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What could you eat forever?

bacon

 

Last night I was lazy and just made eggs and bacon for dinner. Like most meals, I really was physically excited to eat because I feel drawn to high-fat foods like a bird is drawn to the tree branch that overhangs your freshly washed car. Do I think its bad for me to crave high-fat foods? Absolutely not.

I recently started incorporating a genetic component into the seminars I give about Paleo nutrition and just general nutrition. Genes have a lot more influence over how our body processes food that we’d like to admit sometimes. I always wondered why some of my clients lost way more weight eating a low carb and high or moderate fat Paleo diet than others did, despite their claims that they were very strict in their 30 day challenge, etc. I always would respond, ‘Well just keep at it, and eat more fat and keep your carbs low, blah blah blah, typical Paleo response.’

The problem with that is that there is a group of people that DO need to limit their fat intake to no more than about 25% of their total calories. These people have a genetic mutation of their Apolipoprotein E (4/4) that causes their liver to clear cholesterol more rapidly from their blood (believe it or not that’s not what you want). In doing so, this causes their endogenous liver production of cholesterol to accelerate and they actually make more cholesterol particles of the small, dense kind if they consume too much fat. The risk in this is that those particles are the ones that tend to be oxidized the easiest, and incorporated into plaques in the artery walls, if the right set of inflammatory and metabolic dysfunctions exist, which usually is the case if you fall into the 99% of Americans that don’t eat a Paleo diet. These people also have a much harder time initially losing weight on a Paleo diet if they eat a little too much fat (more than 25% of your total caloric intake).

The ApoE 3/3 is the normal version of the gene and these people can eat a diet that has moderate fat/moderate carb/moderate protein (those could vary between 30-45% for any of those foods and as long as they are low glycemic in nature, these people tend to do okay with processing carbs and fats in a normal fashion in the absence of metabolic dysfunction). The ApoE 2/2 is the mutation of the gene in which people have a very difficult time processing carbohydrates and they tend to have very elevated triglycerides because of this, however, they are SUPER efficient at processing fat and can eat a lot of it. There are heterozygous versions of these genes (you can have one from one parent, and a different one from your other parent). I have the mutation for the 2/3 version of this gene.

So where am I going with this? This genotype for Apolipoprotein E seems to, at least in some people, influence what types of foods they gravitate toward.

I literally sit and think about butter and bacon. I’ve eaten so clean for such an extended period of time that my body has become finely tuned to signal what it needs and wants. And it usually signals something high in fat, because I process fat so easily. The downside to this is that because of that ‘2’ trait, I have to keep my carbs very tightly controlled, unless its post heavy squats or deadlifts. Extra carbohydrates (over 100-120g/day) will actually cause me to retain fluid and I can tell immediately when that has happened, usually.

Is it possible for our bodies and brains to influence our eating habits based on what our body can most efficiently handle? I think it might be. In a well-fed state, what kind of foods or food textures do you most crave? And naturally, we like sweet flavored foods or salty snacks, those would not be indicators of genetic influencing, but what about creamy foods, crunchy foods, lean steaks? Those might all be signals from your body telling you something…

Comment with what seemingly strange foods you find yourself craving! Oh, and by the way, the food I could eat forever is bacon, with just a touch of maple syrup 🙂

 

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Warm Fall or Winter Chili

This recipe can really go however you want it to. It was originally just a way to use up some thin steak cuts we got from the side of beef we bought earlier this year. Flat iron steaks are small and thin, and therefore, tricky to cook and hard to keep tender. I figured putting them in some type of soup or chili would be the best way, and it turned out pretty good.

Now, I have to put a disclaimer in here that I always put beans in chili. It falls into the category of my cheat foods that happen maybe 10% of the time. My personal feelings are that you are just not making chili if it doesn’t have beans, but feel free to leave them out if you are strict Paleo.

The base of soup is pretty simple, but again, it can be varied any number of ways.

IN a large stock pot, heat on medium:

1 Cup Beef or vegetable stock (I prefer no sodium added stock)

8-12 oz vegetable juice or V8 (get the pure vegetable juice, not the sugar-added stuff)

1-3 cans beans (kidney beans and black beans are my preference)

1 chopped white or yellow onion

Chili seasoning (either use a seasoning blend such as Williams, or combine chili powder, garlic salt, onion powder and pepper to suit your taste).

