Posts Tagged ‘Paleo’

Sumptuous Thai-style steak marinade

October 26, 2011

Want to know a simple trick to elevate your humble hunk of steak to stellar heights? Fish sauce, along with fresh garlic and ginger, is an easy way to add an umami depth of flavour to your next steak dish – whether a straightforward meal of steak and veggies or perhaps a beef salad. Once you try a simple marinade like this, you may never go back to plain, undressed steak again.

Some other marinades I’m keen to try soon are the coffee marinade from The Food Lovers Primal Palate and similarly, their chimichurri marinade. Fun times.

Fish sauce steak marinade

  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

Marinade for 3-6 hours in the fridge before cooking. Ensure meat is brought to room temperature before cooking. For an even better taste, consider using a cast iron grill or the great Aussie barbie.

* Enough for 4 medium size steaks

Marinated steak

Marinated steak with steamed and grilled veggies

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Paleo rock cakes

October 20, 2011

Who remembers rock cakes from their childhood? Anyone, anyone? My nana used to make them every time we went up to visit her on the Central Coast of NSW every month or so. They’re a little like scones, but with the texture and look of rough rocks. Only thing is, they don’t make for good pets unlike other rocks. I used to love them as a kid, but now I think back to it, the wheat flour used to leave a nasty aftertaste in my mouth which I’m not too keen on repeating these days, especially since I know wheat flour isn’t a requirement for straightforward and delicious baking adventures.

I used an Elana Amsterdam recipe, tweaking it a little and trying to get the shapes as rock-like as possible…I failed a little in that they weren’t jagged enough – they turned out more like rocks smoothed by the action water. I even made a special batch just for my Dad with some icky fake cherries in them just to cater to his desire to return to the era when his Mum would make these treats for him.

These make for a great treat to take out for a picnic or just for a snack on the go. You can also adapt them and include any ingredients you wish. Of course, that is if you can resist eating all them as soon as they come out of the oven!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup dried peaches, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup pecans or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg or 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon rice or maple syrup

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and soda
  2. Stir in dried fruit, seeds and nuts
  3. In a small bowl combine egg/s and syrup
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry
  5. Use your hands to form dough
  6. Shape dough into 3 x 3cm rough rock shapes  and about 2cm thick
  7. Cut dough into 16 squares
  8. Bake at 165C° on a lined baking tray for 10-15 minutes
  9. Serve
Rock cakes

Rock cakes

Sweet potato almond loaf

October 7, 2011

In these trying financial times, where bananas are priced like gold bars, the humble sweet potato is a more than worthy replacement in baking recipes that call for some of that sweet yellow mush. Of course, in many Asian countries, sweet potato is a common ingredient in desserts, less so in the West. Of course., Americans are in sway to their iconic pumpkin pie, so it’s no great leap to think of a sweet potato in dessert or cake terms.

When I saw this recipe for sweet potato hazelnut cake on Chris Kresser’s wonderful site, I just knew I wanted to make it the next thing on my baking list especially considering the great banana crisis of 2011 had left a bit of a hole in my cooking repertoire. One of the commenters on Kresser’s post had also branched out to make the cake with spices, in the tradition of Scandinavian spice biscuits, which I love but are full of sugar and other nasties in commercial preparations. The first time I made this cake, I used hazelnut meal and included the spices – unfortunately, the spice flavouring overpowered the hazelnut flavour, so now I leave out the spices but will return to them later to make biscuits.

