Sunday, 11 October 2009

My Primal Benefits

A commenter asked me what I found to be the greatest benefits as a woman doing Primal eating. I started to post a long answer in the comments and then I decided I'd also like to do a post. Not all of these benefits are exclusive to females, of course.

Benefit 1: I keep my curves. The first time I consciously tried to lose weight I went on a no fat whatsoever diet. Yes, I was young and stupid. Moving on. I got skinny, but I also had NO breasts/ass. Not fun. For some reason, eating Primal, I stay lean but I keep my curves=happy Cavewoman :)

Benefit 2: Fabulous hair/nails/skin. Oh yes, I have a nice sleek coat, nails I can open soda cans with, and a healthy glow. I never wear make up. Now granted, that's partly because I don't like make up. But I like having the option instead of feeling like I need to have something on my face to be presentable.

Benefit 3: I get to eat yummy food. No, I really don't miss Snickers, baguettes, and fries. I get to eat cheese, bacon, omelettes, chicken skin, ribs, burgers, etc. I have REAL cream in my coffee. I have dark chocolate for dessert, or strawberries, or a green tea protein smoothie (raw milk, matcha powder, stevia, whey protein, dash of vanilla, ice.)

Benefit 4: I don't stress about food. I was definitely one of those Type A calorie counting wonders. I can still tell you how many calories are in most food items. Now I just eat what is nourishing, eat until I am full, and leave it at that. Sure, I do have the urge to stress eat sometimes (see post below) but the moments are easily controlled because my blood sugar is always nice and level. As many Primal followers have noted, they can fast effortlessly, and I find that I can easily skip dinner or lunch some days no problem.

Benefit 5: Less severe PMS/cramps. Sorry boys, this may be TMI for you. My moods are much more even, I don't break out, and my cramps are much better. Not gone, mind you, but better.

I'm not perfect. I drink a fair bit, and I sometimes make less than optimal choices. I would encourage all of us not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I am very happy just getting right MOST of the time, and I would wager that most other would be too.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Maintaining Primalness When Stressed

Of course as soon as I decide to re up my blog, work goes batshit :) But whatevs, I shall plow through. It's amazing how eating Primal has changed my ability to cope with stress. I really believe food has a huge effect on mood.

I start my day with protein, I have protein at lunch, and more protein at dinner. With fat and non starchy carbs. And I don't ever have those lows anymore before mealtimes. You know, those shakey headachey (and for me, downright bitchy) moments where you desperately need to get something in you or something bad will happen?

Nope. I work placidly until I feel belly hunger. Mostly. I do occasionally get stress cravings, but I've found that tea helps quite nicely with those. Now, for those of you who are rolling your eyes and thinking tea would never do it for you, let me just say, I was in your camp. Really, I was.

Now, I'm not getting paid to endorse this particular brand, but I'm addicted to Good Earth Cocoa Spice Chai and Decaf Vanilla Chai. Honestly, sometimes I just brew it and sniff it, because it smells SO yummy. But I find that the warm liquid, and doing something with my mouth, psychologically soothes me.

And having a crutch like that that won't otherwise fuck up my Primal eating goes a long way in times when work is going like gangbusters or something else stressful comes up in my life. My other crutch is taking a walk, but I know that's not always an option in other parts of the (freezing cold) country :) Tea works everywhere :)

How do you cope with stress while maintaining a Primal lifestyle? Do you have crutches? Mabe crutch isn't the right word, maybe it's "trick."

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sunlight makes me happy

So, off the topic of food, but generally Primal, let's talk a little about the Sun. When I lived in the Northeast, or Midwest, I spent at least three months out of the year miserable and cranky. The cold got to me, but it was really the lack of sunlight.

Since I have moved to California, I've been a much happier person, and I would venture to say, it's the sunlight. I know there are a lot of people who don't buy the whole SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) thing. And frankly, I was one of them. I figured it was more the cold than the lack of sun.

But SF is not all that warm. It's basically coldish cold or warmish cold the vast majority of the time. And yet, I'm so perky my friends back East ask me if I'm on uppers on a regular basis. The thing is, SF may be chilly, but it's sunny.

