Archive | January, 2012

Weekly Round Up

29 Jan

Links, conversations, photos and other craziness that went down in the Highbrow Paleo group.

What's up!??! Sara's badass steak and onion spread!

Lucas's Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Beef with tomatoes, potato and rice. A safe starch bonanza!)

Two adorable Highbrowers shared this meal. Duck, sweet potato roasted in duck fat and something green.

Kids Love This Shit

27 Jan

Or, how to get your offspring to eat a bag of kale.

We all came here for the food.  Sometimes it feels as though parents are in the minority in the world of paleo-ish.  I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, and while they do not eat a paleo diet, I do all the cooking and shopping and they don’t, so they suck it up and deal.  Kids can be picky and downright monstrous around feeding time, and while its tempting to lay a tarp on the floor and toss food down to them from a safe distance,  its not always feasible.

Kale chips, blueberries, and chicken and veal liver pate. Just frickin' eat it!

I have a few recipes up my sleeve that the kids are cool with, and that are cheap and healthy.  My favorite is Sister Slaw.  I originally got the idea from the beautiful and incomparable Primal Kitchen, who you should love tightly, particularly if you have children and you feed them food.  Her bento box posts are hypnotic.  Anyhoo, get yourself a big bag of kale, or two bunches  I have to mince that onion into practically a puree without my daughter seeing it.  She’s highly suspicious of anything resembling an onion, but its an important addition to the Sister Slaw.  We otherwise make the slaw together meaning I (wo)man the blood-thirsty mandoline and she gets to dump everything together.  It’s important to really massage the dressing into the veggies.  Put on some Al Green and work it.  Make sweet love to it and when you’re done, stick her in the icebox for a couple of hours. [Editors note: The slaw, not the child.]  The kids get this with some U.S.Wellness hot dogs and then I congratulate myself.

Second helping of Sister Slaw

Use the other half of your kale for some chips.  My daughter is actually licking the plate right this second.  She just ate an entire bunch of kale. [Editor’s Note: Meredith just tried kale chips with coconut oil and ate all the kale in the whole wide world because it was so delicious.]  A good trick to keep in mind for the kiddos to get them to eat their veggies is to add more fat and more salt.  Plain kale is kind of gross, but drown in sea salt and good quality olive oil and it’s snack.  I serve these up with some sweet potato puffs, or chicken tenders dipped in egg and rolled in crushed Rice Krispies.

Kids are cool; they will generally eat whatever shit you put in front of them if they get hungry enough.  Note that they tend to get hungrier if they are running around than if they are in front of the TV all day.  Adding fat and salt makes things more delicious and harder to resist, and if they had a hand in cooking it, even more likely that they will try it.  Don’t stress, yo.  Also, be confident in your child’s ability to not starve themselves.  They are remarkable creatures who will likely outlive you.

Sister Slaw

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale (dinosaur kale), shredded
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  1. Stir together the kale, green cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, and onion in a very large bowl; set aside.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and stir thoroughly, making sure to coat the vegetables very well. Chill in the refrigerator for two hours before serving.

Kale Chips

  • Some kale
  • some olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the hard center ribs and tear the leaves into pieces. Toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Try to wait for the pan to cool before eating.

Sweet Potato Puffs

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4c chopped nuts
  • coconut oil
  • cinnamon, salt, other seasonings you might prefer
  1. Stab the potato all over with a fork or knife, and microwave for 5 minutes or so until its cooked through.  Cut it in half, and scoop out the flesh into a bowl, mashing as you do. It doesn’t have to be uniformly smooth, so don’t kill yourself.
  2. Crack two eggs into the mashed sweet potato and mix.
  3. Stir in your crushed nuts, salt and any seasonings you like.  My kids like cinnamon.  I like Ras-el-Hanout.
  4. Fry up in some coconut oil on medium heat until cooked through.

Are You Well Fed?

25 Jan

This post can also be seen at Julia’s blog- Queen of the Stoneage.