My more recent attempts at this cake (or loaf as I have made it) were using almond meal which is cheaper than hazelnut meal and is a real staple in my pantry. It has turned out perfectly each time – the sweet potato has a beautiful richness to it, especially since it is baked whole with the skin on before preparing the cake mix. Just like with banana, the sweetness means you can get away with much less sweetener than in traditional cakes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond or hazelnut meal
  • 1-2  small to med sweet potatoes (these should be relatively thin so they bake quicker)
  • 2 med eggs
  • 2 tsp. sweetener (coconut sugar, rice syrup, maple syrup, etc. – this is optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 50g nuts and/or seeds, chopped roughly (pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds all work well)
  • 30g raisins
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 175C or 160C for a fan forced oven. When the oven is ready, put the sweet potatoes on a baking tray and put them in the oven where they should remain until the sweet potatoes are quite soft when tested with a fork – you’ll probably notice some syrup comes out of them – no need for alarm! They usually take about an hour. Turn the oven off until the loaf/cake mix is ready. Let the sweet potatoes cool on a wire rack or overnight and peel the skin off.

Pre-heat the oven to 175C or 160C fan forced oven. When the skin has been peeled off completely and any hard parts of flesh have been discarded, mash the sweet potato thoroughly to ensure it is as smooth as possible. If you prefer, you can place all the ingredients in the food processor. If not, mix the dry ingredients together and also the wet ingredients (in separate bowls). Then, combine the two bowls of ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour into a 9×5 inch loaf tin lined with baking paper, making sure to evenly distribute the mix and smooth the top. Place in the oven, baking for 40-45 minutes, or until a knife entered in the centre comes out clean.

When ready, remove from the oven and cool in the tin.

This loaf can be sliced with a sharp bread knife and either stored in the fridge or frozen – it’s best to slice and then freeze each slice flat on a tray otherwise the slices may freeze together and be annoying to separate. The loaf toasts really well, making for a great raisin toast replacement.

Sweet potato almond loaf

Sweet potato almond loaf

 

Sweet potato almond loaf

Sweet potato almond loaf

Father’s Day carrot cake extravaganza

September 5, 2011

I’ve had my eye on this Elana Amsterdam carrot cake recipe for quite a while now and Father’s Day was the perfect excuse to have a go at making it. I wasn’t really convinced the usual cake frosting could be done in a Paleo-friendly way, but I was happily proven wrong! It was delicious, in fact the cake was way better than any you could buy in a cafe. Yes, that may sound a little like I’ve got tickets on myself, but it really was that good. Only, not good enough for my twin brother to eat, but let’s not go there 😉 At least that means there was more for me and my Dad, since it was his day after all!

The only thing I need to sort out is how to avoid clumps in the icing which seemed to be the arrowroot powder clumping with the sweetener….I suspect it’s something to do with the temperature when the arrowroot paste gets mixed in with the rest of the icing mix.

As usual with Elana Amsterdam recipes, I swapped grapeseed oil for coconut oil and instead of agave (aka, hippie’s high fructose corn syrup) I used rice syrup and some maple syrup. The sweetness was perfect – the cake was moreish without being sickeningly sweet.

Carrot cake

Carrot cake

 

 

Eating out Paleo in Sydney: el Capo

September 3, 2011

No doubt, eating out Paleo can sometimes induce a violent episode of hair pulling. So, I’m always delighted when I find gems in Sydney that make it easier, and downright delicious!

el capo

el Capo

I’ve been to el Capo three times in the last couple of months so I definitely like the joint. The first time I went, I was on my own and much to my bemusement, George and Matt from Masterchef came in for lunch and sat right opposite me. Quelle horreur! I’m self conscious at the best of times, and unfortunately I had nowhere else to look except right at them. Thanks to my trusty iPhone, I managed to avoid being slapped with a restraining order owing to excessive unintentional staring.

Sydney is currently in the midst of a South and Central American cuisine obsession – see the runaway success of Porteño for starters, not to mention all the decent new Mexican places springing up all over the shop. el Capo doesn’t disappoint –  from the amazing murals on the wall to the cool, yet super friendly staff, and of course….the food. The dishes are all quite hearty – you probably won’t be leaving this place feeling peckish as most mains revolve around a key cut of meat or some quality fish. They’ve also got some great sides and snacks such as cabbage salad, which is deliciously fresh, and plaintain chips…those are on my list to try next time.

el Capo ....super bad!

el Capo ....super bad!