Even today--perfectly blue skies, but I couldn't go out without a sweater. And yet, here I am, writing about my good mood :) It's not even that I get to go out in the sun very much (again, office drone) but even just walking to work in the sun and seeing it shining outside my window puts me in a happy frame of mind.

It's amazing to me how much my mood affects my appetite, even eating Primal. Now, it's more the kind of Primal food I eat rather than whether I eat Primal or not. But I notice when it's nice and bright and sunny and I'm in a good mood, I do tend to eat less.

And when it's darker and grayer, even if it's the same air temp? I'm definitely more snacky. I think it's just a basic human instinct: what's more primal that perking up in the sun? And as a side note, what could be more necessary to our ancestors when they were looking to get some vitamin D?

So am I crazy? Am I just making up the effects of sunlight? Or do you all experience it too?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Anecdotal observations

For a patient population of 1. I don't know about you, but I love experimenting with my diet and seeing how changes pan out. Of course, I do it in a totally unscientific way, altering multiple things at a time so that it's hard for me to isolate what single thing was the factor in a particular change, but whatever. I don't have the patience for the whole one thing at a time bit.

So, for example, I take fish oil, D3, and K2 on a daily basis and have for about a month. Why? I am D deficient (office drone) I do sometimes eat non free range meat (hello Omega 6s) and I also don't eat foie gras regularly (oh, how I would love to, but my budget will not tolerate it) and I've noticed a major change in my skin. I have mild acne (usually a few small pimples here and there, annoying but not a big deal) and lately, my skin has been totally calm. Love that. Now, is it the fish oil, the D, or the K? Or some combination thereof?

Or when I drink diet soda, my stomach gets extremely sensitive to anything else. I've been diet soda free for a week (YAY me) but I've also cut out all other artificial sweeteners (used to be a Splenda addict, now use liquid stevia on occasion, but far, far less frequently than I used the evil yellow packet) so I can't tell if the carbonation or the sweeteners (or again, some combination) that set my stomach off.

I just find it fun to play around with how my body reacts...

Friday, 2 October 2009

She returns!

Wow, I seriously doubt anyone is even checking here anymore :). But I was googling something today and a link to my poor little defunct blog popped up and it felt oddly like running into a friend you haven't seen in a long time. Slightly awkward, but nice too.
Besides, I couldn't let that slightly self pitying last post be my final statement. Not my style :)

I've fully settled into San Francisco, and I love the Bay area more than ever. I have gotten back into dairy. I know, not Paleo. But I am of Northern European ancestry, and you know what? I like my dairy. It tastes goooooood. You know what tastes really good? Raw milk. Oh my goodness. The beauty of California and legally permitted marketing of unpasteurized dairy in all its glorious forms to the public.

Oh, by the way, raw cream, raw butter, and raw cheese--also awesome. Almost as good as the look I get when I tell other people I eat raw milk products. You'd think I'd told them I lick it off the sidewalk. Honestly, it's hilarious. Never mind that everyone else in the office has caught the last version of whatever rhinovirus is floating around and I'm totally unstuffed. No, I'm the crazy one :)

Actually, I am the crazy one. But I'm ok with that. And gosh darn it, I'm back to blogging, even if I'm just blogging about what I eat so that I can keep track. And if anyone DOES start reading, hi :)

So let's talk chinese veggies. I grew up in Toronto, which means that even though I'm the whitest white girl you'll ever see, Asian food of all stripes is comfort food to me. Soon I'll discuss how fabulous Japanese flavours are for Paleo/Primal/whatever the hell you want to call my diet now. For now, let me just tell you about chinese broccoli, or gai lan. Gai lan is a delicious leafy green veggie that come in long stalks with long narrow leaves and stems about a centimeter (~.5 inch for you Americans who don't feel like doing the metric thing) in diameter. You will often see small yellow flowers midway up the stalk as well.

Gai lan is delicious steamed or stirfried. The one thing to remember is to cook the stems first, and the leaves at the end. When cooked, gai lan does taste a lot like broccoli, but is harder to overcook and doesn't get the same slightly sulfurous flavour that broccoli can get. I like to steam it in the microwave (3 minutes on medium heat for the stems, throw the leaves in at the last minute) and toss it with roasted garlic and butter. Or, stirfry it with coconut oil and shallots and throw in some hot pepper flakes at the last minute.