**substitute for beans: fall squash like zucchini, yellow or acorn; sweet potato; chopped tomato; etc

While the base is cooking, sear 1-1.5 lbs flat iron steak in a skillet, 1-2 minutes on each side (brown and crispy on the outside) and then cut into bite-size pieces and add to the base. In the same skillet, cook 3/4 – 1 lb bacon and chop up and add to the base. Cook 1-2 hours on low-med, or until onions are soft.

Paleo Hot Wings (OMG they’re good)!

After purchasing half a cow a month ago, we’ve been eating a lot of grass-fed beef. A LOT of beef. Not a bad thing. It just gets a little monotonous eventually. So in my search to continue to eat as clean as possible while also providing food that my family will not shun, I came across the following recipe from Fed and Fit. I’m always leery of how some of these Paleo recipes will turn out, but I have to say, these were probably some of the best wings I’ve ever had. There isn’t a ton of sauce to cover up the meat, but its also not a dry rub seasoning either. I intend to eat these weekly!

Paleo Buffalo Wings

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Baked chicken wings:

  1. 2 lbs chicken wings

  2. 1 t sea salt

  3. 1 t cracked black pepper

Paleo Buffalo Sauce:

  1. 3 T coconut oil

  2. 3 T rice vinegar (or other form of white vinegar)

  3. ½ t cayenne pepper

  4. ½ t hot paprika

  5. 1 t garlic powder [didn’t have this on hand, so I used garlic salt]

  6. 1 t onion powder

  7. 1 medium sized lemon juiced

  8. 1 t sea salt [I left this out because I used garlic salt instead of garlic powder]

Directions:

Baked chicken wings:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  • Wash the chicken wings and pat dry.

  • Sprinkle evenly with sea salt and cracked pepper.

  • Bake at 400 for 45 minutes (time will vary – start watching after 40 minutes and bake until they start to look brown).

Paleo Buffalo Sauce:

  • In a medium sized saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.

  • Add the cayenne, hot paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Stir until evenly combined.

  • Squeeze in the lemon and add the vinegar.

  • Take off heat and stir until evenly combined.

  • Set aside or pour into a sealable container for later use. [I put mine straight into a ziploc bag and coated the wings right away after coming out of the oven]

  • Store in the refrigerator. [I didn’t do this step]

  • Once the wings have cooled a little from the oven, put them in a gallon Ziploc bag and pour the buffalo sauce over. Seal the bag and shake for a good minute. This will evenly coat the wings. Pour into a bowl and serve!

Time: 1 hour

The great thing about this recipe is that the amount of time it takes for the wings to bake, gives you just enough time to cut up and bake/broil sweet potato fries or some other side!

Perfect Broiled Veggies

ImageI finally figured out an easy, quick and tasty way to cook veggies (and they look amazing too, if you’re impressing people!). Follow these steps:

Asparagus

Carrots (cut in half long-ways)

Onions, optional

Sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices, optional

Butter (4-5 TBSP)

Lemon juice or concentrate (2 TBSP, approx)

Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Turn your oven on Hi Broil.

2. Prepare the veggies and place on a greased baking sheet.

3. Melt the butter on low heat in a small saucepan and add lemon juice. Stir until combined.

4. Brush the butter mixture onto the veggies until coated evenly. Top with salt and pepper.

5. Broil for 20-22 minutes, or until carrots/sweet potatoes are crunchy/tender, but not soft or soggy.

Bread? Maybe…

If you are a die-hard Paleo purist, you probably shouldn’t read this post. I’m going to say some things that go against the whole strict Paleo thing. However, if you are someone that is considering Paleo or at the very least a gluten-free diet, read on. This might help you with your transition to this type of nutritional lifestyle and in my opinion, could help you be more successful at sticking with it.

I bought a bread machine.

Yes, that’s right. But, not for the reasons you may be thinking. After the holidays are now over, I am transitioning back to a more Paleo-ish lifestyle. And notice I didn’t say full on Paleo. Why? Well, its all well and good to be an annoyingly faithful strict Paleo follower, but there are some drawbacks. Namely, convenience, boring food and damn, sometimes I just want to eat bread or cookies, okay?