On this latest visit, I met up with Laura (@foodfoodandmore) to talk food, Paleo and UX. We both ordered the sweet pork neck from the new menu. It was definitely delicious, though the pork was a little dry. The sweet potato was cooked to perfection and balanced well with the guajillo sauce which had a mild spice and smokey flavour.  A definite winner. I should point out that I have no idea whether there is gluten in the sauce – so if you’re intolerant or celiac, best to ask. For the flexible Paleo eaters and the non-Paleos, try the cornbread on the side….it’s incredible!

Sweet pork neck

Sweet pork neck

el Capo
52 Waterloo St. Surry Hills NSW Aust. 2010
Ph 02 9699 2518

Paleo suppliers – Sydney and beyond

August 24, 2011

I often get asked where I get my Paleo supplies from. I’m Sydney based and have a few favourite haunts from which to get my bits and bobs. It would be great if I could regularly afford to shop somewhere like Thomas Dux, but that isn’t about to happen soon, so the places I go offer good bang for my buck, along with some intriguing people-watching as in the case of hippy hangout The Suveran in Bondi Junction – aka the crazy in the coconuts place.

I’ll be updating this list as I discover new gems but these are my preferred suppliers so far. Aside from this list, Asian supermarkets, quality butchers, seafood markets and growers markets are also great places to source Paleo goodies from too!

The Suveran
244 Oxford St Bondi Junction NSW
Phone: 02 9369 4040
Website: thesuv.org

I absolutely love this place. It’s so unique that going there feels like an adventure and I always wonder as I’m heading towards it “what tidbits of oddball information am I going to pick up today?”

They have two stores – one stocks organic produce and lots and lots of staple products such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut flour, nuts, dried fruits – and the other is more of a cafe-style hangout with a stash of supplements and raw chocolate to die for (though watch out for the carob lurking in the fridge right next to the chocolate, doh!) This is also where I get to indulge in coconut water and flesh from A REAL LIVE COCONUT!

I usually order a delicious lunch of slow cooked lamb shank with veggies and salad. And I never forget to grab the free coconut that you get with purchases of $10 or more. Get the gang to cut it open with a machete, grab a straw and slurp your way to heaven. When you’re done with the juice, get them to crack it again, in half this time, to scoop out the flesh.  I always laugh when I read the items on the menu, their wacky sense of humour is in evidence with dishes such as “lamb crap” – that would be a crepe.

The Suveran

The Suveran - delicious hippy food served with a side of coconut

The Suveran is very Paleo friendly and works well for people on other types of diets as it’s all gluten, dairy and sugar free. Everything tastes phenomenal – except the carob that is 🙂 They have a wide selection of health books – you can read their copies for free and then buy a new copy if you wish to. They’re a non-profit so the prices are very reasonable indeed and I really like their ethics. I’m planning to go to their cooking class on September 3rd so I can pick up some tips to improve my cooking, and nab their treasured chocolate recipe.

Dr Earth Healthfoods
311 King St Newtown NSW 02 9519 3495 and
444 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 02 9389 2160

I could easily drop $100 in here no problems. Though I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore, I rely on this place for a few of my favourite food and beauty items – coconut flakes are only for $6 for 500grams, organic hair care products, cheap goats milk soap and natural scented soaps (only $5 for 3 cakes). I really like the staff in the Newtown store, led by the wonderful Adam – they navigate their way around the over-stocked store like acrobats and always have a smile. I’m relaxing my strict Paleo-adherance at the moment to include things such as fermented soy and buckwheat, so this is where I get miso paste, tamari and 100% buckwheat noodles and bread. I make a mean miso soup with the paste, noodles, seaweed and Dulse flakes.

Sign up as a member to get 21% off on selected days each month (this is on most products except perishables and practitioner products).

Wholesome Natural Health Market
181 Broadway BROADWAY NSW

02 9211 1171

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

This store is quite similar in range to Dr Earth and they also have the same discount structure and the same discount days – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? A great range of fresh and packaged products and really knowledgeable staff make this store a real treasure.

