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!

Nightline article on the “Caveman lifestyle” and my experiences with paleo

Ah “Caveman Lifestyle” – a modern day euphemism for someone who is committed to functional movement and eating a paleo style diet.

Nightline clip on the “Cavemen”

Nightline, on ABC.

The segment features Art DeVany and Robb Wolf. It is not a deep treatment of the topic, but it is interesting. It in no way goes into the real reasons for trying the paleo diet, which include: the reduction of inflammation in the body, improved health in general and for people with autoimmune diseases in particular.

Of course, the science is still new on all this, and studies that have occurred are small, but there have been thousands of people (in the video, Robb mentions the number one million) who have at the very least anecdotal evidence that this seems to be wildly successful for them. There are reports of reduced cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, a reduction in heart disease and diabetes. It’s all very encouraging, and in my opinion, the way to go.

My experiences:

My wife and I have been following a paleo regimen for the previous month and a half going on two months. At first it was a little hard, because we STILL haven’t cleared the products we no longer really eat out of the house. That said, we haven’t had to worry about it so much. In addition to the paleo diet, we joined Crossfit Bellevue. We’ve collectively lost over 11 total inches, as well as 22 pounds… in less than two months. Pretty incredible, really. (Total inches is calculated by measuring around each arm at the thickest part of the bicep, the waist horizontally at the navel, the hips at the thickest part, and each thigh at the midpoint. The sum of those is our total inch measurement.

The interesting thing is that I have lost more overall weight, but far fewer inches than she has. The whole experience has been very interesting and eye opening.

The real reason we decided to try the paleo diet is for the anti-inflammatory and potential health benefits. Neither of us had what we would consider any kind of food allergies – no real issues with dairy or grains or legumes, and we were for the most part healthy. I had some low level hay-fever allergies and she has suffered for most of her life with intermittent bouts with acne.

Our time on the paleo diet has resulted in several unforseen benefits. Her acne is increasingly clear, and my hay fever allergies have been greatly reduced (I only sneezed once today – and that’s a real accomplishment for me). Additionally, we have noticed a general improvement in skin tone and consistency (not blotchy or mottled), greater energy, and whiter teeth. Another unforeseen benefit was that it forced us out of our ‘food routine’, and to really expand our recipes and cooking styles. We cook with coconut oil, as well as butter and animal fats, all in cast iron cookware over low heat to prevent oxidization of the oils we are cooking in – and it is all delicious. I have not had my blood lipids or cholesterol tested yet, but I will soon. (My annual physical is due).

These changes have been among the most positive changes we have ever made. I weigh less and can lift and do more, as well as run harder and further than I did on the day I was married – perhaps ever. I feel like I am in the best shape overall functional shape of my life. I have a picture from before we started this routine, but I won’t post it for another month. I figure 3 months is a good period of time to measure progress.

So you’ll get to see all too much Hal next month. I know you’re all on pins and needles waiting for that. Should be April 5th or so.

If you want to find out more about paleo, check out the following links:

Art DeVany’s site

Robb Wolf’s site

So remember, when you hear someone call you a caveman, they’re really just jealous that you had it in you to cut your addiction to grains, sugar, and the television as well as the intestinal fortitude to really go and make something of yourself – to challenge yourself to constantly improving yourself, making yourself better, stronger, faster, harder – instead of living life on the edge… of your sofa.