Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hearty Sauteed "Salad"

This is the second recipe I created for the Winter Greens blog event hosted by Stuff I Make My Husband. I like this one a little better, as it is definitely a heartier meal, though maybe not as adventurous as my Middle Eastern Collard Wraps.

3 strips of bacon
4 mushrooms
1 bunch of collard greens
1/4c chopped onion
1/3c artichoke hearts

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside. Leave drippings in the pan.
While the bacon is cooking, chop up the onion and mushrooms. After bacon is done cooking, add the onion to the pan with the bacon drippings. Saute for 2 minutes, then add mushrooms. Saute for about 5 more minutes.
After mushrooms and onions are done cooking, transfer to a bowl. There should still be some bacon fat left in the pan.
Tear up collard leaves a little and add to the pan, along with the artichoke hearts (I added mine whole, but you could chop them up if you wanted). Saute for about 5-6 minutes or until leaves are wilted.
While the greens are cooking, poach two eggs. The easiest way to do this is to heat some water with about 2 tbsp of added vinegar in a SMALL saucepan until boiling, then crack the eggs in the water, and turn the heat down to low and cook 1-2 minutes (depending on if you like your yolks hard or runny).
Crumble the bacon into small pieces. Add this, along with the onions and mushrooms, to the collard greens and mix thoroughly.
Spoon the greens/bacon/artichoke/onion/mushroom onto plates and top with poached eggs.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Middle Eastern Collard Wraps

This is the first of two recipes that I created for the Winter Greens Food Blogging Event hosted by Stuff I Make My Husband. Once I make and sample both recipes, I'll decide which one I like better and that will be the one I submit.

These turned out pretty good, though I'd add a little more red pepper next time to give them a bit more of a kick. Though they are wraps, they are definitely something best eaten on a plate with a knife and fork; the "wrap" aspect is for 1) presentation and 2) adding some color and texture variation to the dish.
1lb ground beef (or lamb, if you want to be authentically Middle Eastern, but I'm a college kid on a budget)
6-8 collard green leaves
1/2c chopped onion
2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground red pepper*
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp dried apricots
2 tbsp chopped almonds
1.5-2c cooked cauliflower rice

*this was how much red pepper I used; if you like your food spicy I'd add more.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef. Add coriander, garam masala, salt, red pepper, and onion. Cook until beef is done.
Meanwhile, prepare cauliflower rice. If you haven't made this before, it's relatively simple, and a recipe for it can be found in Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint Cookbook. It's pretty much just really really finely chopped cauliflower cooked such that it has the consistency of rice. When cooking the cauliflower, add a bit of salt, coriander, and garam masala.
After the cauliflower has softened a bit, add it to the meat and onion mixture. Add raisins, almonds, and apricots, and mix thoroughly. Turn the burner down to low to keep this stuff warm while you prepare the wraps.
In a large pot, heat several cups of water. Blanch each collard leaf in the water for about 4 minutes, or just enough that it softens up a bit. Cut the more rigid part of the stem off.

Dry the leaves, and then lay one out on a plate. Place a generous serving of the meat/cauliflower mixture into each leaf, and then fold the sides in so you have a neat little wrap.
It's easiest to fold the leaves more "hot-dog" style than "hamburger" style.
This recipe makes about 6-8 servings, depending on how big your collard leaves are and how full you make them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Summery Salad on a Wintery Day

It's friggin cold here. Especially at night. To momentarily forget about just how cold it is right now, I whipped up a summery salad.
1 wild-caught tuna filet
A couple handfuls of baby greens
1 ring of red onion, sliced
1/4 yellow pepper, chopped
1 small avocado
1/4c pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp chopped cashews
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add tuna filet, sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Cook ~4-5 minutes on each side)
2. Prepare salad by washing greens and arranging on a plate, then top with bell pepper, onion, pomegranate, cashew.
3. Slice avocado into chunks and add that to the salad.
4. Drizzle salad with EVOO and apple cider vinegar
5. Chill tuna for ~5 min in freezer; serve on top of salad.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Baking

I love to bake. So, being paleo/low-carb, the main challenge that this creates is that I need someone else to eat all of the stuff I bake. This works ok when you live with other people, but not so well when you live by yourself. So this year, I decided to make two gingerbread houses: one for my mom and one for my aunt and her family.
Now, making a standard gingerbread house is pretty straightforward. But I always make things more complicated than they have to be, so I came up with two ideas: a log cabin gingerbread house for my mom, and a split-level gingerbread house for my aunt.
I'll be honest, I felt kind of dirty just buying vegetable shortening, white flour, sugar, and molasses to make the gingerbread, even though I knew I wasn't going to eat any.

