 hours for me).
  • When it’s finished cooking, the meat will literally fall apart and off the bone. Separate the meat and remove the bone.


 


  • In a cast iron skillet, “refry” up the pork. This actually changes the flavor and texture of the meat quite a bit. I recommend only refrying the amount of pork you’re going to eat for that meal. Save the rest in the fridge and fry it up when you’re ready to eat it.













Onions and Peppers
  • Just fry ‘em up in a skillet with a little lard until tender.


The Sauce
  • For the sauce: Mix up some of the lard that rendered in a separate bowl with a little mustard and apple cider vinegar.

  • Plate a serving of the onions and peppers. Top with the pork and pour a little of the sauce over it, and get ready for a little fiesta in your mouth.

The sauce is really what ties it all together. While each item is delicious on its own, once it's all on the plate together, it turns into something magical!

Enjoy!

To your good health,
Allison

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Chips

I’ve always had more of a salty tooth than a sweet tooth. So, when I switched to paleo, it wasn’t giving up cakes and ice cream that proved the most difficult. It was potato chips.

Now, I really don’t have much of a problem with white potatoes. I probably eat one per week or so. They are starchy and loaded with carbs, but overall, in moderation, I tolerate them well. My aversion to potato chips on the paleo diet is the synthetic, toxic oil they’re fried in.

So, I’ve started making my own chips using quality coconut oil and my homemade lard. I use sweet potatoes because I will eat a ton of these chips, and I don’t want to eat white potatoes in that quantity.

It’s a bit time consuming, but sooooo worth it.

You’ll need:

-A mandolin slicer (or a sharp, thin knife and excellent slicing skills)
-One sweet potato
-1/2 cup coconut oil
-1/2 cup lard

Heat the oils in a small cast iron skillet over high heat. (If you use a large cast iron skillet, you’ll need a lot more oil.)

Slice the sweet potato. If you’re using a mandolin, be sure to use the provided hand guard. I almost seriously cut myself once by forgoing it.

Using tongs, place about ¼ of the slices in the melted, very hot oil. Let them fry for 20–30 seconds or so until small blisters start to appear.Then flip for another 20-30 seconds.

Remove the chips from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with salt.

Now, I like them a little brown. They’re crispier that way, but you can remove them earlier if you want.

Repeat these steps until you’ve fried all of your slices.


There are tons of other sweet potato chip recipes out there. Most of which you bake. I’ve made sweet potato fries by baking them, but I prefer frying when making chips in order to satisfy that craving for Lays.

Learn more about why salt isn't bad for you in this series of articles by Chris Kresser. 

Enjoy!

To your good health,
Allison

Monday, May 7, 2012

Typical Weekend Fare

The most common question I get about my diet is, “So, you don’t eat bread, biscuits, pancakes, toast, pasta or anything with wheat … what DO you eat?” Or, something along those lines.

To answer that question, here are a couple of typical meals I eat on the weekends.

Dinner: Ground Chicken (or Turkey) Portobello Burgers with Cajun Sweet Potato Fries

I got this recipe from the Make It Paleo cookbook. It’s a terrific resource, and the photos are gorgeous. The recipe calls for ground turkey, but ground chicken was on sale so I got that. Just mix the spices into the ground meat, grill it up and add some toppings. I promise it’s as filling as a real burger … without the carb coma from the bun after.




Breakfast: Egg Scramble with Sausage and Fixins

As I’ve said before, I don’t typically eat breakfast because I’m generally not hungry until a few hours after I wake up. But, I still love breakfast food, and breakfast is probably the easiest meal to paleo-fy.

This is a typical breakfast for me. I sautéed onions in a tablespoon (or two) of lard, then added the eggs and spinach. I fried up some sausage (bacon would be good too). Then sliced up an avocado and tomato, plated it and added a hefty scoop of sauerkraut.




And, I didn’t get a picture of this dinner. On Sunday, we went over to my parent’s house to grill. We grilled chicken, salmon and bacon-wrapped sweet onions. We also had a big, hearty salad.

I'll start posting more of the meals I make to give you ideas.

Also, over the weekend, I made pork butt/pulled pork/carnitas for the first time. Post coming soon!

To your good health,
Allison