Coconut milk ‘iced cream’ in five minutes!?!

Strawberries!

Even we of the primal-set aren’t so austere that we don’t enjoy a good dessert every now and again. This one is easy, delicious, and makes a delicious iced cream substitute. (In fact, this recipe might even be considered… vegan!) Basically, it’s an easy iced cream analog that takes almost no time to make up and is tasty, wonderful, and about as simple as you can get. Without further ado, here is the LONG list of ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz can of Coconut milk
  • 14oz of FROZEN fruit (we generally use berries, but you could theoretically use any fruits – besides, berries are more primal-friendly, right?;)
  • 3 tablespoons of honey (or to taste. I think that 3 tablespoons isn’t too sweet, but less wouldn’t have been horrible, either).

That’s it. Now for the instructions…

  1. Scoop the coconut milk into a food processor, and blend until no longer lumpy.
  2. Throw in your frozen berries.
  3. Add your honey.
  4. Blend until everything is smooth and the consistency of iced cream.

And that’s it! It’ll be soft, but it’s ready to eat right now. If you want, you can drop it into a bowl and throw it in the fridge to set up further. I’m not sure on how long it will keep in the freezer, but it won’t last long!

Other thoughts I’ve had regarding this treat:

  • Blend then freeze (in an ice cube tray) a can worth of coconut milk. Prepare as above, substituting the frozen coconut milk for the fruit. Add in vanilla to taste.
  • Follow the above steps, but add dark chocolate instead.

Good luck, and remember: it’s about having fun and getting in the kitchen and trying things out!

Enjoy!

Still life - Flowers, iced cream, chocolate and rabbit

Three Months on the primal fringe – Part Two

30 days

handstands

Handstands in the National Park

I started immediately. No more hamburgers, pastas, or bread with dinner. No sandwiches or crackers. I made it my goal, and decided that it was going to be easy to do it for 30 days.

And it was.

I was amazed at how good I felt. Everything made sense. There are reasons humans like meat and fats (and some sweet things). Just like a goat or a cougar knows what it needs to survive and what kind of food that it needs to eat in order to live and thrive, so does the human animal. But we’ve gotten smart enough that we can turn it off, or altogether ignore it. And when you really start to think about it, that’s not such a smart thing, in the long run.

After a couple of days had rolled by, I talked my wife into doing it, too. It was just going to be easier, it was something that we had been talking about anyway (at least changing up our diet and eating better quality food was), and this seemed like something easy to try for 30 days. With her on board, things got even easier.

Breakfasts consisted eggs, meat, and veggies, all cooked in either bacon grease or coconut oil. Olive oil was regulated to salads, which were frequent lunchtime events. These weren’t just little salads, but rather epic excursions full of leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, onion, mushrooms, and of course some sort of meat. Usually I would top them with a half or a quarter of an avocado, and round that all out with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil (with just a splash of Dijon mustard to hold the whole dressing together). These salads generally fit into the largest tupperware we owned, and usually it was enough.

Squash Fever

Dinners were varied but simple, consisting mainly of meat and vegetables, sometimes a salad as well. Since we were working ourselves fairly strenuously with CrossFit, we decided a bit of starchy carbohydrates were called for. We added sweet potatoes (already a family favorite), and various squashes to our meals. In addition to being good for us, they kept us stocked with the carbohydrate energy our bodies and minds needed to survive the new taxing situations they were being put into. It was a perfect fit.

Additionally, we still had a small indulgence of a small piece of dark chocolate daily. It was the one simple thing that we were able to do in order to keep my wife from going crazy. Plus, it was a delicious way to end a day. Our favorite is a dark mint chocolate we were able to find with minimal ingredients. It’s delicious, full of antioxidant goodness, and simple. Sometimes (usually) that’s all you really need.

Our diet contained no dairy, little fruit, and no legumes or grains of any kind for thirty days. During that time we experienced different reactions to the purification of our food intake. We ate until satisfied, and did not once count a calorie.

Benefits

There were several benefits, for me in particular. I had previously suffered from what had become chronic nasal allergies. The daily and nearly constant allergic discomfort had started nearly two years ago (although looking back now, I can see even as far back as ten years ago the telltale signs of the allergy – and I attributed it to milk… more on that later) and had progressed to the point where I was taking a maintenance dose of over the counter Costco variety Claritin. I had played with my diet earlier, removing dairy only from my diet, but it had really not had a significant effect. Ridding myself of grains and/or legumes, however, did seem to do the trick.

At first, I noticed that my allergies seemed less, but was still fearful of removing the lortadine completely. The sneezing and itchy, watery eyes could get unbearable. As time went on, I noticed I was still feeling better. I started to wean myself off of it, hopeful that I had unlocked the secret to what had been ailing me for a number of years. Within a week I was only taking it intermittently (two or three times a week, as opposed to seven). Within two weeks, I wasn’t really taking it at all. It appeared as though I had solved the riddle.