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

iHerb
iherb.com

My addiction to US online store iHerb is so bad that I’ve got VIP status. Ouch! I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore because the US has much better range and incredibly cheap prices. I’m sorry Australian retailers, but I need to save money somewhere and this is how I do it. I order all sorts of goodies from iHerb including rose hip oil – only $5 instead of the $20+ you pay in Australia – lots of supplements, coconut flakes and coconut butter – which is soooooo tasty, cacao powder, stevia drops, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant. You get the drift, it’s awesome. At the moment, orders are taking about 3 weeks to arrive after ordering, but the discounts make it worth it. My hot tip is to keep your order under $US80 and under 4 pounds in weight (the checkout calculates this for you) so you get airmail shipping for only$6. I usually make sure my order is as close to $80 as possible to get the best value I can from each order.

If you want to try out iHerb, feel free to use my discount code for $5 off first time orders: ISO110

Be really careful not to order anything that’s illegal to import in to Australia… I did this once and got a slap on the wrist from quarantine…oops! But I was trying to buy something that was $7 compared to $70 in Australia and didn’t realise at the time I couldn’t import it. Here’s the ICON database to check on the legalities of importing things in to Australia and iHerb also has a handly list that appears on the shopping cart page to advise what items are often confiscated by customs. Do be careful, especially if you try to buy some expensive supplements like I did….turns out customs don’t like mushrooms…who knew?

The big supermarkets

For those on a budget, the main supermarkets are an important place to stock up on fresh produce, meat, oils etc. Here’s what I tend to get from each place.

Coles: macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, turkey mince, lamb mince, dukkah (spice mix), spices, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, coconut milk, coconut water – this is going to be a summer treat since it’s in a popper box you can freeze 🙂

Woolworths: Select tinned wild Alaskan salmon

Aldi: free range eggs, smoked sardines, bulk avocadoes, bulk zucchini, Italian proscuitto, macadamias

The Nut Roaster Company
79-81 Chapel St, ROSELANDS, NSW
02 9759 1206

Nut roasters are where I stock up on nuts and almond flour for those all important biscuits and muffins!  I also get my anchovies in bulk (in olive oil) and olives, though the last time they were way too salty, even for me.

Nuts

Obviously, I like nuts.

7 Star Supermarket
408 King Street, Newtown
Tel: 02 9565 5521
http://www.7starsupermarket.com.au/

I pick up Spring Hill free range bacon and their AMAZING aged beef mince from this store. This is the best beef mince you will ever taste, I’m not kidding.  They also stock all sorts of organic, gourmet products and really cool smoked fish.

Harris Farm Markets
Locations around Sydney

Great range of dried fruits, fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of unique products such as duck meat and duck fat, free range pork and sustainable tinned fish. And I love to pick up Ginger Nectar which is an incredibly potent ginger juice with honey. I really like my ginger, what can I say?

Flemington Markets

Submitted by Gazza, this has become a real Sydney institution for fresh produce and flowers. According to Gazza:

(Sat morning – get there early!) is a source of freshly grated coconut (done at the markets) and fresh (frozen) coconut milk. You can get kim chee too (Korean fermented veges, good source of probiotics).

I need to get there stat, just to try the grated coconut!

Alfalfa House
http://www.alfalfahouse.org/

Don’t be put off by the vegan-sounding name – Paleo peeps can get a lot of their staples from Alfalfa House whilst purchasing goods in a considerate manner. Alfalfa House is an ethical, not-for-profit (just like The Suveran) co-operative that shuns packaging for most goods. Perusing their website, the items available that are most relevant to Paleo would be fresh produce, spices, eggs and wide range of oils.

Meat, poultry and game suppliers

I’ve collated this list from around the traps but so far haven’t bought anything from them as I’m currently restricted by a limited budget.

