Sunday, September 27, 2009

Going primal in the backcountry

Another challenge I have faced in my life is continuing to eat primal while on expeditions into the backcountry.

You would not think so, but climbers/backpackers/etc are a group of people that are, in general, pretty set in their "conventional wisdom" ways of eating on expeditions. I could not count the amount of times I've heard something along the lines of "you need more carbs because you're exerting yourself at high altitudes which makes you need even more energy blah blah blah." I used to buy into that bullshit (I'd eat healthier at home but load up on the carbs during a climb) but I have noticed that since making the effort to bring primal snacks/meals with me on climbing trips, my hiking speed and endurance has
drastically improved.

Furthermore, if you think about it, mountain climbing is a very primal activity. Most of the hikes I've done here in Colorado are anywhere between 7 and 15 miles with anywhere from 3000' to 5500' of vertical gain (per day ... anything longer and I backpack in the night before and hike/climb the next day). What do you think "Grok" spent most of his day doing? Walking around looking for food. He probably did more mileage than this since there isn't much food to be had at the top of a 14,000 ft mountain, but the added exertion of the vertical gain makes up for the lack of mileage. Most mountains here (at least, the ones worth climbing to the top of) are an all-day -- or even multi-day -- affair.

So, being that it is a primal activity, it makes perfect sense to eat primally while doing it.
Some of my staples for climbing trips are:

Kind bars - I think they have brown rice syrup so not totally primal but they have lots of nuts in them  
Larabars - See my post about them :)
Nuts - I usually take a big bag of whatever nut mixture I feel like ... almonds and cashews are my favorite  
Fruit - apples are the standard pick because they can't get squished like peaches or blueberries. Great when accompanied by some healthy fat and protein like peanut or almond butter.

All of these are healthier and more primal than Power Bars (check out THAT ingredients list!) and the soy-ridden Clif Bars that the climbing community raves about ("they're like, organic, so they must be good for you, right?!")

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spicy almond-crusted sole with heirloom tomato salsa

As previously stated, one of the biggest challenges to being a primal college student is the price of healthy food. Luckily enough, one of the two grocery stores in Gunnison happens to be a City Market, so they regularly have meat products discounted on "manager's special" (which is basically stuff that they have to sell within a day or two). Sometimes it's crap (i.e. pre-seasoned with crap that is inevitably not primal), but sometimes I get lucky
I picked up a package of sole fillets relatively cheaply a couple days ago, and decided to try something new with them.
I made a "breading" that consisted of almond meal and spices: cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme, and breaded the little pieces of fish by dipping them into a beaten egg and then in the almond meal mixture. Just like making normal breaded stuff, only this "breading" is actually primal!

While baking the fish (for about 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit -- but I have a gas oven so it takes longer -- it might not take as much time in a regular oven), I made some homemade salsa to go with the fish.

To make the salsa, I used about 1/4 cup of chopped red onion, some chopped cilantro, and 4 heirloom tomatoes (they come in various sizes so you might need more or less depending on which varieties/colors you choose. I picked ones that were different colors). Pretty easy!

I will say that I got the tomatoes at the farmers' market so they were a little more expensive (I do think its important to support local farms), but if you're pressed for cash you could just use cheap regular tomatoes from the grocery store.

Almond meal is not super cheap, but this recipe does not use that much of it ... maybe about 1/4-1/3 cup.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Being Primal on Campus

I will really try to update this more often, but I've been kind of busy and without regular Internet access for the past couple weeks. And by busy, I mean I'm taking 17 credit hours this semester, including some classes that actually have some substance and require thinking (as opposed to, oh, say, any class in the Recreation department. Because it's so hard to write an essay about your favorite thing to do outside). Fortunately, I find most of my classes interesting; the only one that seems a bit dull is Geoscience Writing (GEOL-302), which is required for my major. Even my art class is ok.

So the point of this blog is about my experiences being primal as a college student. Obviously the main challenge that any primal student faces is the price of healthy, organic, grass-fed/cage-free food. Most of the time, I can't afford to eat completely organic, which raises the question of which is better to sacrifice: the organic produce or the grass-fed/cage free beef? While I think beef infused with hormones should be avoided at all costs, I don't like the idea of putting chemicals sprayed on fruits and vegetables in my body either.

The reason for avoiding meat with hormones in it is that I definitely believe that consuming these hormones causes imbalances in human hormones, which directly contributes to a lot of the prevalent health problems in our society today. This is not to say that grains don't play a huge part as well, but, while I'm no biochemist, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the hormones in animal products also do their share of damage.

The other big challenge that one might face, as a primal college student, is living in the dorms and eating the crap served by school cafeterias. While it is quite conceivable that one could get 3 chicken sandwiches and just throw away the buns, surviving on that and the wilted lettuce in the salad bar doesn't seem very thrilling.

College throws a lot of unhealthy temptations at us. Spending all day sitting around in class (unless you're fortunate enough to be a geology major), unhealthy cafeteria food, all-nighters requiring copious amounts of caffeine, pizza, and of course, keggers. Yes, you can theoretically stock up on healthier options to resort to when your floormates are ordering pizza, but there is a certain social stigma that one will inevitably encounter in this situation. And just try convincing a bunch of 18-20 year old women that Shape magazine is not the ultimate gospel of fitness and nutrition.

In my next entry I will discuss my experiences living primal as a college student -- now, prior to, and during my transition to this lifestyle.