Monday, June 28, 2010

New Nutrition Guidelines from the USDA, still amiss...

New Nutrition Guidelines, free for download here.

OK, so the USDA after 15 years or so, has finally decided to revamp their nutritional guidelines for the US citizens. I've not read every page, nor in great detail, but a cursory reading provides me with the impression that NOT MUCH has changed. Let me summarize: The scientists behind this have discovered that America is in an "Obesity Epidemic". They've also decided that reduction in the intake of dietary fats and cholesterol are a warranted recommendation, you know, because Americans are fat and being fat makes you have a heart attack. I am uncertain, how after 100 years of misinformation being perpetuated in a dogmatic, authoritarian manner cannot seem to be overthrown. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I did note that one of the messages in the goals, or hopeful outcomes it to serve a larger nutritional community. Yeah, a nutritional food based community, not just the fat Americans at risk of, well death by one of several nutrition-related diseased. Rather on this list, included with the fat Americans, and every other American is small and large business owners that are parenthetically defined as farmers. I love my farmers, but feedlot, mass production farming is a big, a HUGE business and it sounds to me like they have a few people in their pockets or on their pay rolls. But, I don't know dick about that society so I will not speculate. Rather I will summarize the recommendations:

1. Reduce the incidence of obesity and prevalence of overweight Americans by encouraging a reduction in caloric intake and increase in exercise, or activity output. Uh, this has failed for the last 20 years. (Insert Buzzer for wrong answer here)

2. Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. In addition, increase the intake of seafood and far-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and eggs. (Insert Wrong Answer Buzzer Again)

Damn, they are 0 - 2. That's a bad start. We know from loads of scientific evidence - conducted cross-culturally as well as in hunter-gatherer tribes that the calorie in, calorie out model is broken, that is just doesn't work. It fails in the face of a nutritionally dense, satiation providing diet that pays little if any attention to caloric matters. Furthermore, I do like that they are emphasizing the intake of fruits and vegetables, however, here again nothing has changed. Remember the old - 5-a-day campaign? This is simply an extension of that idea. And, they are continuing to recommend grain and dairy product (scratching head about why in utter disbelief that simply supporting big business is more important than our country's health), both of which are known to increase insulin responses and create for lack of better ideas: FAT PEOPLE. Listen, whole grain cereal with skim-milk is going to make you have a huge insulin response and store fat. It's really not that complicated!

3. Significantly reduce intake of refined sugars. (Yeah, they got one right)

4. Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for America, for which you are referred to a website that is wholly useless.

It's unfortunate, that this has been released, and seems to be a direct attack on the growth of the healthy eating, Paleo, or ancestral eating movement. Just as "we" (collectively used to indicate folks who eat Paleo for health, performance, etc and perpetuate the idea) are making headway, gaining momentum, this "new" report (new? because it basically has not changed at all from the past guidelines: look at the pyramid: eat loads of grains and only a touch of meat and almost no fats) is released and I am sure, I'm quite certain in fact with our fast-food, health conscious, obesity-worried, Biggest Loser-watching captivated audience this "news" will be on every talk show, news station, and bill board from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It's quite sad, that in the face of loads of research this is put forth. As I said, I've not read every document in detail - I plan to when I get some free time - but, I did search the executive summary and a few other documents associated with this release/update for the term Omega. I was thinking, certainly with the amazing amount of data relating Omega fatty acid balance, or imbalance, to immflamation and other diseases it would be featured prominently int he report. I can't seem to find that (but, I do need to read everything). My feeling is that by emphasizing the Omega fatty acid story, they'd be forced to revise much of their document: that is eat more fats and meat products. Apparently, this is something that the Gov't is still struggling with... Still under the hand of Keys...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Salmon Burgers, Broccoli Soup, and Jicama-Sw. Potato Fries

Ok tonight i had to pull out the stops, because my mother-in-law is here and I cooked. I made homemade salmon burgers, with. Some broccoli soup, and a side of jicama and sweet potato fries. here's how to do it.

Start with the soup, because the longer it simmers the better it tastes. In a large pot, brown some chopped garlic and onion (with some seasoning, like pepper and cayenne) in olive oil. Once brown, add chopped broccoli, about 2-3 medium sized broccoli crowns per person you are feeding. Add 2-3 cups of water or vegetable broth. Cook until the broccoli is soft, it can be easily mashed with a fork. Once it can be ashes, remove it form the heat and blend it. Once al the broccoli is blended place back in the original pot, stir very well and add any additional seasoning you might like. Serve topped with some fresh chopped spring onions and pine nuts. I make my topping a little nice by mixing the spring onions and pines nuts in olive oil with fresh ground black pepper.

