Practical Paleo Review – Part 1

Hey everyone! Okay, I’m doing a series this week. Three posts reviewing Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites, which is also a three-part book. See how it works? I got an advanced copy of the book (for free, which I think means that I’m a real blogger now?) to review and share with you all before the book comes out on August 7th. I’ve been soaking this thing up since I got it, and just finally got my lazy butt around to writing it up. You know how I am. Okay, let’s get started.

The first part is called “The Why – Food and Your Body” and it’s the background info. This is all about what different foods do inside your body, and how you can choose what you eat to get you the health results that you want. I’ve read a lot of stuff on paleo nutrition (a lot a lot) but I can say without hesitation that is is one of the most thorough treatments of the subject I’ve come across. Most books will have some fluffy filler stuff, but Diane really just gets right to the meat and sweet potatoes (see what I did there?) of the biggest issues in paleo land, talking about the basics of digestion, what causes leaky gut and what a leaky gut can do to you. She also gets into how you can survive eating away from home, which is always a big question for people, and even goes into the history of failed nutritional policy in America. Awesome stuff! She really manages to cover much more ground that I would have thought possible, but manages to give everything the depth and breadth that it needs to make sense without belaboring any of it. As a man who lives to belabor, I’m legit impressed with her ability to make things clear without just soaking up space with extra words. This is a heck of a section, and one that I’d be happy to refer people to if they want a full breakdown of what the paleo diet is about, how we all got here and why it works for us. It’s excellent! I also really liked the guide to dense paleo carbs, largely because it follows the section where she explains that paleo isn’t necessarily low-carb, and that quality, non-irritating carb sources can definitely have a place in your paleo diet. That’s so refreshing to have it just laid out like that in black and white (and color!). So many people just miss the boat on that issue, both paleo folks and non-paleo folks. Diane explains why there are such things as good carbs (nutrient-dense foods) and bad carbs (refined sugars and grains without any nutrients) and who should be eating how many to reach their goals. It’s really very cool how she lays it all out.

Let’s talk about style. The book is beautiful and big! Laid out very nicely, and extremely colorful. It’s like a coffee table book, really. There’s plenty of text, but it’s all interspersed with photos and diagrams and whatnot. The pictures of the food are artistic, and the guides are well-organized and easy to use. The guides! Dude, let me tell you about the guides. So she’s got these one-page guides basically summarizing a lot of different concepts or whatever. Let me get you some examples. There are 11 of these one-page guides in the first section, from a very comprehensive list of paleo-friendly foods, to a full-color guide to your poop (seriously, it’s in there and it’s fascinating). Some of these are things that I’ve trawled the net for, trying to cobble together an understanding, and she just gets it all summarized on one page. Specifically, I’m thinking of the guide to food quality. Diane lays out which meats are best, which are okay and which to avoid, then does the same with eggs, dairy, seafood and produce. It’s really very cool! An explanation of all the terms right on one page. And then, and this is a big and then, those same guides are available as tear-out pages in the back of the book. This is brilliant. You can put ’em in a notebook, magnet them to your fridge, whatever. The best part is that they’re doubled up. Pulling out the ones in the back doesn’t mean that now your book is devoid of guides, so you can always still refer back to the book. You just have extra guides, all full color, to do with as you will. It’s an awesome idea, and one I really wish someone else had thought of before.

Finally, let’s get into the little goodies she’s got tucked away in here. For one, she’s got Section 2, which I’m really excited about, and all of her food guides include lists of things that are nightshades or FODMAPs. That’s awesome. She explains what those are and why certain people would want to avoid them in Part 1, then sets up meal plans that either include or exclude those, depending on your health issues in Part 2, then in Part 3 she shares all her recipes and when one of the ingredients falls into one of those categories, she makes note of it and gives you a safe alternative for your eating plan. It’s really cool and thorough! She also has brand recommendations throughout, which I also love. Because food and supplement quality can vary so widely between brands, it’s super handy to have someone just come out and say which brands are good. I know I can buy them and test them myself, or research them myself, but seriously it’s nice sometimes to just have someone tell you straight up “Applegate Naturals lunch meats are solid. Go with those.” Even if you’d already been eating them, it feels really good to get the confirmation.

Okay, I’ll stop now. I’m trying really hard not to quote large swaths of the text at you here, because there’s so much good stuff that I want to share. I’ll get to the next section hopefully tomorrow, but you know how reliable I’ve been lately with my blogging predictions (Sure, I’ll blog every day oh wait I mean the opposite of that) but I’m definitely excited about this book and want to share it all with you folks. I’ll be back soon to talk about Part 2, though. For reals, ya’ll. Thanks for reading!

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Monday Monday

Greetings! We had a big weekend, and I finally uploaded my pics of mayo. So here’s all of it, briefly. As briefly as I can do anything, that is.

