Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bacon Sautee

Non-paleo husband approved!
Bacon has been getting a bit of a bad rap lately in the paleo community.  Sure, it's not a health food, but it's damn delicious!  It adds incredible flavour to all types of cooking, it comes from one of the tastiest beasts that adorns us with pork chops, lard and rump roasts, and it has an incredible fat to flesh ratio that satisfies our salty fatty cravings.

The butcher I get my bacon from uses minimal nitrates in preparation, but I've also found another high end grocery close by that sells nitrate free.  It really all depends on how thrifty I'm feeling at the time of purchase.  It's also very difficult to find bacon that is sourced from pasture raised pigs, not factory farm raised.  Eating completely orthodox paleo can be very expensive and sometimes you have to pinch some pennies to save a little cash.

Tonight's dinner featured a lovely array of organic vegetables (red pepper, asparagus, crimini mushrooms, snow peas, garlic and lemon juice) and our lovely friend bacon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beets, Bacon and Beef

Tonight was leftover beet, bacon and spinach salad, adapted from the recipe Beets, Greens, 'n' Bacon from Everyday Paleo's new book.  The original recipe called for beet greens, but the beets I purchased were free of their tops, so I improvised with fresh spinach.  The salad was served with leftover ribeye steak and I added a few more pieces of bacon for good measure.

Robert doesn't like beets at all, but he was a good sport and tried it anyway.  He still doesn't care for them :)

Aaaaah bacon, what can't you do for a meal?

Mmmmm bacon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


This is the most incredible post I've read in awhile.  Hawaiian libertarian gives us a deep insight into raising a paleo baby from inception.  Beautifully detailed, I hope he continues to write about the amazing development of his child.

Anyone care for some Wood Pulp?  Just another reason to eat real.

Two Sunday's ago I spent 5 lovely hours simmering stock only to strain it right down the sink.  I blamed brain fog left over from my vacation indulgences.  A few days later I came across this informative pdf from the Western Price Foundation on the lovely merits of homemade stock, recipes included.

Craving ice cream?  Growing Up Paleo has an awesome looking recipe for Coconut Milk Chocolate Ice Cream!  If I owned an ice cream maker, I'd be in heaven.

I picked up the new book Everyday Paleo, by Sarah Fragoso last week and have read it cover to cover (I could read recipes all day).  I can't wait to try all the good eats and I can vouch for at least one; the Marvellous Meatballs are amazing!

Robb Wolf injects a humorous foreward and Sarah's acknowledgments actually made me a little misty eyed.  She beautifully describes her personal accounts with health issues, eating a standard american diet and how the paleo lifestyle has made her and her family the energetic powerhouses they are today.  I love that she shares her raw experiences; it lets us all know that what she is sharing is attainable.
Thanks to her Fitness section, I have started getting back into exercise.  I know that I'm probably stronger than a beginner but it's been awhile since I regularly exercised.  I'm starting with day one to ease my body into basic movements.  Her exercises are well described for anyone new to fitness.
The book is also equipped with detailed shopping lists for your fridge and pantry, helpful for those ready to clear out grain and sugar loaded fillers and stock with fresh meat, produce and spices!

Overall, this is a perfect introduction to the Paleo lifestyle and I will be recommending this book to friends and family.

On a side note, I now want more tattoos :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paleo Impossible?

Let me start off by saying that my vacation in Japan was an amazing experience.  My husband and I had an incredible time traveling around Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara, Hiroshima, Iwakuni, Okayama & Kurashiki, to name a few.  We stayed with my friend Yumiko and her mom who played wonderful host to us during our just shy of three week stay.  So much powerful history and beautiful sites and landscapes.  I will have memories that will last a lifetime and it was a truly eye opening experience.  If you 'd like to see photos from our trip, you can visit my Flickr account.

What I had difficulty with during my time in Japan was maintaining a paleo lifestyle.  I was determined that I would stick to eating my protein and vegetables and figured I could get a good bit of fat from eating fish and other forms of protein.  I packed a few snacks for the 19 hour travel time:

Beef Jerky
Macadamia Nuts
Dried Blueberries
Dried Coconut
Emergency Larabar

The flight was fine and I ended up fasting most of the trip while attempting to get some shut eye which is close to impossible for me in a seated position.