The basic recipe I used, stolen shamelessly from my mom, was:
5c white flour
1c sugar
1c molasses
1c shortening
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg (I used crappy King Soopers eggs that I got for free from a coupon)
1 tbsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tbsp vinegar

I made the dough, then went on to determining the dimensions of the pieces I needed. All in all, I used two batches of dough.

I melted jolly ranchers for windows (supposedly butterscotch candies work the best, but I couldn't find any), and used icing consisting of 4c powdered sugar (I felt dirty buying that too), 3 egg whites, and 1/2 tsp cream of tarter to glue the pieces together.

To make "logs" for the gingerbread log cabin, the easiest thing to do is to evenly roll out a stick of dough to whatever length you want the side to be. Bake it like you normally would (~6-7 minutes at 350F). The logs will flatten a little but don't worry about it, since you're going to use other pieces to hold them together anyway.

The results:

To make your log-cabin house so that you can put a normal roof on it, simply bake 6-8 logs (3-4 for each side) like you normally would, and IMMEDIATELY after removing them from the oven, use a spatula to slide the set for each side right up next to each other, then use a sharp knife to cut them diagonally so they will fit a roof.

Using spare pieces of gingerbread, glue the logs for each side together (if your sides are the same lengths, it doesn't matter, but mine were 9.5" and 8", so I needed to keep track) using icing and spare pieces of gingerbread (the discarded pieces from the tall roof sides work well... I used these but needed a few more so I just baked some extra).

The final product:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pistachio Crusted Chicken

Ingredients:6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup pistachios (can be salted or unsalted)
1 egg
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground thyme

1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
2. Shell the pistachios and remove skins.
*if skins are difficult to remove, blanch the nuts by boiling them for 30-60 seconds in water.
3. Finely chop nuts using a food processor or food chopper.
4. In a small bowl, beat egg. Add coriander, thyme, and onion powder to egg. Mix well.
5. Dip a chicken thigh in egg mixture, thoroughly coating it, then dip it in the ground pistachios. Place the chicken in a 9x12 greased baking pan, then do this for all the remaining chicken thighs.
6. If you have egg mixture or pistachios left over, pour them on top of the chicken thighs in the baking pan.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Serves 2

*for whatever reason, the photo uploader is being retarded as hell and rotating the image of the cooked chicken. I'm not going to deal with it; you can still see what it looks like.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thailand Pictures 2

Koh Phangan sunset

Koh Tao Sunset

Ang Thong Marine National Park

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bacon-Wrapped Pears

These are a nice little appetizer for any occasion, and incredibly simple to make.
1 ripe pear
2 tsp cinnamon
8 pieces of thin-sliced bacon

Slice pear into eighths. Sprinkle cinnamon on each side, and then wrap each pear wedge in a piece of bacon, such that you can tuck the "tail" in.
I would not recommend using thick-sliced bacon for this because of how large the slices would be compared to the pear wedges.
Fry over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken and Chorizo Stuffed Peppers

It's a good thing that I am willing to experiment with food and try new things, because I've found a new type of meat that I love: chorizo. I was pretty apprehensive about it because people say it's really spicy, but it has just the right amount of kick (I'm guessing those people just have a really low tolerance for spicy food or something).

Chicken and Chorizo Stuffed Peppers

8 oz ground chorizo
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 bell peppers (any color)
1 small zucchini
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 of a ripe tomato
1/2 of a medium onion
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter or oil
*optional: 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1. Cook chicken breasts in oil in a skillet over medium heat until tender (~10 minutes on each side depending on how hot your stove is and how big the chicken breasts are).
2. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
3. While waiting for the chicken to cool, finely chop onion and tomato. Grate zucchini (or just finely chop it if you don't have a grater; I like to grate mine as I began using it in recipes as a substitute for rice).
4. Halve bell peppers and remove stems and seeds
5. Tear chicken into small pieces.
6. In a large mixing bowl, add chorizo, chicken, onion, tomato, zucchini, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and salt/pepper.
7. Place bell peppers in a large baking dish. *NOTE: if you're using a metal baking pan, you might want to grease it; I use a stoneware pan so I didn't need to.
8. Evenly distribute chicken/chorizo mixture among peppers.
9. Bake at 350F/175C for 45-50 minutes.
10. If desired, remove from oven after 45 minutes, top with shredded cheese, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes.