Before I get to that, I wanted to tell you guys that I’ve been reading my review copy of Practical Paleo, and it’s amazing. I’m not nearly as far into it as I’d like to be (busy weekend, as I mentioned) but it’s already a fantastic resource for anyone interested in paleo. Great information, organized beautifully, with enough depth to answer most any question you could have. I’m really, really impressed. I even made a recipe from one of the earliest reviews of the book that I saw, and it turned out very well. It was a little spicy for me, I think because I misread the recipe (the recipe makes it look like you want to put all of the spices listed into the burger mix, but you actually want to mix all of those ingredients together separately, and then add 2 Tbsp of that mix into the meat) so I ended up adding more of the spices than I should have. I doubled the meat but didn’t double the spices, thankfully, so it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. Next time, though, I’ll definitely be cutting the spices down to the amount actually listed in the recipe. The pineapple topping was excellent, and that’s going to be a regular as well. I didn’t use the ginger or the sesame seeds, because I didn’t have any on hand. So really, it ended up pineapple chunks with juice and a little water, crushed up, with a couple tablespoons of Tamari in it. Not at all what the recipe called for, but I’m a free spirit. And it was still good.

I also had some cherry sorbet last night, and it has convinced me that I absolutely need to make my own. Maybe a lemon cherry? or pineapple cherry? Anyway, I’m going to do it and it’s going to be awesome. I’ll figure it out and share the recipe.

As for me, I’m still doing my Convict Conditioning, and still enjoying it a great deal. Some of the exercises I’m doing now are actually pretty challenging, and others are still easy, which is to be expected. I’m just slowly working my way through all of it, making steady progress. I’m still easily staying under 210 lbs and 15% body fat,which is a good thing. I’ve convinced myself officially to do a Whole 30 now, and I’ve even got some friends who will do it with me. I’m thinking September.

Okay, here’s the mayo recipe: Paleo Mayo

Here’s how I did it.

These are your ingredients. The “Extra Light Tasting” olive oil is key. You don’t want to use extra virgin, as the stronger flavor will overpower your mayonnaise flavor. Maybe if you wanted to make some kind of garlicky, olivey base mayo to use in a caesar dressing it would work? I’ll have to try it sometime, I guess. if you were better prepared than I am, you might also have fresh squeezed lemon juice available. Also, most mayo recipes just call for plain yellow mustard, but I kinda like using some stoneground stuff. Your mileage may vary.

Okay, this is the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and egg yolks. i was supposed to use whole eggs, but wasn’t paying attention to my recipe. D’oh! its cool, it still turned out just fine.

Okay, blend it/process it/whisk it, whatever. Get it mixed. Put your lid on and get ready to drizzle.

This little hole right here is why my food processor is my mayo-making machine of choice. I can just pour the olive oil into this cup and it will very slowly drizzle into the processing chamber. It makes it impossible to rush, and makes the whole thing very painless. So there you go, really. you just drizzle your oil into the mixer while you’re mixing, and it should form an emulsion. As the emulsion comes together, you’ll see it start to look like mayonnaise and get all creamy. Once it does this, you can keep adding oil slowly and the oil will continue to get incorporated into the mayonnaise, but if you do too much of it you can end up with an oily mouth feel. Not ideal. So use the cup of oil as your guideline, but you’ll really just need to make mayo a couple of times to get a feel for how it looks when you’re done.

Okay, there it is. Homemade paleo mayo. Ta-da! It’s good stuff, and this ended up being a very small batch, compared to previous batches. Maybe the yolk-only makes it form an emulsion faster, requiring less oil and making for less volume? Now that I’ve got a better feel for mayo (and a new recipe to try in Practical Paleo) I’m thinking I may have to try bacon mayo again. We eat a lot of bacon and always save our drippings, which basically makes our mayo free. A couple eggs are like less than $1, regardless of where we buy them, and a tablespoon of a few things I’ve got plenty big containers of aren’t worth calculating the price on. With fat from bacon we’re going to eat anyway forming the bulk of the mayonnaise, how can I say no? I’ll do that and maybe run it in video format for you guys so you can see how it goes.

Can a Christian be a Paleo Diet Advocate? – An interesting post, and one that I’d imagine comes up for people when talking to friends and family, or when trying to decide for themselves whether this is the lifestyle for them. I think it’s clear that a Christian can be a proponent of this way of eating, even if they reject the notion of evolution. Evolution provides the “why” of the paleo diet (Why don’t we deal well with grains, generally speaking? Why do we deal well with meat? Why does our digestive system look different from that of our closest living relatives?) but you don’t need the why for it to work for you. That’s the best part of science, I think. You don’t need to believe it, agree with it, or even be aware of it for it to work, consistently and predictably. So if you think the Earth was called into being 6000 years ago, or if you think it was spun into being from the matter thrown out of a supernova 6 billion years ago, eating this way will still help to keep you lean, healthy and happy. And that’s something we can all agree is a good thing.

At what temperature are food enzymes destroyed? – I figured I’d post this one to see what people think about it. Generally when you hear people arguing about food enzymes, they’re about three quarters of the way to advocating for a raw vegan diet. Obviously, this isn’t the case for Sarah. So what gives? We know that cooking makes food more digestible, can give us greater access to certain nutrients, makes food easier to chew, etc. Cooking is generally good, right? How concerned ought we to be about “food enzymes” anyway? There are even arguments about whether whole foods even contain the enzymes that people are worried about destroying (many sources claim that there isn’t any lactase in raw milk, while raw milk advocates claim there is). So who knows? But apparently if there are enzymes in your food and you don’t want to kill them, your finger can tell you when the liquid is too hot. So there you go.