Now, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice one large sweet potato and one jicama into think fries. Lightly coat with olive oil and season to. Your liking. I used garlic powder and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, or until crispy on the outside. Turn a few times while cooking. i tend to flip and push mine around about every 120 minutes.

Salmon burgers. Ok this was fun. In. Food processor, or a Magic Bullet (which is what I use) blend 6 ounces of wild caught skinless salmon fillet with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and one free range wild fed egg. Then blend the rest of the salmon by itself (without egg or lemon). I used 1.5 pounds of salmon. Mix all the ground salmon together and make into Patties as you Would a beef burger. I made sure my hands were coated in some flaxseed-olive oil mix so that it would not stick to my hands, or the grill. These go last. They take about 5 minutes on each side (6 ounce salmon burger patties). While that's a cooking toss a few slices of Paleo bread in the toaster to get crispy. Also, this is the time to make the Omega-3 Cajun aioli. It's really easy to make the aioli. Blend 1 egg (preferably free range grass fed) with mustard powder, a squeeze of lemon juice (fresh), and some oil. Once the mixture starts to. Thicken up - and you will need to add a lot of oil and blend for a few minutes to make it whipped in texture, add some cajun seasoning. It's a touch spicy and wonderful on the burgers.

Serve with a smearing of the aioli on the toasted Paleo bread slice. We also spread some extra aioli on top of our burgers, soup in a small. Side bowl, and fries on the side. You can serve the fries with a little mustard, homemade ketchup, or dip in the aioli, if you feel the need. I also sprinkled the fries with some parley flakes.

This was a pretty good dinner, if I say so myself. It rounds out a low-carb, high-protein, high fat meal. But, all the fat is good fat, with the mixture of the flaxseed oil & salmon it ales for a good high Omega-3 meal.

My mother-in-law had a great idea. Instead of serving with soup, which was a bit much food, serve with a nice slaw of some sort. Next time i will make either a cole slaw, broccoli slaw, or maybe even try a slaw with some Jicama or radishes.


Fossil Fuel Paleo Cookies...

Dark Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Paleo Cookies

Kind of a slow Sunday afternoon, so I figured I'd experiment a bit and try and make come homemade Paleo cookies. I get adverts and messages all the time from people on facebook (on in my email) about buying their Paleo cookies and muffins. Since I already make my own muffins, I thought why not try to make my own cookies. I must admit, it turned out pretty well....
Here's what you need: nuts. Lots of nuts. Honey, the tiniest dash of salt, baking powder and aluminum free baking soda. 

Here's what to do: Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Make some nut meal/flour. I use a Magic Bullet to make homemade nut flour, but you could also go spend your whole pay check and buy some at the health food store. If you decide to make your own, it's way simple: toss a handful of almonds into the Bullet with some cinnamon. Grind away until a fine texture. Do the same thing with a few pecan and walnuts. Toss your flour into a large mixing bowl. Now with a knife, coarsely chop up some nuts: I used the same three as listed above (but I'd strongly recommend adding some coconut: some unsweetened coconut flakes would have sealed the culinary deal on these cookies, but the Kroger near my house has been out for Coconut for about 3-4 weeks...I must complain!) Now add some oil to the nut-nut flour mix. I used about 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil and 1 tbs walnut oil. Mix well. Add some honey: the more you add the sweeter it will be. 

In another smaller bowl, mix together the tiniest dash of salt, ~1/8 tsp of baking soda, and ~1/8 tsp baking powder with about a 1/2 cup-3/4 cup finely ground almond flour. 

Whip 2 egg whites until they are pretty stiff. You are going to mix them in, so it's not necessary that they be super duper stiff. 

Mix your whipped egg whites into the bowl with the oiled nuts & flour. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. It should be "batter like" so that you can place nice little scoops of the "cookie batter" on a greased cookie tin. I greased my cookie tin with walnut oil and I cooked them for 30 minutes at 350. Right before I put them in the oven I had the idea of making them like choco-chip cookies. I cut up some dark chocolate (>75% cacao) chunks and just placed them on the top of each cookie next to a macadamia nut. 

I've taste tested these on my wife, my mother-in-law and myself - the pass!