I was so excited to learn last year that Melissa Joulwan was coming out with a cookbook. Melissa writes the very popular blog The Clothes Make The Girl, which is my go-to resource for fun Whole30 meals, delicious homemade sauces, and paleo-friendly ethnic recipes. After checking out the handy-dandy free sample though, I saw that this book is so much more!

If you’re a paleo-eater, you may find yourself spending a pretty ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen. I don’t have children or a spouse to cook for, yet I often find myself coming home from the gym, and spending upwards of two hours preparing my dinner for that evening, plus my lunch and breakfast for the next day. I love to cook, and I know this is an investment in my health, but it’s still a bit much! Well, I am happy to say this is now a thing of the past, thanks to Melissa’s tips. Well Fed outlines how to run your kitchen like a restaurant, so you’re never more than a few minutes away from a good meal. Melissa recommends taking a couple of hours each week to cook up a few pounds of meat and partially cook a bunch of veggies (this is the “Weekly Cookup”); these items can be infinitely combined into “Hot Plates” with seasonings and sauces to keep your belly happy over the week. It makes so much sense, I was kicking myself for not thinking of it before! I did my first cookup this past Sunday; my self-diagnosed ADD was raging, but I got it done (and unfortunately burned up a batch of bacon) and it was SO worth the effort. When I got home from work on Monday, I had my dinner on the table within five minutes, ate it, and then had my Tuesday lunch and breakfast packed away fifteen minutes later. Shazaam!

Cookup #1 (with the Beggarcat)

Yes, the cookbook has fantastic recipes too!  Melissa’s Paleo Pad Thai is a favorite of mine, and I am looking forward to cooking my way through the whole book.  My (non-paleo) sis looked through the book and declared that every single recipe looked like something she would like- not too shabby!  If you only buy one cookbook this year, Well Fed is well worth it.

Ask nicely and your copy can by signed by the Melicious herself!

Weekly Round-Up

22 Jan

Here’s but a sampling of links, discussions and posts that have been bandied about the Highbrow Paleo group:

Matthew's Drippings

  • We looked over Chris Masterjohn’s new paper about the benefits of green tea.
  • Carly quotes Dr. Cordain:

“If you are about 75% Paleo compliant, you won’t need any vitamin or mineral supplements (except possibly vitamin D and fish oil). Many new studies suggest that antioxidant supplements may actually increase overall mortality and disease morbidity. I have listed these references in my new book.The vitamin and mineral density of a typical contemporary diet based on Stone Age food groups (748 milligrams of C or 1247 % of the DRI) is quite high.”

What say you?

  • We talked over Melissa McEwen’s post over on regarding the invisible women of Paleo.
  • Smelts, you know those little fish you are supposed to eat bones and all. For Elizabeth it was a 50/50 experience. The bones were kinda gross, but she’s got quite a few heads with which she’ll make a nice stock.
  • Looks like many HBP peeps like their fish sauce. Winning brand is Red Boat. 
  • Since the people in our group are very much so interested in taking health and diet into our own hands, we tend to pay attention to “outside of the box” nutrition advice. However, Matthew offers up this blog post to stir some debate over how to stray from mainstream advice while staying out of the “crazy stuff”.

Julie's gluten-free coconut cake

Fazila's tripe, mutton and beef satay with mini cucumbers and tapai (fermented glutinous rice wrapped in guava leaves)

Herring with fermented DURIAN sauce and cassava shoots by Fazila

Weekly Round-up

15 Jan

Here are just a few of the subjects, links and discussions the Highbrow Paleo group had this week. Enjoy!