Urban Food Market: really keen to try out the diced goat and some of the free range pork

Otway Pork: I’m going to be trying a pork belly from this supplier soon. After my first attempt at pork belly was an absolute disaster that almost sent me vegetarian, I’ve done my homework to find a quality product

Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats:  Submitted by Gazza (thanks!) – he sources 100% grass fed platinum beef from this store  with outlets all over the city, except the deep south for some reason

Stapleton’s Quality Meats: Just had to add a butcher located in southern Sydney (Sutherland and Gymea) to make up for Craig Cook’s being everywhere except the south!  I haven’t shopped here yet, but they seem to have a wide range of meats including venison, which I last ate in a French restaurant about 10 years ago – it’s been too long! They also have an online shopping and a delivery service.

Spring Hill Beef (and bacon): As mentioned above, the mince is the best I have ever tasted, and I’m really happy with their bacon product too.

If you have any great Sydney-based or online suppliers, let me know so I can add it to this list!

Finally, I can report a Paleo success story with my hypoglycemia!

July 10, 2011

I can’t tell you how long I have waited to write a health success story. It was especially frustrating after I started the Paleo diet/lifestyle in February this year and read many, many varied success stories from people who had been on the diet for only a short amount of time and managed to significantly improve their health in myriad ways. I was so disheartened, but knew it was how I wanted to eat since the science and evolutionary logic make sense.

Something I’ve dealt with for a long time, over ten years if not more, is hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. I’m not going to delve into the science of it but it basically involved unsteady blood sugar levels leading to a host of annoying and distressing symptoms such as feeling weak, dizzy, cranky, anxious, overeating, disturbed sleep and a hunger so bad I literally wanted to eat my arm one day. I’m not kidding on that last point either – auto-cannabilism was looking promising. I had to carry around small meals with me on some occasions which annoyed me no end. I was doing all the “right” things a hypoglycemic should – eating plenty of quality protein and slow-burning carbs – but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Angry Cat

This is what I felt like dealing with a blood sugar low.

Both my parents were diagnosed with hypoglycemia back in the late 1980s by an “alternative” (yep, totally ironic quotation marks) doctor here in Sydney by taking a specific test to see their response to glucose after fasting for a few hours. I was not interested in subjecting myself to such a test just to get a label that I already knew fit the bill. I tried things such as cinnamon extract and chromium to no avail.

After a particularly bad episode one day on my way home, I was so angry that I went back on to the awesome PaleoHacks site to re-read some hypoglycemia threads I had read of people that resolved their hypoglycemia by eating a high fat/moderate protein/low (LC) or very low carb (VLC) diet. It was after reading these stories that I decided I had nothing to lose by tweaking my diet’s macronutrient ratios and going from there. Well, I can honestly say that from the very first day, I felt different, really different. I had a lot more energy than what I’ve become used to, anxiety is minimal, I don’t feel like collapsing, I’m not afraid of being out of the house for hours without one of those small meals. Oh, and my moods are better too. I’m feeling really confident of taking on the world head-on.  I even had the commonly-reported “low carb euphoria” that many experience once they make this type of change. That was pretty damn cool!

Why high fat?

Fat, specifically saturated fat, has unfortunately been tainted as something to be feared and despised. A great, if heavy-going, book detailing the medical and historical context of this fat-phobia is Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories. The result of this fat phobia is that we are consuming much less fat than what we should be. Of course, we have only recently started to be educated in the media about “good fats” such as avocado, nuts and olive oil; and “bad fats” such as trans fats used in fast food and processed baked goods. But what about animal fat that hasn’t been processed? Vegetable oil and seed oils? Surely, vegetable oils are healthy, right? Not necessarily. Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple, lays it all out in simple, jargon-free English in identifying the Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio as the issue in consuming polyunsaturated fats.

Back to the hypoglycemia, this post from Mark’s Daily Apple explains that fat, not glucose, is the superior energy fuel for the human body. And that seems to be why I am doing so well on a high fat diet – my body can now go for hours and hours between meals which is unheard of for me. A lot of the commenters on the PaleoHacks site believe that anyone with a deranged metabolism (hypogylcemics, Type 2 diabetics, the obese) have damaged their metabolism so badly that they now cannot tolerate carbs much at all. That is definitely my experience where I would have a meal of balanced protein and vegetables (which are carbs don’t forget) and literally an hour later, feel my blood sugar drop. My body just reacted badly to the carbs and did not have enough fat.