Serves 3-4

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Denver Broncos" Salad

I realize it's been a while since I posted, and that I kept saying how I was going to update more and stuff... BUT there was a legitimate reason: I had no camera cord with which to transfer pictures of awesome places and awesome food to my computer to post on here.

Traditionally, fall is associated with spending Sunday afternoons watching football and eating junk food. However, just because you care about your health doesn't mean you can't still have fun with watching the game -- just find paleo-friendly substitutes that are just as festive and fun as chips and pretzel sticks.
Enter the "Denver Broncos Salad:"

For one salad:
2 cups of mixed greens in bite size pieces
1 golden beet, boiled, skinned, and sliced
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tbsp feta cheese
1 ring of red onion
4-6 slices of cucumber
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
Olive oil and apple cider vinegar for dressing

Friday, September 17, 2010

Colorful Crunch Salad with Smoky Tomato Dressing

For the salad:

5 leaves each of red and green leaf lettuce
1/4 cup chopped jicama
3 strips cooked bacon
1/2 of a yellow pepper, roasted*
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 thin slice of red onion

Tear lettuce. Crumble bacon and slice pepper into small pieces. Add toppings to salad.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp powdered onion
1/4 tsp hickory smoke flavor
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Using a whisk, mix all ingredients except EVOO. Slowly blend in EVOO while stirring dressing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Primal Challenge 2010

As a regular reader of MarksDailyApple, I've decided to participate in the 30-day primal challenge beginning today. Due to my personal lifestyle (and the fact that fall is my FAVORITE time of year to go climbing), I've tweaked the primal blueprint to suit my own needs.
  • I'm at a healthy weight and bodyfat% currently, so I'm not looking to loose weight, and therefore my carb counts might be a bit higher than many who undertake this challenge for purposes including weightloss. On most days, I probably shoot for around 100g carbs (sometimes it's way less than that; other time's it's more than that).
  • As a climber/mountaineer, I will eat more carbs on days when I'm climbing peaks, especially if it's a 14er or something like that. Above 12,000' or so, fat (whether it be dietary or adipose tissue) is inefficient as a fuel due to the fact that it requires considerably more oxygen per gram burned than carbohydrate. Depending on the length of the climb, I'll consume anywhere from 100g to 300g of carbs on climbing days.
  • If I had to guess, I'd say I follow the 80/20 rule most of the time.
  • I do take supplements/vitamins, including magnesium, fish oil, and a multivitamin.
  • I'm not lactose intolerant so I do eat dairy and don't consider it part of my "20%"
So, I guess that about sums up the basics of my lifestyle.
For this Primal Challenge, my main fitness-related goal is to build muscle. I did a pretty good job of sticking to a weightlifting routine this past spring, but then summer came around and it was all about the climbing, which does wonders for endurance and fat loss but not much for maintaining lean mass.
As per the challenges associated with each of the 10 laws of the Primal Blueprint, these are the goals that I will be undertaking this month:
1. Eat lots of Plants and Animals
Fortunately, the Gunnison Farmers' Market runs through the first weekend of October, making it a perfect food source for this. A week ago, I picked up some cage-free eggs, zucchini, beets, and cabbage. However, as the Market is only on Saturdays, this will require me to plan what I'll eat the following week in advance. Obviously, I will buy some things that I can't get at the market at the local supermarket and/or health food store, but I will make an effort to get as much of my food as I can from the Farmers' Market.
2. Avoid Poisonous Things
Starting in August, I challenged myself to go 30 days without caffeine. I've been mostly compliant with that but digressed from it on a couple occasions. I'll continue this challenge through October 6. Furthermore, I will limit alcohol consumption to 1 day per week.
3. Move Frequently at a Slow Pace
There's definitely no shortage of places to go hiking in the Gunnison Valley/western Colorado, so my challenge with this goal will to go hiking/running at places that I haven't been before.
4. Lift Heavy Things
I will make a conscious effort to go to the gym
at least twice per week and get a good heavy lifting workout in. I'm not really sure whether or not I'll be playing rugby this fall, so if I don't play, I'll go to the gym at least four times per week (two days upper body, two days lower body). 5. Sprint Once in a While
I don't sprint nearly enough, and will try to do it more regularly. I sometimes do what I call "block sprints," where I essentially run around the block that my house is on, sprinting the last 100m or so.
6. Get Adequate Sleep
This is a challenge for everyone, but it seems like college students get hit really hard with it. Being able to get adequate sleep is all about time management. I aim to improve that in the month to come.
7. Play
Luckily for me, "playing" is synonymous with most things that I do to maintain my level of fitness.
8. Get Adequate Sunlight
Living at 7700' puts me at an advantage here, but with my course schedule this semester, getting outside for an extended period of time
every day can be a challenge. However, there are creative ways to get around that... I can do my homework outside on the lawn. For anyone who might read this who is a working professional cooped up in a cubicle all day, consider taking your lunch break outside (if that's feasible). 9. Avoid Stupid Mistakes
10. Challenge Yourself Intellectually
As a senior in college, I'd say I get enough intellectual challenges thrown at me on a daily basis. One unique challenge that I'll be undertaking for this school year (and thus, for this upcoming month) will be working as a math tutor. Math generally comes fairly easy to me, so assuming the role of explaining it to those who don't just automatically "get it" will be a fun and interesting challenge.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asparagus Chicken Salad with Coconut Citrus Dressing