Another way to pit cherries – Definitely a good way to go, especially if you’re going to use the cherries for something where they don’t need to look all pretty. Alton Brown would be proud of this multi-tasking!

I’m 95% Confident This is a Good Definition of a P-Value – If you read a lot of scientific studies, but aren’t too keen on the statistics side of things, this is a really helpful piece detailing what those p-values mean, and how useful they are.

How to Spot an A-Hole – It’s the internet. They’re everywhere.

Ancient Wisdom Confirmed by Modern Science – I remember reading Tom Naughton’s interview of this guy a while back and thinking that his book sounded pretty darned cool. I never ended up buying it, because I had (and still have) a giant stack of books on my nightstand that were already being neglected. Still, it’s cool to see that Johnathan Bailor is tying in to the ancestral health movement. The more the merrier!

Grains, Vegetarians, Vegans and Nutritional Density – This is a cool piece, and one I’ve done something similar to before, though not as throughly. I like the idea of it, but i think it can get too far into nutritionism. Because the calories reported on a bomb calorimeter and the amount of protein/minerals/vitamins reported in a lab for a given food have only a passing relationship with what your body actually gets out of that food. We’re all individuals, and our food is individual. Our digestion, where and when our food was grown, how far it traveled after harvest or slaughter, how it was raised, even what time of day we eat or how much sleep we got the night before all seem to influence our ability to absorb nutrients. So I get what he’s saying, and I think it’s a fair point. I think it’s also probably very convincing to people who really do think of whole foods as “a good source of vitamin C” or “100% of your RDA for selenium” but once you get to a more nuanced understanding of nutrition and digestion, it doesn’t actually pay to spend too much time fiddling with the numbers like this. I’m sure Mr. Nikoley is well aware of this, and wrote this post to make a point, not to advocate for a nutritionist approach.

Paleo Parenting: Our Free Guide – Woot! Free things about feeding kids real food!

Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption – I’ve posted things similar to this before, but this article (and I’m sure the book it’s referencing) have a more in-depth take of the issue than I’ve seen previously. Some specific facts & figures as well as some quotes from prominent doctors, pharmaceutical executives, journal editors, etc. It’s scary stuff. This is the sort of thing that makes you not want to listen to any mainstream science, or at least not trust it without verifying who paid for it and how it was designed first. That’s the most frustrating thing. Pure science is an incredible tool for understanding ourselves and our world. Thinking that the system of funding and publishing we have now is a failure doesn’t mean you hate science, it means you hate what a bunch of assholes have done to science.

Artichoke Dip – If you use some homemade mayo, fresh garlic and some good quality parmesan (maybe even fresh artichokes?) you could make this into a high-quality primal dip for veggies. Or a topping for burgers/steaks/chicken? Sounds crazy tasty to me.

Chareva’s Kitchen: Pancake Sandwiches – I love this idea. We’ve struggled trying to find gluten-free bread with the right texture and flavor, but Pamela’s pancake mix is pure gold every time. If you want a gluten free, semi-paleo PBJ, you could do worse than a Pamela’s pancake with Justin’s Honey Almond Butter and some Crofter’s all-fruit jam.

Easy and Delicious Sausage Frittata – This just sounds tasty. I love frittatas, mostly because I never mastered the technique of an actual omelet.

I have many more links, but this is already a hefty load for one day. I’m going to try to post every day until I get through all the stuff I want to share with you guys. Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow!

All links all the time!

Okay, so I’ve gotten a few other things done recently, but not a ton. I cooked up some steaks, made a pot roast, ate a metric load of broccoli with clarified butter and generally hung out. Life is good and pretty tame. I did finally make another batch of mayo and took pictures, but I haven’t uploaded them yet. Such a slacker! I’ll get it, though. And this mayo is primarily for use as an ingredient to make dressings, so I’ll probably have to make more of it for use in tuna salad and the like. I might even do video of the next batch, since I’m not thinking the pictures are really doing it justice. We’ll see.

I also wanted to mention (read: gloat) that I got my review copy of Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites! I just grabbed it out of my mailbox on the way to work so I haven’t had time to read it yet. I just looked at the cover and it’s gorgeous! Can’t wait to get home tonight and dig in. I’ll write up a proper review here once I’ve got more to say. So excited!

Okay, just links today! I’ve been reading like mad and I’ve got a giant pile of links to share. I hope you’re ready for a drink from the fire hose!

Want to lose fat? Count your hormones, not your calories – I think this article really makes a lot of sense, and I love seeing something that isn’t the standard “energy balance” paradigm in a mainstream news source.

Should cities allow backyard chickens? – Yes. Yes, they should. What about concerns about noise and smell, or about the animals getting out and spreading disease? As for noise and smell, how would the city handle a noisy or smelly animal that didn’t lay eggs? There are already rules in place governing this stuff, and there’s no reason to ban a whole class of animals because they might cause a problem we already know how to solve. The same holds true for the animals escaping or spreading disease. If the city allows, dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, etc as pets, then it has no reason to worry more about chickens than any of those. What if your homegrown hens caught the bird flu and then ran off to a factory farm and gave it to all those chickens? First off, those chickens are so doped up on antibiotics I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but if my homegrown chicken can get access to them, then certainly any other bird could as well. Is the city going to outlaw all birds now to protect a chicken-torturer? I would hope not.

