Paleo-ish Zuppa Toscana (Updated!)

*UPDATE* – Almost 5 years have gone by since I first posted this, and I’ve changed how we cook this soup a bit. It’s one of our very favorites, and a huge hit with guests and such, so I figured it would be worth posting an updated version both for everyone else, as well as for me to reference when I want to share this. *END UPDATE INTRO*

Some background. My wife loves Olive Garden. My wife lurves Olive garden, more like. If someone says the words “Olive” and “Garden” in the same 3 hour period, she simply has to eat there or she’ll catch fire from wanting it so hard. Seriously. You don’t get it yet, but you’re getting closer. And the only thing she eats there is their Zuppa Toscana. And maybe a breadstick…dipped in the soup. She’s obsessed. So anyway, we’ve been wanting to figure out a way to make it at home for a long time (mostly because their gluten free options for me are none, including the soup) so she can enjoy it without me having to pay $16 for a subpar steak. We went to my cousin’s house for board games and his wife made this soup, and it was intensely tasty so I figured we could make it at home as well. She kindly gave me the recipe, which I then proceeded to ignore in a lot of ways. But we’ll get to that later.

So here’s the soup. It’s not all the way technically paleo, unfortunately, because there are non-sweet potatoes in it. But whatever. It’s still delicious and that starch is far outweighed by delicious sausage and bacon. I guess what makes it still sort of paleo is the fact that all the ingredients are organic, humanely raised, etc. So here’s the recipe, as taken from allrecipes.com and modified by me (edited to our current method as of 2017):

Source Recipe: Super Delicious Zuppa Toscana

Our family recipe, which we now call “Work Soup” presented as a double batch because we never make a single batch anymore

  • 1 pound Beeler’s Hot Italian Sausage Links (slit down the side with casings removed)
  • 1 package of Kirkland Signature Thick Cut bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces (1.5 lbs)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 qts of Kirkland Signature Organic Chicken Stock
  • 8-10 small-medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half & half if you don’t have cream
  • 1 bunch of fresh kale with stems removed and torn into bite-sized piece, or a couple handfuls of frozen kale, if you don’t have fresh

You will need to cook this in a large pot, at least 8 qts. We use an 8qt stock pot, and it is full to the brim when we’re done.
(Okay, that’s the end of the update. Everything after this will be the same from a method perspective, but I’ll be talking about different ingredients and amounts because I was making a single batch with a slightly different recipe. use the ingredients and amounts above while following the method below and you’ll come out just fine.)

So…I guess I kinda barely followed this recipe. Whatever. I do what I want.

Okay, so you take the sausage (Beeler’s mild italian links for us) and put it into a Dutch oven (we have a very nice enameled one we got from some friends as a gift) and put that on the stove over medium-high and cook the sausage until it gets crumbly and brown. If you want it spicier, you would also put the crushed red pepper in there with the sausage. We don’t like spicy, so we got mild sausage and didn’t do pepper. So anyway, cook it until it looks like food. I don’t like putting times on these things because I always get burned by thinking “The recipe said this should take 10 minutes and it’s taken 20 but it doesn’t look right. Oh well, guess I should follow the recipe,” and then I pull the thing off the thing and everything is ruined. Don’t do that. Just cook it until it’s done. If your sausage is anything like my sausage (heh) you’ll end up with some smaller crumbly bits and some larger chunks. That’s all well and good. Just get it cooked through. Now drain it (I didn’t drain mine, but some people like to do things the right way) and pour it into a bowl to be used later.

Now, reduce the stove to medium and put in your bacon bits (Niman Ranch or something similar). Cook until they’re brown and crispy. Again, don’t worry about how long it takes, just cook them until they’re right. You’ll be much happier for it. Once your bacon is crispy, toss in your diced onion and minced garlic (Like I know what those words mean, right? Just cut them up into sizes you’d be happy to have in your soup.) and cook until the onions get clear and soft.