This salad is crisp, refreshing, and utilizes delicious summer vegetables.

Romaine or red/green leaf lettuce
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 oz chopped macadamia nuts (or macadamia nut halves
12-15 asparagus spears
1 bell pepper (any color)
3 slices red onion
8 oz pineapple
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 C coconut milk
1 tsp orange extract
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Wash veggies thoroughly
2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then grill about 10 minutes on each side over medium heat.
3. Cut pepper into chunks or strips
4. Toss asparagus and pepper in coconut oil until lightly coated
5. Grill asparagus and pepper for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Be vigilant to make sure it doesn't burn, just char it a little.
6. Arrange ingredients for salad in a way that makes them look pretty on a plate.
7. Mix together ingredients for dressing and drizzle over salad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

TR: Mt. Belford and Mt. Oxford

Peak: Mount Belford and Mount Oxford
Location: Sawatch Range, Colorado, USA
Elevation: 14,197 (Belford), 14,153 (Oxford)
Route: Standard Route from Missouri Gulch (Class 2)
Distance/Elevation Gain: 11 miles RT/5800'

About that whole "not posting" thing... yeah, I've just been busy finishing up field school and climbing 14ers.

Last week, I met up with Laura, a member of the MDA forums for a primal excursion into the mountains of Colorado. Our intended destination was the Blanca massif in the southern Sangre de Cristo mountains, but due to the aftermath of a helicopter crash that occurred during a rescue operation last week, the Colorado National Guard had closed the area and we had to come up with a backup plan.

So, after several hours of driving, we ended up in the Sawatch range at the Missouri Gulch trailhead near Vicksburg, Colorado, just west of Clear Creek Reservoir. Our plan was to backpack in a little ways, camp near treeline, and then spend two days climbing the three 14ers in the region. We started backpacking up the trail at about 17:00 and camped near the ruins of an old cabin just below treeline at 11,200'. Upon reaching the campsite, we set up the tent, filtered some water, and hung the bear bag before going to sleep around 22:00. We awoke around 05:00 the following day and started up the trail to Mt. Belford and Oxford at about 05:45. It was plenty light out by that time so we didn't need headlamps. It was VERY windy.

Laura and her dog (Chewie) at our camp site

I reached the summit at about 08:00 and tried my best to stay out of the wind while I waited for Laura and the dog. At about 08:45, I started heading over to the saddle to Mt. Oxford while Laura tried to make a phone call from the summit (cell service is pretty sketchy there). I reached the summit of Mt. Oxford at 09:45 and enjoyed a hardboiled egg as a summit treat.
We returned to camp by mid-afternoon and attempted to take a nap (though the wind was really noisy and made this difficult). Around 19:00 or so, we started cooking our paleolithic camp dinner: ground beef, a sweet potato, red pepper, and avocado.

We cooked the ground beef first and then used the fat that remained in the pan to cook the sweet potato. This was much more efficient than trying to bring any sizeable quantity of healthy cooking oil would have been, and definitely a practice to consider employing to save space and weight in one's pack when doing an overnight trip. Furthermore, if you plan to do an extensive amount of actually
cooking food, I'd recommend getting a white-gas stove, such as the MSR Whisperlite. Stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket or the Jetboil are easier to use, but they are far less fuel-efficient. A medium-sized (I think 12 oz or so) bottle of white gas fuel will easily last several days.