Enjoy. I bet they'd be great dipped in some coconut milk, with a smoothie, or a homemade Paleo frappuccino!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Paleo Ice Cream with Almond Butter Blast

Hot sunny humid days call for a special kind of mid-morning snack: Ice Cream! Ha! Seriously, however I did just down a anise frozen smoothie that emulates the tastes of an ice cream sunday nicely. It couldn't be simpler to make either.

Here's how to do it.

Add 3-5 pieces of ice to your food processor, blender, or like me your Magic Bullet. Add a scoop of whey protein powder (I use vanilla, but you could use any flavor you like), about 1/2 cup of vanilla flavored coconut milk, and add a few almonds for extra sweetness and fat. Blend until smooth.  Tip: if your smoothie is not very smooth, add more mil. If it's too runny then add more ice. It will taste best if it's very smooth and all of the ice is properly blended.  Top that with a a little Homemade Almond Butter Blast Clusters and you've got yourself a wonderful mid-morning snack on a hot humid Georgia day. It's like you just chased down the ice cream truck... LOL

This is a rather large mid-morning snack, but I woke up so early this morning - causing me to have a very early breakfast - so I was hungry. If you are zoning it rounds things out pretty nicely: ~ 3 blocks of protein, 3-6 blocks of fat (depending on how many almonds you added and how much coconut milk you add), and about 2 blocks of carbs (carbs from from the flavored coconut milk and the honey in the Clusters. You could also top with dark chocolate chunks or shavings, you could add some artificial or fresh mint flavoring, the sky really is the limit with flavoring this base for a nice cool treat. 


Friday, June 25, 2010

Breakfast, it does a body good!

Vegetable Omelet & Paleo Waffles

So I've already posted a ton of times about what I think is a great breakfast, but as a refresher I thought I would post again. I've had several questions lately about what to eat for breakfast: what can I eat with high protein, what can I eat if I am Zone-Paleo, or generally asked about ideas for what to eat for breakfast. Well, I have a few. The picture above is about my everyday example, but there are several others as well. 

First, if you are in a rush then I would suggest grabbing a bowl of Paleo Crunch with coconut milk. If you want to up the protein then sprinkle some whey protein on there and voila, a great, high protein, high fat, tasty as hell, breakfast that should easily hold you for a few hours, get you through a workout, or just satisfy your need to feed first thing in the am!

If you aren't in a rush then you can make a "proper" Paleo breakfast. Here's what I have about every morning (see Pic). 2 eggs - either in an omelet with some veggies or simply sunny side with a side of steamed vegetables (think spinach or broccoli), or a side salad. I also have a few Paleo waffles. They're really easy to make and round out a 4 block Zone-Paleo breakfast, if you care about such stuff. Here's the recipe, again... LOL

Whisk two eggs (preferably from free-range Omega-3 enriched chickens). Whisk in 1/3-1/2 a ripe banana (the riper the better for taste and cooking). Add almond flour to this mix. I make my own almond/nut flour by grinding up about 12-15 almonds, 2-3 pecans and a lot of cinnamon. Mix this into the egg and banana mixture. That's forms the base of your waffle batter. (Note: It can also be used as a pancake batter, although you'd probably want to add more banana or nut flour to make it a bit thicker for pancakes). To the batter you can add just about anything you like: I tend to add crushed walnuts or some dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)  One thing to remember about the waffles, these are not regular waffles so when your waffle iron says they are done: that light blinks or the iron makes a ding indicating it's time to take the waffles off the iron, it's not time to take the Paleo waffles off. I leave mine on for about another 1-2 minutes. That way they don't stick to the iron and you won't be left without that part of your breakfast. 

The eggs, omelet or veggies & two eggs on the side, and waffles (maybe a bit of fruit if you fancy it) rounds out to about a: 4 Protein, 4-8 Fat, and 1-3 Carb blocked meal. Perfect way to start your day, if you ask me. 

So, enjoy a good hearty Paleo breakfast. I would bet that you will feel better all day long.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Buffalo Sliders on Paleo Bun

 Pecan, Grape, & Strawberries over Mixed Greens

This was our starter salad. I dressed mine with fresh squeezed lime juice, walnut oil, fresh ground pepper and some cumin. It was really nice. 

Buffalo Sliders on Paleo Bun

I've posted the Paleo Bread recipe a million times now, so take that recipe and simply use a muffin tin instead of a bread pan. This makes a muffin-like bread, that when cut in half serves as a perfect burger bun for a slider. 