Pour in your stock. I got those cartons of organic chicken stock from Costco and used two of them, so I guess that’s like…2 quarts? Sounds about right. Now bring it to a boil over high heat. When you get to a boil, you can back it off to medium high (you could leave it on high, but I always back my stuff off so they don’t boil over) and put in your potatoes, cut into chunks. I sliced mine into like 1/16″ slices because that’s what my box grater thingy has available. It was too thin. Something in the neighborhood of 1/4″ thick is more what you want, and then cut them into quarters or something so you have nice, bite-sized chunks of potato. That’s definitely what I’ll be doing next time. Keep in mind, I used 6 very tiny (Not much bigger than an egg) potatoes for this recipe, and the potato ratio turned out pretty well. If you’re using giant russets, you probably only need like 2-3 at the very most. There’s plenty of sausage and bacon in this soup to keep it rib-sticking without going nuts on potatoes. Now boil those potatoes until they’re cooked through. Just keep stirring every so often and checking them. As long as you keep it at a boil and you have reasonable chunks, it shouldn’t take too long to cook them through.

Now, reduce the heat back to medium, then you add in the cup of heavy cream (I used Organic Valley heavy cream from pastured cows because it’s amazing) and add back in your sausage. Let that work for a while so you can wash and break up your kale. You just pull the leaves off the stems and then tear them into smallish pieces. It shouldn’t take long. I added a little more kale than whatever I think 1/4 bunch is supposed to be (though I take issue with ‘bunch’ as a unit of measure. Bunches be different sizes, homie.) and my soup turned out just fine. It’s also a great way to eat kale, so there’s that. Okay, now your soup is heated through. Add your pieces of kale. I let it sit and soften for a couple minutes, but honestly the longer the soup sat on my stove in the dutch oven, the better it tasted, so you could probably add the kale, take the pot off the heat, and let it sit for about 10 minutes or so, and it would be amazing. That’s what I’ll do next time.

Also, you can top with some shredded parmesan, if you have any available. It’s awesome.

Okay, that’s it. I didn’t take pictures because I never take pictures my first time through a process, lest it turn out to be incredibly embarrassing for me. We both LOVED this soup, though. I was really worried that there would be too much of it for us to finish, but I ate three big bowls last night and brought another bowl to work for lunch today. It will definitely be going into the rotation, and the next time through there will be pictures.

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Whole 30 – Complete!

Hey guys! Just a quick check-in here. Today is the first day after my Whole 30. I’ve lost about 6 pounds, an inch or more off my waist, at least 1.5% body fat, and I’ve really changed a lot about how I see food. I’m surprised, honestly. I’ve always had issues with sugar, but now I don’t even really crave it. I had a sweetened yogurt this morning as part of my dairy reintroduction protocol, and my mouth started feeling kinda sticky and mucus-y almost immediately. Later on, I could taste the familiar “sugar graveyard” taste in my mouth. You know the one? Your mouth tastes kinda gross, kinda dry, and the best solution for it seems to be popping something sweet back in the ol’ bacon-hole to start the cycle all over again? Yeah, only now I recognized the taste for what it was, and didn’t get stuck in the trap.

So that’s cool. I really haven’t been craving sweets at all since I got a couple weeks into the Whole 30. My tastes have changed dramatically. I used to think that fruit wasn’t very sweet, but now it’s plenty sweet and in such a way that I don’t get the nasty taste later on. Plus I’m also getting nutrients, moisture and fiber at the same time. Big win for fruit. I’ve also noticed that my palate is more open to new flavors. I’m handling spicy food better than I used to, and even enjoying a little heat. I think I’d jacked my palate so far to the sweet end of the spectrum before that anything that wasn’t sweet was amplified. Now I’m much more balanced and can appreciate a wider range of flavors. That’s good stuff.

What else? Oh yeah. I’m flexible now. No idea when or how that happened but I can lean over and touch the floor with my knees locked. I haven’t been able to do that…ever. I have always struggled with flexibility and now it seems like I’ve got it to spare, at least compared to how I was before. Awesome!