Night 2, cooking ground beef for dinner on my MSR Whisperlite

For snacks while hiking, we took Larabars, Kind bars, beef jerky, and bags of homemade trail mix (nuts and fruit dried without adding sugar or chemicals).

One of the important things to consider is that if you want to eat totally primal while backpacking, the food you bring is inevitably going to weigh more and take up more space in your pack. For a one, two, or even three-night trip, this shouldn't really be an issue, but it has the potential to present more challenges for longer trips.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post about this conundrum...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I ate bread and the world did not end

Also, I didn't gain any weight, binge out on crappy food, or go on a rampage and kill small woodland critters. I didn't turn into a carb-zombie or immediately lose all my energy.
As I stated a few posts back, I'm currently taking a Field Geology course, which involves spending most of the day hiking around and mapping the geology of a given area. This course is part of my senior capstone as a geology major, and thus far, the weather has been good and the class has been relatively enjoyable. The past two weeks have been spent mapping Upper Paleozoic and Mesozoic rocks along the Elk Range Thrust near Brush Creek, an area to the northeast of Mt. Crested Butte.

Because of all the hiking we've been doing (this area has much more topographic relief than Beaver Creek -- where we looked at Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks the first week), I have been bringing sandwiches with lunch. And I don't worry about the carbs in the bread, because after lunch, we get up and keep on hiking, and they get used to fuel me for the remainder of the day. Many of the arguments against bread rest on the fact that it is simply "empty calories" and doesn't have the vitamins/minerals/etc that other carbohydrate sources such as fruits and veggies do. While this is true, I'm not under the illusion that bread is anything other than a convenient way to eat meat/cheese/avocado/mustard. I'm eating it because it's convenient, not because of it's nutritional value. And, in certain settings, convenience is something that should be considered.

Sandwiches are convenient for this type of activity -- they don't take up a lot of space in my pack (a tupperware container with salad would take up a lot of space, and realistically, it wouldn't fill me up with all the hiking we've been doing), and I can eat them quickly. If I was out hiking on my own just for the hell of it, or even doing some sort of field geology project on my own, I might consider bringing something a little more complicated and grain-free, but that isn't the case. This is a class, and the goals of the group as a whole outweigh the preferences of the individual.

However, enough with that... back to the original topic: grains and their place in the human diet.

As a future scientist, I have a good understanding of the concepts of evolution and how they relate to human physiology. Saying "I believe that we evolved as hunter-gatherers" is, to me, the equivalent of saying "I believe in evolution." There's nothing to believe -- either you look at the evidence and accept it or you're an ignorant ultra-religious nutjob (I'm not going to sugar-coat that one). And if you stubbornly argue that an animal-based diet didn't play a role in human evolution, then you're just plain ignorant.

For the vast majority of human history (and by human, I mean to include everything since the evolutionary split humans and chimpanzees, which occurred sometime between 4.6 and 6.2 million years ago), grains have NOT been a part of our diet. We ate meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. However, at this point, I don't see this as a reason to avoid them entirely. It's easy to see how grains -- especially refined ones -- can, in large quantities, lead to a plethora of health problems, but eating a slice of two of bread once in a while is not the same as eating a bagel with cream cheese and jelly for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch and a bowl of pasta/rice with dinner on a daily basis.

I don't think that grains should be the basis of the human diet. The fact that they were not a part of our evolution, however, does not mean they're inherently bad. Equating the fact that they weren't part of our evolution with the idea that they are the root of all evil is a bit on the absurd side.

In my opinion, a considerable amount of the stigma associated with grains among the primal and paleo communities comes from the recent hype surrounding the concept of eating "whole grains." As a result of this hype, numerous food companies have introduced the "whole grain" line of products that are still loaded with refined corn products and artificial sweeteners, making them just as unhealthy as their "pre-whole grain" products. It is probably true to say that most people don't read ingredients on boxes and will buy something solely based on some sort of label touting its "healthy" qualities, despite how healthy it actually is. I read the ingredients on everything I buy (if there are ingredients to be read... hard to do that on a stalk of broccoli though).

I read the recent post regarding lectins on Mark's Daily Apple. Frankly, that in and of itself didn't really present any reason for me to completely eliminate grains.
Some people with certain medical conditions, food sensitivities, and allergies would probably be better off avoiding them. I'm not one of those people. So, what about this post? Well, first of all, demonizing grains by equating them with carbs in and of itself doesn't work, especially in the proper context. This goes back to the difference between taking a sandwich on a hike because it's convenient and gorging oneself on pasta and bagels and ice cream while sitting in front of the TV all day.