Why did this happen?

I’m not entirely sure, but I suspect a genetic predisposition (since my parents are both hypoglycemic) and my diet when I was younger. I used to skip breakfast, or maybe eat some corn chips, eat a sandwich for lunch and have fried rice for dinner. Oh, and then there were the binges on wheat biscuits and sweets! Probably from not eating right in the first place. I gather that what this has done has messed up my insulin sensitivity to the point where I don’t tolerate carbs and can’t effectively use them for fuel. So, fat is now my fuel and I feel so much better for it.

What sort of fats am I eating?

For those who are curious or may even be thinking of trying this out, here is a list of the fats I’m eating:

– avocado
– olive oil
– coconut oil
– avocado oil
– macadamia oil
– ghee
– bacon fat (I collect this on a baking tray when I bake full bacon rashers and then use it on veggies at night)
– nuts (watch the omega ratio on these though, walnuts and macadamias are superior choices from what I have read)
– eggs
– fatty meats (eg. lamb)
– coconut chips
– coconut milk
– bacon with the fat
– chicken skins
– oily fish – mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies

Avocado and nuts

Avocado and nuts

Bacon

Bacon!

What else?

I’m really careful with fruits now as they are very high in fructose –  juice is even worse. Berries and green apples are said to be lower fructose so I am happy with that. I also avoid soft drinks and coffee as that sets me on a massive blood sugar rollercoaster which is horrible to experience. I now drink mostly swiss-water-decaf coffee with coconut milk, it’s SO damn good. I still eat “sweet” foods in the form of my chocolate slice and rosemary and hazelnut cookies – both of which use minimal sweetener but are sweet enough for my adapted tastebuds.

I have observed that if I eat high fat/mod protein and very minimal carbs at breakfast and lunch, I can allow some more carbs for the evening meal, though I still need to watch my intake. As long as I set my day up right with high fat intake, I’m good to go for the day!

I don’t know how long I will need to be on this regime for, possibly forever. But I can say, the benefits are worth it, there is no doubt in my mind.

Happy cat: Sooty

I'm a much happier kitty these days.

In defense of organ meats

July 3, 2011

As recently as a generation ago, organ and gland meats such as sheep’s brains, lambs fry (liver) or kidneys were somewhat of a standard fixture on home dining menus across Australia. But more recently, it has taken the influence of hipster chefs such as Ben Millgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, of Bodega and Porteño fame, to introduce organ and gland meats to a younger crowd of food lovers. Porteño in particular features dishes called “sweetbreads” which make use of different glands, such as thymus, in creating some genuinely unique culinary experiences. I should note here that I am a bit iffy in regards to eating veal, considering how it is produced, so I may not be lining up to try it when I get to Porteño sometime.

As  a gal raised (hur hur) on more ‘palatable’ cuts of meat – think lamb chops and rump steak – I had to get over my squeamishness at the prospect of consuming the liver of another creature. “Why would you do something so ridiculous?” you ask. Well, in my efforts to improve my health, I really needed to look at radical change to my diet. No B.S. “superfoods” such as goji berries were going to cut it. The standard western diet, in comparison to  that of the traditional Japanese diet in particular, is known to be somewhat monocultured in terms of the variety of foods eaten. Sure, we may oooh and aaah at the latest sourdough bread creation, however bread is still bread is still bread right? I don’t think we’re eating enough of a variety of foods (not to mention many are eating things that is just plain wrong for human consumption and are not even food) to maintain good health.