I’ve got a picture from this morning, but haven’t loaded it up yet. I’ll do my usual comparison bits for you all. I’m jazzed, though! Definitely some significant results, and I realized that I can eat real, clean paleo for a good long while and be plenty happy. I don’t think I’ll be maintaining Whole 30-level strictness all the time, but I do think I’ll be living much, much closer to it than I was before. maybe a little sugar every now and again, probably some cheese on the regular, but I’m not going to be “that guy who says he eats paleo but every time you see him he’s eating nachos” anymore. Grains, with very few exceptions, are out for good. Cauliflower rice is plenty good enough to satisfy any rice-requiring dishes. I’m not saying I’ll never touch another corn chip, but I’m not going to buy the Costco-sized bag of them anymore, no matter how delicious they are and how great a deal it is. I don’t need to plow through three pounds of chips in a week.

Okay, so that’s it! Hopefully everyone enjoyed the journey as much as I did. I’m not where I want to be, body composition-wise, but I’ll just keep working at it until I get there. I know what I need to do, and I know that I can do it, and that’s a great thing. Thanks for reading!

Whole 30 – Week 3

One more week, one more check-in from me. Here goes:

 

I’m really starting to see some difference now. Significantly less on the sides, and a little definition around the upper chest. Score!

I think this perspective shows even more. I’m seeing increased definition in my shoulder, a flatter stomach, even a leaner neck and chin area. Pretty cool!

A couple other cool things. I made this dressing: Paleo Caesar it’s really tasty, and tastes just like creamy caesar dressing from a bottle. I used the It Starts With Food recipe for my latest batch of olive oil mayo and it turned out perfectly. Best taste and best texture of any recipe I’ve tried. here it is, if you want to give it a try:

  • One egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups light-tasting olive oil
Put the egg and the lemon juice into the blender or food processor (or bowl, if you don’t have those) and let rest for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Add dry mustard and salt and 1/4 of oil and start mixing. Once the mixture is smooth, you slowly (very slowly) add the remaining oil until it’s all gone. Voila! Mayo.
What else? Oh, I also made the ISWF BBQ sauce, and that’s been really good, too (I’ll post a recipe for that one soon). And we made cauliflower rice to go with a curry that some friends brought over. It turned out so well! Here’s the recipe for that, from Nom Nom Paleo: Another (Simpler) Version of Cauliflower Rice
So yeah, lots of cooking. It’s been really fun! We’ve also gotten into a couple of super easy recipes lately. Oven-roasted chicken parts is probably my favorite. Some clarified butter, some salt, some seasonings, cover with foil, into the oven for 35 minutes at 400ยบ, then take the foil off and broil to get a little brown on them. It’s so easy you don’t even know. It’s tasty, too, and organic chicken legs from Costco are crazy cheap.

Okay, here’s a pile of links for you. I have many more, but this will help.

Vegans Secretly Achin’ for Some Bacon – I’m pretty sure this is why my wife married me. Bacon and underpants are a powerful combination.

Off the Wagon or Simple Indulgence? – “There is no cheating or indulging until you are well.” I like this idea. I also like his explanation for why an “indulgence” makes more sense, linguistically, than a “cheat”. I also think it makes sense to limit your indulgences to things that don’t hurt you too hard. If I have a bad reaction to gluten, I wouldn’t have a slice of cake as my indulgence. Your indulgences should be things you can enjoy a little of while staying healthy. If your indulgence makes you unhealthy, it’s too much or the wrong thing. Maybe it’s worth it to you to feel like a sack of smashed butts for a few days because you love cake that much? More power to you, but that’s not my jam. I can find plenty of amazingly delicious things I can eat that don’t make me sick. I don’t want to eat them for every meal, because that would make me unhealthy, but a little bit sometimes is perfect.

iPhone Appcessory Tests if Food is Really Organic – This is just cool. Science!