How did we come to believe saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for us? – Dr. Attia is awesome, as always. He does the run through the history of nutritional science, which we’ve seen before from other sources. I like his take on it, and I think he’s an excellent speaker, so this might be my new primary when I want to send someone a scholarly view of the topic. Fat Head will still be my go-to for the fun ones, though, because Tom Naughton is my homeboy (I really wish Tom Naughton was my homeboy).

F-lux – Such a cool idea!

Jerky: It’s so paleo – It really is, and it’s also delicious. I’ve been making noises about making my own for a while, but after having had some store-bought stuff this weekend, I’m re-inspired to make it happen. Look for it before too long, hopefully!

Amount of meat we eat will barely affect future climate change – As a rebuttal to the argument that “Everyone can’t eat paleo, so nobody should” (does that kind of nonsense even need a rebuttal? Well we have one, just in case.) this article shows that the difference made by reducing our meat consumption would be minimal, and pales in comparison to other changes we might make. So there.

Tim Noakes on the Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports – An interview with a doctor who says we shouldn’t be drinking as much as we’ve been told during exercise. Definitely an interesting piece! brings some evolutionary theory into the mix too, which I dig on, of course.

Homemade Bacon – This. I want to do this. Because he’s right. Finding humanely-raised pork is a trick, Niman Ranch bacon being sold at Costco notwithstanding. I would love to try this out sometime, and see what real, quality, traditional bacon really tastes like.

Does Sunlight Prevent Myopia? – Mark Sisson tackles a question I’ve been wondering about. If our ancestors lived in the sun (and they did) then mustn’t we have some methods in place to deal with sun exposure to the eye without damage? It sounds like beyond that, getting out into bright sunlight is actually good for our eyes, rather than being harmful. Which honestly makes sense. Sun on the skin does us so much good, why should our eyes need to be in a cave while our body benefits from being on the beach? Just don’t look at the sun for over an hour. It’ll burn your eyes out.

Hot or not? Potato Board Tries to un-Dud the Spud – I like this article for a couple of reasons. For one, it shows that people seem to be paying attention to some of the good info out there about maybe they should cut back on the carbs. Second, it shows that when gov’t actually tried to limit potato consumption by kids in school lunches, the potato lobby stepped in and stopped it.

5 High Fat Foods to make You Skinny – Another mainstream media piece that’s not fat-phobic! Good stuff, for sure, even though I’d love to see them stop calling saturated fats unhealthy. We can’t always get what we want, but it’s still a great step in the right direction.

Okay, that should do it for now. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

We be jammin’, but less so

Okay, so a couple nights ago I ate the tiny little bit of jamsicle that I’d frozen in a cup. It was good. Crazy sweet, but good. Too sweet, though, to eat a whole popsicle’s worth in a sitting. And this coming from the man who used to consider a one-pound bag of Skittles ‘one serving’. Anyway, I have to figure this out. So I melted the popsicles into the measuring cup again, and added a can of coconut milk. I whisked it all together, then poured it back into the popsicle molds and, since there was more volume than previously, I also ended up making a few extra tiny cups on the side. It all went into the freezer overnight.

In the morning, it was glorious. The coconut cut the sweetness just right, and added a bit of coconut flavor that worked well with the strawberry. It also really helped the pops to freeze to the sticks, which was an issue I hadn’t anticipated with the original jamsicles, but which became apparent when I was trying to pull them out to let them thaw. So I think it was a success, overall. Unfortunately, Jenna didn’t really care for them, which sort of defeats the purpose. D’oh! Back to the drawing board, I guess. Maybe just the strawberry puree with the honey, without anything being cooked down? Or maybe half the strawberry puree cooked down and the other half not? We’ll see. Sounds like a series of delicious experiments, to me.

Speaking of which, I also created a batch of ranch dressing based on Mark Sisson’s recipe. I’ve only tasted it, and haven’t actually used it for anything properly yet, so I’m not sure how it’ll pan out. I’m a little worried that it will be too much dairy for me, unfortunately. I hear there’s a way to make a mayonnaise-based ranch dressing that I may have to work out. In any case, I made this one and it definitely does taste like ranch dressing!

I also wanted to let you all know that I’ve bumped up my pullups and squats to the next level. Now I’m doing horizontal pulls and jackknife squats. Interesting stuff, for sure! My knees make horrible noises at me when I get into a full squat position, but there’s no pain or discomfort, just a lot of sound. I’m taking it very slowly, of course, and will see if the full range squats seem to be causing me any pain as I ramp up my numbers on them. If so, I might have to do just half squats or something for a while while I build up the strength of the connective tissue in there. If it continues even past that, I’ll probably have to have them looked at.

Okay, link time!

Everything in Moderation – This is good. Moderation is a useless term unless it is defined, and by its very nature, it is never defined. You can use it to justify a big piece of cake after an already big meal, or you can use it to justify skipping a workout. Oddly enough, people rarely use this thinking to justify a little extra salad or 10 more pushups.