I think many people would be surprised at how deficient they are in absolutely essential nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and B12. Along with resolving gut health to allow for optimal nutrient absorption, a varied diet that includes a range of animal products is the key to getting these nutrient levels up and keeping them up. B12 in particular, is an essential nutrient implicated in depression and dementia, and the best version of B12 for human health can only be obtained from animal products such as liver, beef and, in smaller amounts, eggs. It’s not enough to pop a B12 pill – all nutrients are best obtained from food sources since the food contains important co-factors such as enzymes that allow the nutrient firstly to be absorbed, and secondly, to be effective once it has been absorbed. Good health after all, does not occur in a vacuum. Liver, or lamb’s fry is simply a nutritional powerhouse according to Mark Sisson of popular Primal blog Mark’s Daily Apple.

More about B12

Unfortunately, we live in a world where modern medicine places barely enough emphasis on nutrition as the cornerstone to good health. As such, most doctors will not acknowledge an obvious nutrient deficiency even when it stares them in the face. Instead,  there is too much reliance on the numbers from very basic blood tests which tend to show disease states rather than help to uncover the cause of that disease to connect the dots. With lab tests, the lab ranges are based on people that are sick, rather than healthy, so those lab ranges therefore are not representative of optimal levels of different nutrients.

B12 is a really interesting example of how misguided lab ranges, and the reliance on them, can be. In Australia and the UK, the “normal” range for B12 starts at 200 whereas in Japan – which has some of the lowest rates of Alzheimers in the developed world-  it begins at 500. This means that if you have a B12 level of 240, which can be found to correlate to dangerous symptoms indicating irreversible nerve damage, you will not be investigated for pernicious anemia (a common cause of B12 deficiency) and started on treatment if you live in a country where the range starts at 200. If you lived in Japan, however, you would likely be placed on an aggressive B12 treatment plan of regular injections. Where things get complicated for B12 testing, and the best example of how useless some blood tests can be for a doctor to order, is that if you have taken any B12 whatsoever in the past year, either as a shot, or in a multivitamin, the test will skew the result and show massively inflated levels of B12. What this means for people who need to be especially on the ball with their B12 status – vegetarians, vegans, those with family history of B12 deficiency, poor diet or digestive issues – need to use some more advanced testing options to assess their status and take action from there. Chris Kresser, of The Healthy Skeptic blog, has a great article covering all of this B12 information.

Where to from here?

Since I’m on a high-fat-consumption bender at the moment  (more on that later), I’m really tempted to try sheep’s brains as long as Mum cooks them to an old favourite recipe of Grandma’s that she guarantees me is delicious. Brains in mammals are known to have a high fat content which sounds pretty good to me! I will probably pass on the tripe (stomach lining) though, that might be taking things too far!

One thing I will always steer well clear of is foie gras, which is made in the most disgusting manner possible involving the force feeding of ducks to make their livers fattier, and therefore more tasty to the supposedly ‘refined’ tastebuds of senseless food elitists the world over. It’s good to know that some suppliers are now making humanely-produced foie gras, but of course some purist gastronomes don’t believe it is as tasty as the traditional foie gras. We can only live in hope.

Lamb’s Fry recipe

Here is a really tasty recipe for cooking lamb’s fry (liver) – calf liver can be substituted if lamb is not available.

Ingredients

1/2 kilo lamb’s fry, sliced in 2 1/2cm slices
1-2 brown onions, sliced in to wedges
1/2 red capscisum (red pepper) chopped into 1cm wide slices x 3cm high slices
1-2 tbsp oil
beef stock or stock from bone marrow (this is really tasty but needs to be prepped in advance)
2-3 tsp arrowroot powder (a Paleo-friendly thickener)
pinch of salt

Method

Soak liver for a short time (5-10 mins) in warm salted water and pat dry. Heat 1tbsp oil in a pan, add onions and cook until the onions are golden. Then add capsicum to saute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remainder of oil to the pan and add the sliced liver. Brown on both sides, return the onions and capsicum to the pan. Add the pinch of salt.

Add enough stock to cover and simmer until the liver is tender.

To finish, thicken with arrowroot powder and garnish with herbs.