Chickens Dying From Fowl Light Bulbs – This is for my friends with hens. You might already know this, but it’s not something I would have considered if I had birds, so I figured I’d share.

How Should Science Be Done? – I’ve heard this argument as well, and I was swayed by it. Shouldn’t you be trying to disprove your hypothesis? If it’s your hypothesis ad you’re trying to prove it, doesn’t that mentality lead people to do bad science? I think it’s a reasonable question, but I can also understand Dr. Guyenet’s points. I don’t think that people are suggesting that we never stop trying to prove hypotheses wrong, though, which he seems to imply. At a certain point, those experiments are no longer useful, and I think everyone would agree. The difference is whether, when designing and running an experiment, you are working harder to prove yourself wrong or right? I can still see some benefit to going in with the mentality of trying to prove your hypothesis wrong, mostly from a psychological standpoint. Anyway, now I’m rambling.

Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 – Dr. Guyenet’s perspective on the conference. I’ll be posting more of these as they become available, and links to the talks themselves as well, when they pop up. Should be awesome! I like Dr. Guyenet’s perspective because he’s a little bit on his own in the ancestral health area, though people are slowly moving more towards his ideas, it seems. But he’s always fun, and sometimes he makes the hardcore low-carbers look downright silly. Or mean. And both are super funny to me.

Epic (Sustainable Farm-to-Table) Mealtime – This looks like a heck of a meal.

Why Animal Fats Are Good For You – A talk by Chris Masterjohn that he gave on the Low-Carb Cruise. That sounds like a great way to spend a week, btw. Steak and lobster and lots of garlic butter? Sign me up. Anyway, I like his approach. I also hear he absolutely knocked his AHS talk out of the park from a couple of sources I trust. Can’t wait to see it!

Okay, that’s it from me for today. Thanks for reading!

Whole 30 – Week 2

Jeez, I’ve been meaning to post more but life keeps interfering. Well I’ll at least get these once-a-week updates out, if nothing else.
Let’s get to it:

Honestly, I don’t feel like the pictures are doing me justice. I can feel abs under a thin layer of skin and fat all around my belly button. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that before. I know that I’ve lost significant fat, but maybe it just isn’t showing yet?

This one shows a little better, I think. Definitely less plump up front. I didn’t have a huge amount to lose, honestly, so I shouldn’t be surprised that the result isn’t super dramatic. What I would love to see is a comparison of myself before starting paleo and now. Unfortunately I didn’t take any proper “before” photos, but I’m so much skinnier! In a good way, though.

Okay, what else? Oh yeah, we’ve been making some recipes, too. Here’s one that worked well for us: The Tastiest Whole Roasted Chicken. Period.

We didn’t actually do it whole, though. I broke it down as best I could with my stupid-dull knives and roasted it in sections in a pan with some carrots, celery and onions. All I used to season was salt and a little black pepper and it came out really good! We also used the carcasses of the chickens to make some stock, which I’m currently working on filtering. I’m struggling with it, as I struggled with straining my clarified butter, but I’ve got high hopes that I’ll figure it out eventually.

Okay, I think that’s it. Sorry I haven’t been posting links for you guys. I just haven’t had the time to do them justice, so I’ll have to hit a few giant posts soon and try to get caught up. Thanks for reading!

Whole 30 – Week 1

Hey guys! Just wanted to check in with some news on the Whole 30. We’ve got over a dozen people taking part now, which is pretty awesome. I’ve finished reading the book, and absolutely loved it. We’ve also been getting as many group members together as possible a couple times a week to eat together, talk about progress, commiserate over foods we miss, etc. Overall, everyone seems to be having a good time, though the people who are transitioning to a Whole 30 lifestyle from a SAD are struggling more than those of us who were already paleo/gluten-free or whatever. We’re all still in the early, induction-type phases, though. I think as we get into weeks three and four, we’ll start seeing people universally feeling better.