Another benefit was what equates to rapid weight loss. Yes, we were working out hard with Crossfit. However, our workouts were in general less than a half-hour in length (the WOD in particular – the warm up, strength, and agility training brought the total time to an hour) three times a week. There is no way to burn enough calories in three hours max per week to lose the amount of weight that I lost without the significant change in diet. If the workout was doing anything, it was actually inflating my numbers.

In fact, to look at my calculations I went from 19.19% bodyfat at the beginning of the year to a current body fat percentage of 12. Additionally, over the last month (March 8th to April 20th, it’s also calculated that I GAINED approximately 4.5 pounds of muscle while losing over three pounds total. So in terms of effectiveness, this has been a very effective weight loss tool, though my reasons for doing it were not at all weight driven. (Oddly enough, using BMI calculations, I am still overweight at 12% bodyfat, and what’s more, a ‘healthy’ range – again according to BMI for someone of my height would be 152# – 205#. At 152#, I would be a skeleton dancing around for all to see. No thank you. I’ll happily remain ‘overweight’, thankyouverymuch.)

We saw other benefits, including some you wouldn’t expect. Whiter teeth, clearer skin, and improved mood were all on the list of benefits. In short – it was good to be grain free.

Fast forward three months, and our diet has not really changed. Legumes do occasionally find their way into our meals (rarely and never at home), as does wheat (again never at home). We’ve thoroughly advertised and socialized through our families that this is the way we are choosing to eat, now, and that we have experienced many positive benefits from doing so and are not interested in regressing these benefits. We have reintroduced SOME dairy into our diets, but we’re mostly eating artisinal raw milk cheeses, which are high in flavor and fat and therefore don’t require a ton to introduce that wonderful cheesy flavor.

Additionally, when I eat some grains (wheat specifically, so far as I know. Corn doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue for me), I get stuffed up within an hour or so and have to take a claritin. Beer seems to have the same effect on me, as well, so in general I kind of make it a point to stay away from wheat – which is sad, because I love a good beer. But now I know the result and the cause, and can make a risk assessment before I drink a beer or eat a sandwich. Usually, it’s not worth the consequences and I choose to not have them (and I’ve never yet had it be worth it to have a sandwich, but there have been a few beers here and there:).

So as of today, I’m happy, healthy, and stronger than I’ve ever been before. I feel great and wouldn’t give it up for the standard American diet in any way, shape, or form. (Which is not to say I don’t every once in a while have a desire to have a thick smear of butter on top of a half a sourdough roll – but that’s really more for the sake of the butter than anything else.)

The other massive boon to our existence and well-being has been the gym. We made the choice to try it out, and we love it. We’re gaining strength, skill, and agility faster than we ever have before (in our adult lives). It’s truly been an amazing year.

So get out there, and try life on the fringe. It’s a lot of fun, you feel great, and you get to challenge yourself. If you can’t go 100%, then just push yourself as far as you can. Any time you have something you probably shouldn’t or do or don’t do something, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just part of life. Failure is an option, and it’s the only way we find our way to success.

What about your stories? Have you spent any time on the fringe? What are your experiences or thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Robb Wolf’s Liberty Garden concept

Lettuce have some salad!

One of the most important things you do every day is make decisions on what kinds of things you will use to fuel your body. Beef or chicken? Grassfed or storebought? What kinds of veggies? You gonna throw some corn down, or perhaps a big-ass sandwich? Maybe that’s not such a great idea.

Regardless of the choices you ultimately end up making, the choice itself is an important one. Your body is – without a doubt – the most important thing you own. How you choose to fuel it should respect that level of importance, in my opinion. And herein lies a problem inherent in the system – you can make good choices that still end up being less good choices based on how that fuel was raised/grown/created. And while you may not be able to fully know how all your fuel was created, it’s important to take those baby steps to getting to where you would like to be. (If you’re happy guzzling Mountain Dew and Ritz crackers, you can pretty much disregard this. Realistically, you’re probably not reading this anyway.)

Enter the Liberty Garden concept as promoted by Robb Wolf. Here’s the concept in an even smaller nutshell than Robb’s site talks about it: You are what you eat; in order to know what you’re eating, you should grow some of it because factory farming is involved in practices that can be called questionable (not to mention non sustainable), and that a great way to start it is using your own yard/kitchen window/balcony/veranda/fire escape/WHATEVER to start growing some of your own stuff. Sounds easy, right? It is! Just throw some seeds in some healthy soil (dirt is such a dead sounding word), keep it watered as per the directions on the back of the package, make sure the plants have adequate sunlight, and voila! instant food.