In any case, the gai lan is ready when the stalks are bright green (they start out a much duller grayish green) and the leaves are wilted. Gai lan can be found in Asian grocery store and in the Asian veggie section of some larger supermarkets. Oh, and if anyone out there has other gai lan recipes, please post them in the comments!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Primal and Dating?

Not that I'm anywhere near being ready to date again yet, but I freely admit that with a break up comes some old fears. My former SO was really, really supportive of the way I chose to eat. But not every former SO has been that way.

I've been called controlling, anal, unable to relax. After all, why can't I just chill and have a couple slices of pizza? Why do I have to insist on ordering a salad with chicken? Why can't I just not record what I've eaten for a few days? Don't I realize I look disorderd? etc. etc.

To be clear: if I was really lusting for a slice of pizza, I would have it and move on. I'm talking about the situations where I really don't want to eat something I see as lower quality or as otherwise unappealing.

And while I have no problem being open with my friends, in a more intimate context I feel very sensitive about being judged. I'm not sure why. I know the feeling is irrational, and that someone who likes me will like me for all of me. But I can't help it.

When I cook for people I date, I NEVER weigh my food in front of them. I don't discuss my eating philosophies or talk about how I use my CRON-O-Meter. I joke with my friends that I am saving the "crazy" for later.

There seems to be sliding scale of socially acceptable eating habits. For example, being a vegetarian is fine, but vegans are nuts. Weight Watchers is a-Ok, but raw foodists are total weirdos. Hell, everyone is on South Beach, but breathe a word of Atkins and you're a bacon snarfing freak.

And rightly or wrongly, I feel like CR and Primal eating are both solidly in the unacceptable category. I would really love to find a way to screen for guys who were into Primal eating. Sadly, in my personal experience, most guys in good shape either 1) don't care what the hell they eat because they've never had to, or 2) are solidly in a nutritional camp I don't identify with, like the school of carrying tupperware protein everywhere for feedings every three hours. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

Hmmm. All of the sudden I appreciate the companionship of my cat so much more. He never cares what I eat so long as I feed him too.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Low and Slow

The credit for the cooking technique I am going to discuss today goes entirely to Richard at Free the Animal. I love his blog, and I highly recommend checking it out if you're at all interested in Primal eating. He and I have gotten into it a bit over CR, but he is a very reasonable, rational, and generous blogger.

I recently discovered a cut of beef I ADORE. Now, I generally adore red meat. My grandparents were cattle farmers, so it's in the blood. And I credit their, and my mother's, good health in part to the grassfed beef they ate frequently throughout their lives. And I have never even come close to being anemic ;)

As a side note, I should mention I have never gone through a vegetarian phase. Dyed in the wool carnivore here, folks. To each their own.

Anyways, back to the beef. So I was flipping through one of my many, many (seriously, I have a problem) cookbooks and it mentioned butcher's cut steak. Some of you may know it as hanger steak. This is a piece of meat that hangs down near the diaphragm of the cow. It's not too lean or too fatty, and it makes a delicious steak. Not only that, because it's generally a less familiar cut, it's usually cheap (and y'all know by now how much I like that :) ).

Which brings me to the title of the post. The best way to cook this steak, IMHO, is Richard's way. Which means roast the steak in a 250 degree oven until internal doneness is reached (depends on personal taste). A digital remote thermometer (one that has a lead cord so you can stick it in the meat but the temp monitor sits outside the oven) is a HUGE help here. Get one. They are the best.

Once internal doneness is reached, take the steak out. Don't worry that it doesn't have that yummy sear/crust you love so much. I'm getting to that. Now, turn on the broiler, rub the steak down with butter, and broil both sides until it looks the way it should.

Serve with some nice spinach pureed with olive oil. Or grilled asparagus. Or steamed broccoli with parm on top. Or anything else that looks appealing. I promise you this will be the most melt in your mouth steak you've had in ages, and you did it all by yourself.