The last couple of months my lifting volume has picked up and my CrossFit-ish workouts have decreased depending on how close to a meet I am getting. On a heavy day and the day right after, I am starving all the time. I feel like I just can’t get enough calories in me, regardless of where they come from. And sometimes, I just don’t have time. This is the obstacle that our modern lifestyle imposes upon us. In exchange for conveniences like technology, we give up the simplistic nature we used to have. So, I can’t always be picky about where my food comes from if my main goal is just to replenish after a day of 10×10 back squats at 75% 1RM (felt like I would never regain feeling in my hamstrings). And, for all the low calorie fanatics and people that promote the whole low-moderate carb all the time, here’s the thing: you can’t do it all the time. It needs to be relative to your training volume and physical activity levels. Low carb for me is about 100g/day on a normal training day and about 200g/day on a really heavy day. That carb cycling needs to be worked into training to replenish the glycogen that’s been drained over the previous 2-3 days.

So back to the bread thing (sorry for the diversion). I have done some heavy thinking and I have come to the realization that I am just not willing to give up fried eggs on toast (if you’ve never used a piece of toast to soak up egg yolk, you are missing out on magic). But I really do have reactions to gluten that I’d rather not have to deal with if I don’t have to. The answer? Get a bread machine and make your own fresh gluten-free bread. That’s why I said Paleo-ish. Its really not Paleo since the bread itself is rather starchy and made from things like white rice flour, sourghum and other grain-ish substances, just without the problem-causing gluten proteins.

I’ll explain my reasoning here and hope that this will help some of you overcome some of the tougher decisions you’re facing with going Paleo or not. The years of dietitian and nutritional counseling training in me tells me that someone is not going to change their lifestyle if they are not ready or if the change falls outside the scope of what they are willing to do or capable of doing right now. Some people can quit huge things cold turkey and never look back while others need to make 20 small changes gradually in order to effect a major lifestyle change. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Personally, I care more about getting the calories into myself on those heavy days than I care about whether I’m pleasing the Paleo fairies. I already drink raw dairy, so what’s the occasional slice or two of gluten free bread going to do? (and by occasional I probably mean daily)

My point is, find what you’re willing to change now and work on the other stuff over time. If you can’t go 100% Paleo right away, that’s okay. Start with things like Gluten-free foods and cutting out vegetable oils. Then you can work on cooking more Paleo-friendly foods and increasing your intake of things like nuts, seeds and berries, along with fresh veggies and fruit. While going strict Paleo for at least 2-3 weeks initially is the best way to get started, I know how challenging it can be to remove entire food groups from your diet at once without proper planning.

Here is the fruit of my bread machine labors:

This bread loaf was from a mix of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free bread from Hy-Vee. I followed the instructions exactly on the box and the bread machine’s user manual and it turned out perfect. It also tasted better than regular store bought wheat bread (in my opinion). The texture was great, very fluffy and still had enough protein to feel like regular breads. The drawback is obviously that the loaves are smaller than regular bread loaves, but I guess there are sacrifices in every turn we take. You will also have to toast it longer than regular bread if you are planning to make toast with it. It does need to be stored in the refrigerator, also.

This loaf below was from a mix from the Gluten Free Pantry (bought a case of mixes on Amazon).

I actually prefer the Gluten Free Pantry mix as the crumb and texture are a little more consistent and more like regular bread.

What are some things that some of you have made substitutions for to transition into Paleo-ish eating?

A New Twist on Bacon and Eggs

I love eggs and I love bacon. I could really eat them all day, every day. But sometimes they do get a little boring the same old way every time. And sometimes I miss eating sandwiches or wraps. Not because I just miss the bread, but because its something you can pick up in your hands and eat like a sandwich. Here’s a solution to both problems:

The scrambled-egg-wrap-BLT

You will need:

at least 3-4 eggs

2 slices of bacon

1-2 slices of tomato

A handful of spinach leaves

oil or butter to coat your frying pan

1. Combine your eggs in a cup or measuring cup and whisk them until they are uniform. Pour into the frying pan, on medium heat.