Why Aren’t Humans Adapted to Grains? – Yes, this is awesome. Fantastic explanation.

Barbecuing may be traditional, but is it healthy? – I’ve seen articles similar to this a number of times and figured I’d finally post one up here. This one is pretty comprehensive, comparatively, so it makes sense to go with it over some of the others. In any case, I’m not going to stop grilling, but I have definitely moved to indirect heat to avoid getting any charred meat/fat on my steaks and burgers. I also don’t grill all that much in the grand scheme. Maybe once a week, on average? And it’s always with indirect heat anymore, so I’m hoping that I’m at least reducing whatever nasties are in there. My overall take on this is that I could probably optimize my diet and avoid some nasty stuff by not grilling anymore, but it really isn’t worth it to me. With my current balance of good food, good sleep, moderate exercise and decent sun exposure, I’m about a kerblillion lightyears ahead of where I was last year, health-wise. I’ll continue improving, but I don’t think I’m going to give up grilling entirely at any point. I have so many other areas i could improve first that I know are doing more harm.

Wasp Spraying – This is just a cool idea. Just spray them far away from me, please.

Evolutionary Medicine 101 – Great piece! He touches on a number of issues, and brings up a wide range of concepts that I think should definitely be on them inds of medical students. “Normal” and average shouldn’t mean the same thing. The average cholesterol level of an unhealthy population isn’t likely to be the optimal level, but we tend to assume that we can push everyone towards the middle of the bell curve and make them healthier. Doesn’t really make sense when you think about it, but too few people really think about it, I fear.

The Straight Dope on Cholesterol, Part VIII – Dr. Attia’s back, this time with a discussion about whether there is any benefit to testing blood lipid parameters outside the traditional panel. He says yes, but a recent report says no. I’m inclined to agree with him on this one, and he gives great explanations for why he thinks there’s good reason to test other aspects of cholesterol.

The Straight Dope on Cholesterol, Part IX – What should you eat to delay the onset of cardiovascular disease? Dr. Attia runs through the literature on this one, pulling the best information we have available to see what really causes CVD and what we can do to help reduce our risks of developing CVD for ourselves. You might have guessed that it involved cutting sugars, because I think we all know at this point that sugar’s pretty bad for us, especially in the vast quantities that make up the SAD. Almost done with this series!

Egg Turkey Cups – Okay, I dig these.

All done! Thanks for reading and we’ll catch up soon. Enjoy!

Accidental Strawberry Jamsicles

Yeah, that’s what I said. So my wife loves her some strawberry popsicles, right? Like for realsies. I’ve tried a few different formulations, including one where i simply pureed frozen strawberries and poured them into the molds. Those tasted much like you’d imagine they would. They were okay, but they weren’t really what she’d been craving. I ate them all, of course, but I’ve been wanting to try something else for her. For one, because I’m thinking that we could likely save ourselves some money by making our own, and also because I’d rather see her eating something made with quality ingredients. I’d love to wean her off the sweets, but she’s a grown-ass woman who can do what she wants. As long as she’s going to be eating them, it’s better if shes at least eating real food sweets instead of corn syrup and the like, and that’s something I can help with.

So, that’s why I tried something else last night. We got a couple pounds of organic strawberries on sale from the grocery. They weren’t the prettiest things, but certainly worthy of going into the food processor. I also grabbed some of our local, raw, unfiltered honey. I’m not basing this on any sort of recipe, mind you, I’m just playing around here. Okay, let’s get started.

Strawberry Jamsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 Lbs. Organic Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup Honey

Here we go. Two packages of strawberries and some honey.

Wash ’em up, cut the tops off and put them into your food processor. Probably a blender would work, too? Puree until they’re pretty much just a smooth liquid.

Yeah, that’s it. When it looks like this, you’re done pureeing.

Now get your 1/2 cup of honey. Pour that and the puree into a saucepan. The mixture will expand a bit as it cooks, so use a bigger one than you think you’ll need. I used my 8-qt pot and that was perfect.

Okay, there you go. Whisk the honey into the puree and turn the stove onto medium-low. You can push to medium and it’ll go faster, but you run the risk of burning it if you don’t sit right there and stir constantly. I wanted to be free to go do other things, so I left mine on medium low and just came back to stir every few minutes.

When it starts to simmer, it’ll look like this. There’s a lighter-colored sort of foam that rises to the top. You just keep simmering and stirring until that starts to go away. That’s how you know you’ve cooked off most of the water, and you’re getting where you want to be.

As you keep stirring, you’ll notice that the foam takes over the surface every time you stir, and then when you let it sit for a while, the bubbles breaking the surface will move the foam out of the way, showing the darker red underneath. You just stir it up again and again until there’s no longer any foam on the surface.

That’s it. When it looks like this, you’re all done. There’s no more foam, just a red glaze that looks kinda shiny.

Okay, I poured the glaze into this measuring cup because it has a spout on it so I can pour it into my molds more easily. If you wanted to ladle it out or something, this step isn’t actually necessary. You want to cool this a bit, just enough so you don’t damage your molds. You can stick it in the fridge for a few hours or do what I did and just bury it in a bowl of ice.