The Liberty Garden – Robb Wolf

To start, I would recommend some herbs. They’re usually very resilient and do well. If you think you have a black thumb, go with these to start. They’re almost a sure thing.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there, and get growing!

9 foods to thrive on.

Cow's are goooood!

A month ago, Primal TOAD asked a simple question “If You Could Only Live on 9 Foods, What Would They Be?” The game is basically “desert island discs” but with food instead of music. I just stumbled across it, and it seems like a great exercise – something kinda fun, but at the same time, a good look at how people eat and how their preferences dictate their diet.

So, without further ado, here is my list.

1. Steelhead – Take the best salmon you’ve ever had and turn it up to 11. Yes, it’s so good that I used one of the three “This is Spinal Tap” references I have left for the year.

2. Beef steak – it’s versatile, and theoretically you could grind it, shred it, cube it, grill it, broil it, braise it or hell, just eat it raw.

3. Onions – I add these to almost everything. They can offer a real change.

4. Portabello mushrooms – again, delicious and they can be thrown in soups, eggs, stir fries, you name it.

5. Butternut squash – it’s a sweet and hearty vegetable. What’s not to like?

6. Bacon – Nothing more to say, here. Not only this, but a byproduct of bacon is bacon grease, which is terrific to cook with.

7. Eggs – Use them in anything. They’re easy to grow, too!

8. Broccoli – Delicious and good for you. We eat this all the time.

9. Macadamia nuts – these may be the most delicious nut on the planet. Bet you can’t eat just one handful!

I found that paleo erin did the same thing, as well as paleo at penn. Both are interesting reads. I think it’s interesting to see the differences and similarities (for instance, chicken breast didn’t even enter the top 25 list, let alone the top 9.

Anyone else have a top 9 list they’d be willing to share?

Beef and squash soup – a tasty adventure

1.5# beef (we used tenderloin, but any can be used) cubed.

1 whole large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp dried parsley flakes

3/4 tsp rosemary

1/2 tsp ground cloves

2 cups mushrooms, quartered

8 cups Beef base/broth – just enough to cover the vegetables

2 tbsp butter or other saturated fat cooking oil

 

In a large pot, saute the vegetables  in the butter, being sure to add in the herbs and spices (reserve the bay leaf for later) until just beginning to soften.

In a separate skillet, brown the beef cubes.

When the vegetables are ready to go, add the beef base/broth to the pot and bring to a simmer.

Add the bay leaf.

When the beef has browned, add it to the soup pot.

Continue to let simmer until vegetables reach desired tenderness (they should be easily pierced with a fork).

Salt and pepper to taste throughout the cooking process.

 

Enjoy! It’s a great soup, and quite simple, too. The butternut squash and cloves give it a sweeter character, but it adds to the whole of the soup, offering up a nice counterpoint to the richness of the beef.

Primal chili – chili on the fringe

mmmm... chili

Just wanted to relay a recipe I made up this evening for primal chili. Being well aware of what goes into a conventional chili, I was able to cobble this – dare I say amazing? – chili recipe together. Overall, it’s pretty simple, and probably serves four or five. It’s hearty and delicious and has a nice beefy flavor. In order to go full primal/paleo, you should probably omit the red wine, but I certainly didn’t lose any sleep over having it in there, and the flavor speaks for itself.

Without any further ado, here we go!

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 7 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 2 lbs grass fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red table wine
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh minced oregano
  • 1 tbsp irish butter

Sarah and I do the majority of our cooking in cast iron, so I threw the butter, onion, celery and garlic into a large cast iron skillet, careful to keep the heat low to keep oxidization down. On top of that, add the cinnamon. Cook these until tender – about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, brown the 2 lbs of ground beef (again, I used another cast iron skillet).

When the onions and celery are looking pretty close to translucent, clear a space out in the middle of the skillet and throw in the mushrooms and oregano. If needed, add a little more butter to help the mushrooms cook more thoroughly.  This should only take about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Add the wine to the onions, celery and mushrooms. It should sizzle and deglaze the skillet, as well as add a nice color to the onion and celery. Transfer this mixture into a good sized pot so we can finish the chili.

Next, add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the pot, followed by the salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Stir until everything is thoroughly coated in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Finally, add the ground beef to the rest of the chili. Bring to a simmer and it’s ready to go! We added cubed avocado to ours, as well as a little cottage cheese for the little barbarian. If you want it a little spicier, add cayenne pepper (not more chili powder). 1/8th of a teaspoon goes a long way, so be gentle.

I hope you enjoy it. If you try it, let me know what you think. The red wine really works to intensify the beefy flavor of the beef, and adds a nice level of body to the pot of chili in general.

Bon apetit!