Lamb's fry (liver) with onions, capsicum and gravy

Lamb's fry (liver) with onions, capsicum and gravy


A great primer and video on Paleo

February 28, 2011

I’ve come across a really detailed primer all about Paleo for those wanting more detailed information other than what is on the “About” page.

Fitbomb’s Paleo Primer

There’s also this short video from ABC USA where Robb Wolf is interviewed.

Last but not least, plenty of Paleo testimonials from CrossFit forum members. CrossFit is a fitness program that is associated with Paleo (however, some CrossFit adherents are on the Atkins diet rather than Paleo).

A day in the life…what does a typical day of Paleo look and taste like?

February 26, 2011

For anyone thinking “this Paleo thing looks kinda interesting…but I can’t get my head around the sort of things I’d be eating day to day”, I thought I’d do a quick post about what I’ve been eating so far to give you a good idea.

I should note up front that I’m not working at the moment, so I do have a bit more time on my hands than the average person. Once I start working, I will write another post with some detail about how to be more time efficient – that means “preparation, preparation, preparation” really. It’s still early days and I have made muffins, a date slice and beef jerky in bulk but I will need to kick things up  a notch once my time gets more restricted.

For breakfast, I’ve been eating two eggs with some sort of side of veggies or buckwheat bread with avocado, for about two or more years. I have never, ever done well eating cereal or bread for breakfast …where is the energy in that?! I do best with animal protein at every meal otherwise my blood sugar and energy plummet. And, yes, cereal is out on Paleo, though you can make a nut and seed mix to fake it I think.

I have read that buckwheat is also out on Paleo (though it’s not even a grain, it’s a rhubarb relative!) so I’ve been eating my eggs with zucchini and mushrooms…it does take a bit longer to make each morning though. Breakfast is currently taking about 30-40 mins cooking and eating each day, so that is going to have to change once I start working (boo hoo). The eggs and veggies are cooked in coconut oil (olive oil is not heat stable and forms all sorts of toxins if used in cooking). I put plenty of sea salt in the eggs. I also cook everything for breakfast in a stainless steel frypan because teflon is a nasty nasty endocrine disruptor (ie. it messes with the body’s natural hormone balance).

I serve the breakfast with Campos coffee made with a stainless steel stovetop cafietiere: I usually mix half of their swiss-water decaf and half of their organic blend….I use coconut milk as the milk (as everything else except almond or other nut milk is out). The sweetener is two drops of stevia.

Paleo brekky

Paleo brekky: 2 eggs, zucchini and mushrooms

For a mid-morning snack, I like to have some sort of nut butter or fruit. All fruits are allowed on Paleo, however ones with lower fructose are recommended such as berries.  Higher-fructose fruits include apples, bananas and watermelons. Another snack option is a bar made mostly from dates, such as a Larabar. These are so incredible, but kinda pricey unless I get them in bulk from iHerb in the US. I have experimented with homemade recipes to mixed success, I’ll post a recipe up once I get it perfect.

Paleo snacks

Paleo snacks

Lunch so far has meant a salad with a lot of mixed salad leaves (the darker the better), with fillings to choose from including olives, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, beetroot, red capsicum, avocado, nuts and seeds. My dressing of choice at the moment is straight macadamia oil drizzled over the salad. I hope to be branching out soon and making my own salad dressings.

Salad

Salad with mixed leaves, boiled egg, woodsmoked salmon, anchovies and olives

An afternoon snack is often a coffee or herbal tea with a Paleo muffin. I absolutely love Pukka teas, I used to drink one that tasted like chocolate when I lived in London. I found a store in Sydney that stocks Pukka, alas they didn’t have the one I loved so much.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea: paleo muffin with Pukka herbal tea

Next up is dinner – mostly dinner involves a nice piece of salmon baked in the oven with a side of veggies, or nut-crusted gemfish. Last night, I made this delicious Five-spice stirfry, recipe courtesy of Everyday Paleo.

Five-spice stirfry

Five-spice stirfry with minced beef, prawns and veggies