Now that the glaze is cool, you can pour it into your molds. I think I mentioned before that I have this set and really like them a lot. I’ve used them several times and they work great.

There you go. I leave some pace for expansion at the top. The extra goes into tiny little cheapy Glad storage cups that also go into the freezer.

Pop your handles on, put in the freezer overnight, and enjoy!

Now here’s the thing. These are called Jamsicles because they taste like strawberry jam. Legit. it’s like you just got a spoon out and dug into a jar of strawberry jam. If that’s your jam, so to speak, then more power to you. You will not be disappointed. it’s actually too sweet for us, though. I wouldn’t have thought that half a cup of honey would be too much for that many strawberries. The ice cream recipe I’ve been using called for 1/4 cup of honey per one 16-oz can of coconut milk, and this stuff is easily double that volume, even once it’s cooked down. Sure the strawberries themselves are going to be sweet, but that sweet? I guess so. So my options are these. Power through these and deal with the mind-shattering sweetness that goes along with them, or I can re-melt my pops, mix in a can or two of coconut milk, and then re-make them. I’m thinking I’ll try the second option. I like to do fat with my sweets when possible to slow down the digestion so I don’t hit my system quite so hard. Next batch, I’ll try zero honey and see how that tastes, and maybe it’ll end up being sweet enough or maybe it’ll end up being 1/4 cup of honey that works better. In any case, I’ll keep experimenting and let you know.

How about some more links? Yes, have some.

(Re)defining Paleo – This is awesome. Legit. You should read this and understand it. It’s such a great primal primer, I think it should come on a card so we can all just pull it out and read it to anyone who asks us about it. She covers everything, really. She doesn’t rely on evolutionary theory, doesn’t demand low-carb, and allows for personal variation. A masterpiece, I say.

A Pressure Cooker for the 21st Century – This looks so cool! I really like the idea of a one-stop shop for slow cooking, steaming, browning, etc. Right now we have a number of different machines doing those jobs, and simplifying would be pretty great. Amazon offers it for $120 with free shipping, here.

New Study: Is a calorie a calorie? – You might have seen this study recently, and Dr. Guyenet has a neat summary of it with his thoughts. It goes to show that some diets seem to fare better than others when it comes to maintaining weight loss after a significant drop. As always, I like Dr. Guyenet’s take on this stuff, since he adds a measured view that isn’t specifically tied to either paleo or low-carb, which tend to be the two groups I most associate with.

Good science, bad interpretation – Dr. Attia goes after the same study, and really explains it well. He differs with Dr. Guyenet in that he thinks it does show significant benefits to carbohydrate restriction. Reading both takes on it is fascinating, as I love both of these guys.

Reading the Scientific Literature – Helpful piece by Dr. Feinman discussing how you can spot bad science.

Okay, let’s call it good there. Thanks for reading!

A collection of links

Back again! I took off work most of last week and since work is where I do most of my blogging, things got quiet. I wasn’t quiet, though.

I’ve continued with my Convict Conditioning progression and have reached the progression standard on two of my exercises. They are the vertical pull and the shoulderstand squat. Both are very easy, which is kind of the point, and i was able to concentrate on getting my form and cadence right for them. I’m going to move on in both of those series, and I’m hoping to be ready to move forward on pushups and knee raises within the next few weeks, too. I can see how people might get bored with the slow progression, and I think I probably would’ve been bored of it as well at most times in my life. For right now, though, it really works with my schedule and my goals. it’s all about timing, right?

I’ve tried a few new recipes, some of which I liked better than others. This one was really good, though I think I need to make a few changes next time, since it didn’t come out as well for me as I would’ve liked. It’s a Skillet Hash and Eggs. If you’re not into white potatoes, you could definitely use sweet potatoes to make it more paleo. Or hey, leave the potatoes out entirely and do cauliflower or something. I’m just spit-balling here. You can also add cheese to it if cheese is your thing. here’s what I did wrong, so hopefully you can avoid the same mistake: I microwaved my potatoes as directed. That was a bad idea. They didn’t need to be cooked ahead of time, and they just ended up being kinda half-baked by the time I started trying to peel them. So lame. Because of this, I had to cut them fairly large, as they simply weren’t stable enough to cut into small chunks. next time, I’ll cut them quite small (1/4″-1/2″ chunks, probably using my v-slicer) and won’t pre-cook at all. i think the texture would be better, and it would mean less work on my part. Winning all around. I also cooked this in my enameled cast iron dutch oven, which I love, but which is a bit too deep for this application. Next time I’ll just use my regular cast iron skillet, at least until I get myself one of these: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet I did really like pre-cooking the sausage and onions in the butter, so I think I’ll stick with that for sure. I’m also thinking about frying up my eggs separately. Issue here is that my wife likes her yolks solid and I like mine runny, especially in a hash-type situation. So frying the eggs separately and then just putting them on top seems like a reasonable solution. I’ll keep trying and get back to you. All in all, this was a really delicious breakfast option. I’m thinking I might mix it up a bit, too. Maybe use some Beeler’s Breakfast Sausage links instead of kielbasa or something to make it even more breakfasty. If you try this, let me know how it works for you!