2. In another frying pan, start cooking your bacon strips.

3. Heat until they are a solid, round omelet and cooked thoroughly on one side, 2-4 minutes (you will need to tip the pan a few times to get all the extra runny uncooked eggs out to the side to cook, too)

4. Flip the eggs over and cook on the top side for a minute, too.

5. Remove the omelet from the pan and put on a plate.

6. Top with spinach leaves, tomato slices and cooked bacon slices. Fold the egg up into a wrap or taco shape!

Back from Non-Paleo Land…

I originally started writing this post a few months ago, and got really side-tracked with grad school starting, the gym getting swamped and just in general, way too many things on my plate at once. So I picked it back up and here we go:

“So some of you that I’ve talked with in the gym lately know that I took a very determined and purposeful jaunt off the beaten Paleo path back into non-Paleo land for almost 2 months. I binged and ate anything and everything I wanted, all the things that I normally don’t allow myself. I loved every minute of it. My ass and thighs gained a pound or two, not because I wasn’t eating Paleo, but because I was carbing it up and indulging. I am perfectly okay with that.

One thing I need to state first though, is that I purposefully did this and I purposefully decided that I was not going to feel bad or guilty about it for even a second. That is what made it possible and enjoyable. Why have a huge cheat only to feel bad about it? The purpose of a nutritional indiscretion is that you are letting yourself have something that you normally don’t for the sake of your sanity.

Now for the point of this post: get over yourself. Don’t take this personally, I say it to all of us collectively, including myself. If you walk around talking about Paleo-this and Paleo-that and worrying about whether potatoes are truly Paleo and that the black beans in the dip your co-worker made will send your soul to eternal non-primal purgatory, you need to get a life. Eating a Paleo diet is great, and for many of us, medically necessary. I fully endorse it and in no way do I want you to think that I am at all anti-Paleo.

But, during my absence from eating Paleo and blogging about it for my members and clients, I took some time to step back and look objectively at the Paleo community, and by association, the CrossFit community. One of the things that drove me mad was the amount of self-righteous bullshit I saw every day from the followers of this lifestyle: the people on my FB friends list that literally post every single thing they eat all day with pictures and then attack the non-Paleo eaters and make them feel bad about eating non-grassfed beef. Don’t be that guy. Then there are the chicks who go around giving seminars about why everyone needs to be Paleo and there is absolutely no other choice. If you’re not Paleo, you’re going to contract cancer tomorrow and die within the week.

You know what I learned? Eat some damn grains and sugar once in a while. Its not ‘good’ for you, but its good for you, if you catch my drift. It will remind you why you eat clean in the first place and it will let the rest of us know that you are actually human, instead of some repetitious dogma regurgitating robot that has a degree in oh, I don’t know English, Business, Sports medicine, Engineering, etc etc, but nothing nutritionally related at all, yet you are still an expert.

If you go to the grocery store down the street from me at just the right time, you might be able to witness me buying a box of cookies or a jar of (*gasp*) ketchup that’s full of sugar and definitely not organic. Guess what? I have a couple friends I’d like you to meet. Their names are ‘Who cares?’ and ‘I don’t give a shit.’

Before this turns into too much of a rant, I want to leave my readers with some encouragement. Eating a Paleo diet and following a primal lifestyle in a decidedly non-primal world is tough. REALLY tough. You have to be motivated. And maybe a little obsessive about things at times in order to stay on track. I figure if I eat the good stuff 85-90% of the time and the rest is just the good stuff that I don’t eat too often, I’m still doing better than 99.9% of America. Don’t let a day of cheat foods derail your efforts. Where a lot of us go wrong is we have a bad day and say ‘Well I f’d that up, so I might as well keeping f-ing it up and get fat again.’ In reality, just start again the next day. Write down everything you eat and enter it into an online diet tracker or a smart phone app if you need to. Share it with someone. Email it to me for all I care. Hold yourself accountable and let yourself have a reward every once in a while.”

In closing, here’s a great super easy recipe that you can make for a sweet cap to your dinner and it takes very little time and effort. It also uses the constantly in-your-face fall staple: apples. You can buy them by the bag at any local grocery store and many of us wonder…what can I do with bags of apples? Here you go:

Easy Baked Cinnamon Apples (and Cream, if you’re not a huge dairy-phobe)

Apples (however many you want)

Cinnamon (again, however much you want)

Butter, probably 2-3 Tbsp

optional: heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Core and slice the apples to the thickness you want (quarters, eighths)

3. Melt the butter in a glass baking dish

4. Coat each apple slice in the melted butter in the dish and sprinkle cinnamon over the slices.

5. Bake about 20 minutes.

6. Add heavy cream ( just a few tablespoons)

*optional, you can peel the apples, but I like to leave the peels on, they’re a little tart and they’re a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as some other nutrients that you won’t get in just the meat of the apple

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