Buffalo Sliders
Buy (or kill your own) fresh, grass fed, free ranges buffalo meat. Add about 1/4 cup of fresh ground almond flour, 1 egg (preferably free range & Omega-3 enriched), garlic powder, and any other seasoning that you like. 
Grill about 2-3 minutes on each side. Seriously, these are so lean that they barely need to stay on the grill at all. 

We served our sliders with a side of steamed broccoli.

Lunch: Grilled Vegetable Salad topped with Cumin Grilled Chicken

Grilled Vegetable Salad topped with Cumin Grilled Chicken

Today's Paleo Lunch: filling, nutritious, and darn tasty!

Ingredients: Chicken breast, yellow squash, green squash/zuchinni, mushrooms, mixed greens for salad, olive oil, spices. 

Heat Grill

Toss some mixed greens into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and seasoning of your liking. Also, add some chopped walnuts. 

Slice Squashes length wise. Place in mixing bowl with mushrooms. Add olive oil (or any other good oil: walnut, flax, grapeseed oils will also work and vary flavor a bit) & spices. I added some crushed red pepper, fresh crushed garlic, garlic powder, paprika, and ground pepper (you could also add a dash of salt, but I didn't do that here). Mix well. Place on grille in a vegetable tray suitable for grilling. They will need to be tossed every 4-6 minutes; total cooking time about 16 - 20 minutes. 

Trim visibly fat from chicken breast. Best if you use free-range, organic, etc types of chicken, but it's especially important to trim the fat if you used regular super market chicken. Place chicken breast in mixing bowl or plastic bag with olive oil (again choice of oils here is up to you), a generous dose of cumin, red pepper, garlic powder, and a dash of basil. Mix well so that the breast is well covered. (I actually made three breasts so that I have some lunch this week). Place on grill the first time you go out to toss the vegetables. Flip on the third time you have to toss the vegetables. It will take about 5-8 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chicken. When cut, you want juices to run clear. Try to avoid overcooking or else the chicken will be VERY dry and quite nasty!

Once everything is cooked, toss some of the grilled veggies on top of your mixed greens and toss around a bit. Place sliced chicken breast atop the salad... and... ENJOY!

The Need, for Speed....

It's twice now that this has happened to me: my apparent dependence on coffee has waned while going unrestricted Paleo. Normally, I would "need" at least two, sometimes 3 cups of coffee in the morning, to get myself going. One cup while making breakfast. Another while eating breakfast. An occasional third cup if I a slow to eat or just chilling out after I ate. I am not sure if this was a personal dependence on caffeine or just the fact that I LOVE the taste of good coffee - probably some associatively conditioned combination, actually - but, you probably wouldn't want to be around me for long if I didn't have coffee with breakfast. It's be like driving without a steering wheel. 

Well, a few months ago I went unrestricted Paleo and I noticed that my cravings for coffee dropped. So, as usual, I utilized myself as an experimental subject and stopped drinking as much, just to see what would happen. Turns out: nothing bad happened. I was fine. OK, neat effect. Then I was training for a competition and again experimenting on myself so I tried to dial in my fitness by combining a Zone-Paleo eating style. First off, this was utterly annoying - I am not a big fan - at all - of weighing and measuring our foods. I certainly understand the utility of doing so, but I am far from an elite athlete so it just frustrates me (not to mention those around me) and it makes me very irritable. Very irritable!  Additionally, while weighing and measuring I redeveloped the need for my morning coffee. In fact, within just a few short days of Zoning in, I was back to a solid, unwavering 3 cups a morning. I'd also add 1-3 cups throughout the day in the form of a coffee smoothie or iced coffee with coconut milk. Sure, tasty as hell, but I did notice I was drinking a lot more coffee again. (When I was a graduate student I peaked at about 12-13 cups per day during my third year.)

Immediately after the competition & after a long conversation with my gorgeous wife Austen I decided to switch back to unrestricted Paleo. Within just 2 short days I now am again feeling as though my dependence on coffee is loosening. In fact, I drink one small cup in the morning with my breakfast (not while cooking or while sitting afterward) simply because I like the taste of it. I wonder what would happen if I tried decaf?! Oh boy, I hear another self-experiment in the works. 

At any rate, I was wondering if anyone else doing Paleo has experienced a similar effect and if they'd like to share it here.