Okay, that’s enough of that. Links, now?

Low Carb vs Low Fat Studies – This is cool, primarily because it comes from Lifetime. I mentioned before that their head of weightloss is a fan of low-carb so I’m not super surprised by this. Still, every time I see them focusing more on what really works and less on what the USDA tells them should work, I get happy.

Genetic Engineers Explain Why GE Food is Dangerous – Does what it says on the tin. Very much worth reading.

Why Cavemen Didn’t Die Young – Some of the arguments in here are better than others, and there’s one key point that wasn’t made. Evolution requires that a significant number of the members of a species die before they reach reproductive age. If everyone gets there, there’s no natural selection. There’s no survival of the fittest. There’s genetic drift, and that’s all. A significant number of a species dying at 25 when they reach sexual maturity in the 12-16 range, have 1-2 children at a time, gestate for 9-10 months, and go 2-3 years between babies doesn’t make any sense at all, honestly. Anyone who actually survives to sexual maturity would need to live a nice long time and have many children in order for the species to survive and evolve. Make sense? So all this nonsense about paleolithic humans dying early is exactly that. They had hard lives, and many, many individuals would have died young due to illness, injury, deformity or simply not being able enough to survive the world around them. People who fail to understand this fact, and the effect that it will have on a mean lifespan, aren’t really playing with a full deck.

Paleo Diet: Can We Really Eat Like Our Ancestors Did? – Like this fellow. He doesn’t get it. He really doesn’t get it. He’s convinced that anyone advocating a paleo diet needs to be eating mammoth steaks. That’s a good indicator for you. Anyone writing about the paleo diet who brings up the deplorable lack of mammoth steak in the world is a jackass, pretty much guaranteed. The really funny thing is that almost all of the detractors make all the same points, that even a very basic perusal of Robb’s or Mark’s sites would clarify for them. They insist upon citing Loren Cordain’s original book from 10 years ago, which I think most of us would agree isn’t exactly the cutting edge of paleo thinking. They insist upon pretending that paleo diet adherents are all walking around eating raw steak, even though that is a very, very small minority of paleo eaters. They always bring up the short average lifespan of paleolithic humans. It would be one thing if they found ways to be creatively ignorant, but they’re remarkably consistent and remarkably consistent in thinking that they are incredibly bright and original with their “refutations” of the paleo perspective. Anyway, it’s just one more article I found that I thought I’d share in case you hadn’t gotten your dose of rage today.

The Paleo Diet is Uncivilized and Unhealthy and Untrue – This is another one, and one that I got about three paragraphs into before I stopped reading in disgust. I can handle ignorance, because I can’t fault someone for not knowing about a given topic. But willful ignorance? Someone seemingly taking pride in their astonishing lack of anything approaching even the most rudimentary understanding of a topic? That bugs me. Especially when it comes from a major media source and an MD who is probably respected in some circles. So hopefully he gets ripped to shreds in the comments, but I honestly don’t have the patience to read them.

Exclusive Leaked Documents: American Dietetic Association is Intentionally Using State Legislatures to Block Alternative Nutrition Providers and Restrict Free Speech – That’s a long title, but it’s a good read. You’ve probably heard about the blogger who got warned to stop giving advice to folks over the phone/internet because he wasn’t a registered dietician, right? Well it sounds like that wasn’t a fluke. It’s exactly what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to see done across the nation. Seriously, this is almost too bizarre to believe, but in a way I’m not surprised.

Okay, that’ll do it for now. Thanks for reading!

Thanks, Jimmy!

Wow, I didn’t expect to see so many new visitors! I’ve been really busy with work and the new baby, so I haven’t been updating as much as I’d like, but Jimmy Moore of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb very kindly shared my blog in his most recent list of paleo and low carb blogs for July. I guess I’d better get my butt in gear and post something for you all, eh?

Okay, here goes: I’ve got some links, some recipes, and some new updates on my own journey.

First off, here’s my update on my Convict Conditioning. I’m liking it a lot. I’m still taking things very slowly, and I’ve only done two sessions of each workout so far, but I’m liking that the exercises are easy enough for me to focus more on quality than on quantity. Let me ‘splain. When I’ve attempted a “100 Pushup Challenge” in the past, the goal is to complete pushups. Some of those pushups are ugly. Yes, I’m getting stronger, but because my pushups have traditionally been weak, I’m just struggling to complete the general “down-up” movement, regardless of whether I’m pushing with the right muscles or if my form is correct. And since I could never do enough clean reps to notice a problem and correct it, problems with form just never got corrected. So with the Step 1 pushups (as well as pullups, knee tucks, and shoulderstand squats), because I’m not struggling just to complete them, and because I can do a number of clean reps, I can try different hand positions, try different planes of movement for my elbows, etc. all while feeling just a little resistance so I can tell what I’m working. It’s very cool, and super helpful for what I’m trying to accomplish.