In any case, I did want to share my pics with you. I’m doing one per week. Here’s the front shot from the day we started:

Side shot from start day:

Front shot from the end of week one. I can really feel myself leaning out. I’m not weighing myself (Boy do I want to, though), but I can absolutely tell by looking and feeling on my abdomen that I’ve slimmed down a fair amount. Just a week! Maybe you can’t really see it in these pictures, but I feel like I can a little.

Week one side shot:

Okay, here’s the start pic and the week one pic side by side. I feel like I can see some slimming on the sides for sure, though it’s definitely subtle.

Side by side shots of the side:

Not sure how much difference I’m seeing there. Most of the change I’m noticing is in the feeling when I touch my stomach. I know I’ve mentioned before that there’s a “loosening” phase when I lose fat, so it may not be getting smaller immediately, but the fat is much less dense, which has been the thing I’ve noticed first before I’ve noticed it going away completely. So that’s cool! I’m only a week into this gig, and there’s plenty of time left for some really serious changes, physically speaking.

Speaking of non-physical changes (hang on, I will be soon) there are a few things I’ve noticed that I’m really hoping the Whole 30 will help me change. For one, I am in the habit of eating something sweet after a meal. Every meal, it seems. Does breakfast usually include dessert? For me it was, for a while. So I’m working on that. Being done with a meal when I’m full, not when I was already full and then ate something sugary anyway. It doesn’t matter if it’s 85% cocoa, organic, fair-trade dark chocolate. The problem isn’t the sweet I’m eating, the problem is the habit that makes me reach for something sweet even when I’m not hungry anymore. The problem is also that treats should be just that, to my mind. There’s nothing special about Tuesday’s lunch. It doesn’t need to be finished with a dessert. Especially if I’m not even going to pay attention to thing while I’m eating it (which is very much how it tends to go). So what I’m working on now is to go without anything sweet after my lunches, maybe including some berries with breakfast, and I will generally have some fruit when I get home from work and with dinner. We’re going through a lot of fruit, which probably isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Both my wife and I have noticed that fruit tastes sweeter when it’s the sweetest thing you eat than it does when you’re constantly dulling your tastebuds with hyper-tasting foods. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to the point where something tastes “too sweet” (you’re talking to the man who invented the jamsicle, here) but I’d at least like to be to the point where a sweet taste is a treat instead of the standard, especially if it’s any kind of added sweetener instead of fruit.

So there we go. That’s what’s up now. I’m enjoying good, solid, hearty breakfasts. Eggs with mustard and baconnaise with some paprika mixed in make for a tasty, non-traditional breakfast food. We’re also really loving the sugar-free bacon we got from US Wellness Meats (I won a $100 gift certificate! Did I tell you guys that? It’s awesome, and I bought so much meat.) and we found some clean breakfast sausages as well. Finding things that are gluten free is a cakewalk anymore, but finding packaged foods that are sugar free is far tougher than you’d think. Most any of the regular brands of hot dogs you see will have sugar in them. Lunch meats will often have sugar in them. Most every sauce, dressing, or anything else will. It’s kinda crazy when you think about it. My lunches thus far are mostly leftovers from dinner or my salads. Unfortunately the Applegate Farms pepperoni that I like so much contains sugar, so that’s a no-go. I found some pre-cooked chicken breast strips at Costco that are far from the highest quality meat, but they are definitely super quick and easy to throw together in the morning. For dinners, we’ve had burgers, steaks, chicken, ribs,smoked pork, lots of broccoli, sweet potatoes, a chuck roast cooked in a stew with carrots, celery and onions that was very good, and probably loads more I’m forgetting. We’re not hurting by any means, and we’re actually saving money, surprisingly enough. Gluten free packaged food is stupid expensive. It’s so much cheaper to eat real, unpackaged food that is gluten free because it’s only got the one ingredient. We’re also cruising through our meat stores pretty quickly, which is awesome! Gotta clear out the freezer and make room for the next cow.

Okay, I’m done for reals now. Thanks for reading!

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!

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!