  • Some of us can’t get enough of Aravind. We keep sneaking off in the middle of the day to do it with him. Meditate that is.
  • What are some of our favorite cheeses you ask? Here’s a few: Danish bleu, blueberry goat cheese, Epoisses Appenzeller, Manchego, Stilton, aged Gouda, Parrano, Camembert, Mizithra, raclette, curds, Brie, Stilton, Roquefort, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Limburger and Feta. And member Sean tells us that all Swiss cheeses are made with raw milk, by grass-fed cattle…by law! Good to know.
  • Physical therapy versus naturopathy, bitches!
  • Cut off the tip of a finger in a cooking accident and now need a nice healing protocol? We pieced together this one: Vitamin C, Zinc, B12, Folic Acid, Gotu Kola, topical St. John’s Wort and olive oil.
  • We listened to and discussed Chris Masterjohn’s interview on Bulletproof Exec.
  • We “stabbed”away at this paper – a unifying theory of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • One of our members shared her amazing transformation with us and on her blog.
  • Speaking of awesome blogs we need to appreciate more, how about Tony’s blog FED- Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction? Pretty great, right
  • Fat + vinegar + cooked, but then cooled potato = Lower glycemic response to starch. 
  • One member’s month-long no grocery shopping pledge is well on its way and is chronicled here
  • One fascinating thread started with this: “I am going nuts on nuts. Am I going to die?” Here’s how it progressed: Yes, but not because of the nuts. —-> There’s the omega-6 content, which of course should probably be kept fairly low for best results. Macadamias barely have any, though.  —-> Ratio within a food doesn’t matter, it’s a more complex relationship having more to do with absolute amounts in the diet. Eat all foods with no omega-6 except for fish, and you’re doing as well as you can do. —-> Grass fed beef has more omega-3, that can be good to meet a requirement. But the ratio within a food doesn’t matter. The absolute amounts of both in grass-fed beef are pretty low, which makes it an ideal meat because of the low omega-6 content. If there is no fish in the diet, it is desirable to get grass-fed, but if there is fish then it’s not important because there is enough already. —-> It seems like I would still eat loads of butter, bacon, grass-fed beef, and fish, and not much would change at all…except maybe feeling a bit better about eating pecans. —-> And indeed nothing changes, as long as you stay under the magic number, nothing really does. But when people compare something stupid likely 25g of omega-6 and 15g of omega-6 in a study, when we should definitely be getting somewhere under 9 for optimal anti-inflammatory signaling, that’s when it’s useful to know. It’s a very important academic point, not because it’s relevant to us but to public policy in a world full of soy oil and no inhibitions about it —-> Re: high omega 3 and low omega 6, I think there is a substantial amount of evidence (both experimental and theoretical) to suggest that at least initially, obese patients might benefit from increasing omega 3 intake, despite its chemical nature. This is one part of a theory I have in mind, which seems to contradict my (and other people I respect) support of SFA. —-> What do you think of the idea that various saturated fats need omega-3 to function properly in the body? Stearic acid here specifically  —-> I’m not sure we can be in full agreement on the fish, though. There are major sustainability questions having to deal with wild caught fish, and even bigger health concerns with farm raised. —-> A problem with the omega-3 in meat is that it’s not long-chain, it’s the same kind in flax, so it may be better than nothing, but it’s generally not going to cut it from brain health. —-> Krill or algae oil may be better if one were putting sustainability considerations in the foreground? —-> Neptune krill oil specifically has 3 positive studies done on it, it appears to work.


Here’s what some of us had for dinner this week

~Roasted green beans with a chicken stir-fry

~ Leftover pot roast and some liver for good measure

   ~ Sesame cucumber salad with pork carnitas

~ Venison short ribs with veggies

Chicken breast stuffed with pureed and herbed chicken livers and spinach all wrapped in bacon served with steamed local tiny beets

~ Chili, with liver of course

Lamb shank and lamb ribs sautéed spinach and onions and honey-candied squash

~ Roasted chicken leg, broccoli and a sweet potato with lots of butter

Home-smoked pulled pork, oxtail broth, egg yolks fried in bacon grease

~ Pecans, dried pineapple, ginger yogurt, oven bakes thick cut bacon, two eggs scrambled, potato, turkey patty, collard greens, apple

Oxtail and root veg stew 

~ 3 idlis (fermented with iodized salt), spinach with ground coconut, sweet potatoes cooked in ghee, misc Indian spices.