We reached Osaka in the future and we made our way to Yumiko's where her mom prepared an incredible and delicately prepared feast.  Yumiko had prepared her mom for my "odd way of eating", so it was known that I did not eat grains or sugar.  But something I wasn't aware of about Japanese cuisine is they love to sweeten everything with sugar, and I mean everything.  Most meat dishes were prepared with a sweet sauce, so when you thought you were getting something savory, it was actually pretty sweet.  They consume a lot of wheat, soy and of course rice.  This is the staple of every household and I learned very quickly that it would be difficult for me to maintain a paleo style of eating for the next three weeks.

Paleo breakfast courtesy of Yumiko's mom :
My first couple of days I tried to eat paleo, ordering foods in restaurants with Yumiko's help.  Her mom prepared me a paleo breakfast every morning; one egg either soft boiled or fried, bacon or sausage, salad and soup (soup is traditionally served with every breakfast and it is something that I could get used to . . sooo goood!).  While out and about touring, I ate pork skewers with salt, sweet potato, smoked mackerel, occasional salads and the like.  The food was tasty and I thought I could do this the whole trip.  But then I noticed that my energy levels depleted quickly, I had headaches, dizziness and nausea and moments of feeling faint.  We were doing a minimum of 9 hours per day of walking, visiting temples, shrines and partaking in hanami (cherry blossom viewing).  I wasn't getting enough food energy to supply me for the intense physical exertion and I had to make a choice.  Japanese food in general is very low fat and most of their fat sources for cooking are vegetable or soy oils.  Fish is a great source, but this can get expensive quickly and we were on a bit of a budget.  I also can't eat fish too often as it turns me off if I eat it too many days in a row.

I started eating rice to bulk up my meals, and purchased rice balls from the 7-11 (their 7-11's are amazing) to take with me for emergency hunger pangs on our long hikes.  This helped with my energy but almost immediately I felt bloated and cramped with some minor headaches.  I powered through it because this was a once in a lifetime experience for me and nothing was going to ruin it.  There are also many occasions where politeness trumps.  No one wants to insult their host, so sometimes we sacrifice to show our appreciation.

It would have been fine if all I ate was rice, but something happened after a week.  I started craving carbs regularly.  I haven't had a carb craving in over a year, and my experiences reminded me all over again how addicting grains and sugar could be.  I started a "to hell with it" and "I'm on vacation, I'll get back on track when I get home" attitude and ate pretty much to my hearts content.  Donuts, bread, rice, tempura, udon, sushi, ice cream, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki and other local fair.  My taste buds enjoyed themselves immensely and I had some pretty good eats (best sushi EVER).  The rest of the vacation I experienced days of constipation, intestinal cramping and bloating, headaches, lethargy and irritablilty, all the reasons I started paleo in the first place.

Returning home from such an incredible trip, I set out to get back on track immediately, but there was one problem.  In the three weeks, I had become completely addicted to carbs again.  I craved everything.  My first week back I had terrible jet lag which allowed a head cold to take hold of me (I blame little sleep and poor immunity from poor eating habits).  My husband and I were too tired to cook or go grocery shopping to restock the fridge, so we ate take out for a week.  I even sunk as low as McDonald's . . . twice.  I craved buttered toast constantly and ate pasta.  I don't even really like pasta, but my resurrected addiction had consumed any reasoning and will to cease.  I hadn't put on any weight during vacation due to my 10 fold increase in physical activity.  But being home and laying on the couch eating junk food, I had put on 4 lbs in 1 week.  I felt like a zombie and I hit rock bottom on Sunday.  That's when I decided enough was enough.

Monday was my first day of paleo again and it felt good.  I've succeeded with today as well and I feel I can get back on track quickly.  I still fight the cravings but I don't plan to give in to them as easily as last week.

We all fall off the horse once in a while and in a way, my experiencing was a bit of an awakening.  I'd forgotten what a drug like effect grains and sugar have on us and how it's so simple to become "comfortable" with the many symptoms that ensue with consumption.  It's also very easy, as I experienced in a short period of time, to be consumed with the craving again.  So many people I know complain of bloating, cramping, headaches and such and assume that these are normal functions of the body.  There's always a quick fix at the drug store.  I'm happy to be back on my permanent fix of paleo and can only hope to never experience any of these symptoms again.  It's good to be back, in more ways than one.

I don't want to give the impression that paleo is impossible in Japan.  If I were living there, I would have complete control over what I purchased and cooked.  Actually, the selection of protein at the grocery store was astounding and I've never seen so many different types of radish.  The issue is relying on food from restaurants and train stations and of course there are language barriers with menus and wait staff.  It's difficult to communicate and most people don't understand your reasons for being particular.

Have you had any difficulties with travelling while maintaining a paleo lifestyle?