I’ve also been tracking my numbers on my workout days (Mondays and Fridays), which is cool. You know how I like to quantify myself, and twice a week seems like a pretty reasonable timeframe in which to do it. So here’s where I am these days:

Weight: Fluctuating in the 210-212 range. Certainly not as low as I have been in the past, but I’m not too concerned with scale weight. This is down from 245-250 about 9 months ago.

Body Fat %: According to my Omron, I’m between 14 and 15% pretty consistently. Honestly, anything under 15% still feels pretty amazing to me, so I have no complaints there. This was over 25% 9 months ago, though I didn’t have a great way to measure back then. I was using a suprailiac pinch, but was doing it wrong, and was consistently underestimating my actual fat mass.

Waist: Consistently at 35.5″ now, and was over 40″ when I started.

Suprailiac Pinch: In the 13-14mm range. This is still pretty great. It was well over 20, and I think probably closer to 25 when I first started.

So there you go. Full update on where everything is, 9 months down the road. I’m really not eating all that great, either. I’m eating more starch than I can really justify based on my activity level, eating more sweets than I should be (still, it’s always my problem), and not being as active as I know I ought to be. Even with all that, though, just paying attention to ancestral principles is enough to keep me leaner and healthier than I’ve ever been before. That’s huge. And right now, with a new baby? Most guys I know put on 20-some pounds through their wife’s pregnancy, and then just keep adding to it through the newborn period. I feel pretty great about maintaining as well as I have!

Okay, enough about me, let’s talk about food.

I know I’ve been talking about making stock for a while now, and I finally decided to thaw and cook some chickens that we’ve had in the freezer for ages. Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking ahead. I cooked them in the slow cooker, which broke down all the connective tissue holding them together, so my plan to cook them up, then fabricate them and save the husks was shot. We ended up eating them more as a stew, because they completely came apart. We pulled the bones out, but I forgot to ask my wife to save them (some friends said that they would still be good, even after all they’d been through) so she tossed them when she did the dishes. D’oh! Obviously not her fault, and it would’ve been mitigated entirely if I’d thought ahead and cooked the chickens in the oven or something, so they’d hang together well enough to cut into individual servings. We still have one more chicken in the freezer (bought and frozen when Vitamin Cottage had a good sale) and I’m going to roast it in the oven and then make stock from the bones. For reals, and I’m not going to screw it up. On a positive note, the stew we made was excellent, and was full of quality gelatin and all the rest. So that’s good.

We also visited our new favorite local farm this weekend! We went out and spent a few hours tromping all over with the farmer, Erika, while she fed and milked and watered all the animals. They have goats, laying hens, turkeys, broiler hens, pigs, horses, alpacas, and one beautiful and extremely pregnant cow named Dora. it was an awesome experience, and so great to see the place where food really comes from, and to see how much love there is between farmer and farm animal. We got a couple dozen eggs from their pastured hens (they have plenty of room to go out and scratch around in the sun, and are supplemented with organic feed) and are signing up for one of their heritage Berkshire pigs. We’re going to split it with another family, like we’ve done with cows in the past. I’m also thinking we might have to get in on one of the milk shares from Dora once she gives birth. She’s an A2/A2 jersey cow, and she’s incredibly friendly and well cared-for. She wanders around the whole farm, eating grass and other plants, and just generally hanging out. She’s such a sweetheart, too. She followed us all around and licked our hands and everything. Also, she likes bananas, which I think is adorable. So we’re super excited about all of that. Meeting someone who really loves the animals and is trying to raise them right is just so important.

Okay, on to our links! Let’s see what I’ve scrounged up since last time.

What’s in the beef? – A list of restaurants and food manufacturers and how they utilize antibiotics in their animal products.

Chocolate Frosting Shots – My wife actually found this recipe, and it sounds really good! I’m thinking I might could make these sometime this week. I also like the idea of trying other flavors. maybe some strawberries cooked down and strained to make a syrup? Because really when it comes down to it, there’s nothing wrong with coconut milk, fruit, and a little raw local honey, am I right?

Fat and Glycemic Index: The Myth of Complex Carbs – J. Stanton makes some great points in this piece. If you want to eat carbs, eat them with some good quality fat to slow down your digestion and avoid dumping a load of sugar into your bloodstream. That’s my approach, because hash browns cooked in the fat drained from my Niman Ranch bacon is just a great way to start a Sunday morning.

Cod Liver Oil Basics – My wife and I recently started taking CLO capsules, because we just haven’t been able to get organ meats into our diet. We chose Green Pastures CLO, based on Chris Kresser‘s recommendation, and we’re really happy with it. They have a version that includes butter oil as well, but I have a moral problem with eating my butter in pill form. I’m not going to miss out on an opportunity to eat me some butter. The CLO without the butter is also much less expensive, which is nice, since I’m already going to spend money on butter. And then eat it. Did I mention that I want to eat some butter, because I feel like it’s been hours since I last had butter, and that’s not even cool.

It Starts With Food review – I’m hearing so many great things about this book, it really needs to find a home on my shelf. I keep trying to talk myself into a Whole30, and I think I’m getting closer. After seeing so many great reviews of this book (including one from Mat “The Kraken” LaLonde), I really think I need to buy it, read it, and follow it. When I do, you’ll all hear all about it, for sure.

Okay, that should do it for now. Thanks for reading!