A Beautiful Balance

10 Jan

“In medical school I had not received any significant instruction on the subject. I was not alone. Only approximately 6 percent of the graduating physicians in the United States have any training in nutrition. Medical students may take elective courses on the topic, but few actually do… the education of most physicians is disease-oriented with a heavy emphasis on pharmaceuticals — we learn about drugs and why and when to use them.” Robert Strand, M.D., Death by Prescription.

I was on an airplane late last summer while returning from a weekend jaunt of head-clearing and writing. On the second leg of my flight, I was seated next to a woman who turned out to be a liaison for a pharmaceutical company returning from a business trip. The primary purpose of her trip was to push her company’s new diabetes drug. She explained to me that the new drug she was pushing was groundbreaking because it was an inhibitor of a particular protein which extended the half-life of another drug which aided beta cell health in diabetics (beta cells are the place insulin is made).

She explained all of this using the language of he education: biochemistry and pharmacy. She also had an air of infallibility.

After she finished describing this drug, I only had one question for her: “What is the function of the protein that your new drug inhibits and what effect does that have downstream?” She looked at me with a puzzled and sheepish look and confirmed what I had been thinking all along. She had no idea.

Prior to this, we had spent close to an hour arguing about what she “knew” as a medical professional and where I was far astray regarding topics where I disagreed with the medical establishment’s conventional wisdom- which were many. But this was a turning point in our conversation because it was the opening for her to see what I had been trying to get her to understand during our conversation up to this point. She knew the biochemical mechanisms and pathways of the biological systems she studied. She knew that if you introduced this drug, the result would be the alteration of a particular pathway in a specific manner. However, what I was trying to get her to see was what I’d learned reading about and experimenting with various approaches, and eventually beating obesity, was that there is a common thread running through obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancers, and other modern illnesses and diseases.

Though our medical professionals are better equipped and more knowledgeable about the human body than at any other time in history, their main accomplishment has only been to keep a sick populace alive longer in its chronic state of illness. They have become masters of the microbiology while ignoring the “macrobiology”- I think the fact that that “macrobiology” isn’t a recognized word is indicative of how we’ve approached overall health. The point is that even though people are living longer, they are becoming sick and debilitated much earlier leading to a greatly reduced quality of life.

The reason for this is complex but at the base level I think it can be explained by the fact that our bodies are out of balance. We have strayed from our original stasis. Stasis is a Greek word that represents balance and equilibrium. There is a baseline of health and wellness that allows us to enjoy a high quality of life virtually devoid of the chronic physical pain and ailments, that have become commonplace in modern societies, well into old age- a beautiful stasis.

The common occurrence of ailments before the onset of middle age is a new phenomenon. On every level of nature there is a balance that holds each system together until an outside force upsets that balance and a period of disruption occurs until a balance is restored. It’s the way nature adapts. It’s the way we survive.

From a biological perspective, human beings in modern society are in a period of biological disruption. The rapid onset of obesity and other modern diseases are harbingers of the fact that we’re out of balance. The changes that are happening in our bodies are too rapid for natural adaptive mechanisms to take over and adapt to survive, so we end up sicker and weaker.

Even if we don’t get caught up in the speculative nature of looking too far into the past, just looking at present-day traditional cultures- those that eat and live closer to the way humans have traditionally-who are as a whole are almost always healthier and free of the modern illnesses and diseases than those of us in more modern societies. I’m not suggesting we fully adopt hunter-gatherer lifestyles.

Technology and modern society has provided us with many creature comforts that many of us don’t want to leave- nor should we. Science and technology progress have given us medicines and treatments for viral and bacterial ills that, in the past, would have killed many of us. Our lifestyles are different and many of us have permanently changed our biology in some ways where some things that have been innocuous in the past are now harmful.

Having said that, I do believe that scientific and clinical success has brought upon us an era of arrogance in the medical community where the main measurement of success is longevity with less and less focus being on quality of life. Myself and many others who eat an evolutionarily appropriate diet have taken control of our health because we perceive that the modern medical establishment has failed us. In response, we’ve taken control of our health and wellness and stopped outsourcing our overall well-being.

Our bodies aren’t like taxes you drop off at Jackson- Hewitt or the family car that we drop off at the mechanic. After battling obesity for most of my life with the health problems that usually accompany that, I began to research biology, microbiology, dietary literature, epidemiological studies and other sources trying to educate myself to better health. I discovered a lot- particularly about obesity and other modern diseases- about how diet is the main factor driving modern ailments and what foods and lifestyle choices are the most egregious offenders.

I don’t know everything, or anything close to it, but what I have learned is that we should be more proactive and educated when it comes to our health and not leaving it in the hands of the medical field, no matter how auspicious those certificates on their walls are

Almond-Crusted Cod

10 Jan

This post can also be seen at Queen of the Stoneage and on Chowstalker.

This is one of those uber-easy, yet impressive-looking dishes!  I’ve been disappointed by the lack of wild salmon at my local BJs, but they do have wild haddock and cod; either is great in this recipe. 

Almond meal is something I like to just use in moderation; when I first went grain-free, I was going pretty buckwild with almond flour-based baked goods, but I’ve cut way back since learning about that pesky oxidized omega-6 😦  Yes, some things are too good to be true…  This makes 3 servings (I like to have leftovers to microwave at work the next day and stink up the office).

1 lb cod filet

3/4 cup almond meal *UPDATE* I have also done this with chopped, slivered almonds and liked it even better!

3 TBS melted clarified butter

1 lemon

1 tsp salt

2 tsp Italian seasoning, herbes de Provence or whatever herbs you like

– Preheat oven to 500

– Lay fish out on a cookie sheet lined with foil

– Combine other ingredients and spread evenly in a thin layer over the fish (if using almond meal, it should be a wet-doughy consistency)

– Bake for about ten minutes until fish is flaky and topping starts to darken; serve with lemon wedges

For sides, I just sauteed some quartered baby bella mushrooms and green beans with garlic.

Weekly Round-up

8 Jan

Here’s a quick round-up of posts, links and topics that the Highbrow Paleo (HBP) Group has discussed in this past week. Enjoy!

Weekly Round-up

1 Jan

Here’s a quick round-up of topics, projects, links, etc. that we’ve shared in the Highbrow Paleo (HBP)  group:

  • On New Year’s Eve several members implemented Stabby’s nutriceutical drinking protocol – with GREAT success.
  • HBP-ers are partnering up to commit to 30 day Feats of Strength for the month of January. Some will be incorporating daily meditation, others committing to a Whole 30, and others are going to write their doctoral theses.
  •  Ever get s headache from sleeping? Seems like a lot of people do.
  • Some people really DO like natto! Especially when it’s made sushi style.

    Sushi style natto.

  • Looks like Mercola is jumping on the saturated fat bandwagon. The group agreed that his interpretation of Ancel Keys’ work could use a little Minger.
  • Some of the smartypants people in the HBP group discussed this newly published study.  Rodents were made obese through a “high fat lard based” diet which resulted in damage to the hypothalamus. Some of the group members expressed disappointment in the study as a truly low carb, high fat diet was not used. Furthermore, lard is not lard! Still, others found the resulting hypothalamic damage interesting.
  • Bacterides and bifidus are some species that seem to produce k2. In this study, it was difficult to produce k2 deficiency – but antibiotics is definitely one way.
  • Some biohacking types in HBP have had GREAT results taking about 450mg of pantethine (right before lady-time) for getting rid of hormonal acne.
  • Strength training, a whole foods diet, and a 92 year old track and field star names Olga.
  • A very giving and wise HBP member has been providing some guided meditations over the phone. So cool!