The conclusion that I have drawn is that while grains should not be consumed in large quantities or on a regular basis, they are not inherently toxic when consumed occasionally and in small amounts. I'm not going to go back to eating them every day, but if I'm not going to worry about taking a sandwich on an all-day hike or climb.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gluten-Free/Grain-Free Chocolate Raspberry Muffins


1/2c coconut flour
1/4c almond meal
5 eggs
1/4c whole milk
1/4c full-fat sour cream
5oz. organic raspberries
2 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
1/2 tsp stevia
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Butter or coconut oil to grease muffin pan

Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, and mix in milk, stevia, salt, sour cream, butter. Wash raspberries, and carefully stir them into the mixture.
In a seperate bowl, mix together coconut flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Slowly fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Evenly divide mixture into a greased muffin tin.
Bake for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fajita Marinade

I'll buy a beer for the first person to tell me exactly why a marinade mix needs corn syrup solids. Actually, I know the answer ... it's all part of the great American eCORNomy. Along with salad dressing, marinades are another thing that I've been experimenting with making ... because all the stuff they sell in the store has some kind of corn or soy product in it.

I used this marinade for fajita meat (which can be eaten in traditional fajitas or as a fajita salad if you do the grain-free thing), but it could be used on anything to add a bit of Mexican flavor to it. Did I mention that I love Mexican food?
Juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper.

Mix cilantro and lime juice, then add the spices. Use as a marinade for just about anything. My personal favorite is bison fajitas.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TR: Little bears on Little Bear

Oh yeah ... first 14er of 2010! Little Bear Peak ... arguably one of the toughest 14ers in Colorado (in fact, I'd say it ties with Capitol Peak for the title of "Most Difficult Colorado 14er").

Peak: Little Bear Peak
Location: Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado, USA
Elevation: 14,037'
Route: Hourglass Gully
Distance/Elevation Gain: 13 miles RT/6200'

I wrote a trip report and posted it here.

One question that came up among the group was whether Little Bear was harder than Capitol, which most regard as the most difficult 14er in Colorado because of the extremely exposed knife-edge ridge that must be crossed on the standard route. After a bit of thought, I concluded that they are really about equal -- Capitol is more mentally challenging due to the exposure on the knife-edge (and most of the rest of the route to the summit after crossing that), but Little Bear was more physically challenging.

Though the actual mileage for each peak is pretty similar, the Capitol Creek Trail is a pleasant, scenic hike, and the grade is not too strenuous. The approach up the Lake Como road is nothing short of someone's version of hell. It's extremely hot, there isn't much vegetation (for shade), the road is really rocky, and the grade is pretty steep. Hiking up the first part of that road, I was almost worried that I wouldn't have enough energy for the summit attempt the following day.

On the other hand, the climb up the hourglass (keep in mind, it was full of snow so rockfall was not a very significant danger) was extremely fun. I'd say it probably averages around 40 degrees, and it doesn't get any steeper than 45, which is, for me, steep enough to keep things exciting but not so steep that I get nervous. Capitol was a fun climb, but the exposure on the ridge did scare me a bit.

I will say this though: I would definitely be willing to climb Capitol again, and if there's one 14er that I really would not want to climb again, it would be Little Bear. Don't get me wrong, it was a fun climb, and the views from the summit were spectacular, but I'm relieved to be able to check that one off the list.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Field Geology: it doesn't get much more primal than this

So, GIS is pretty much done with ... I have one last project to finish up by this Friday and then I'm done. The skills were easy enough, and I can see how GIS software is good to know how to use (another thing to add to my resume), but holy hell, sitting in front of a computer for hours on end really sucks. Sure, I waste enough time surfing the internet and stuff at home, but I get up periodically and do other things without even thinking about it.
Now that GIS is done with, Field Geology has started. And this is about the closest thing to a primal college class that exists. We spend about 6-7 hours out in the field every day, walking around and mapping the geology of a region (the class is 4 weeks long and we are going to go to a different place every week). Essentially, this translates to about 6-7 hours of very casual-paced walking every day (stopping periodically, of course, to mark a feature on the map or jot down some observations).
When it comes to the 10 guidelines of the Primal Blueprint, I'd say that this class follows at least three of them (moving around a lot at a slow pace, getting sunlight, and using one's mind).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Salad with Baked Cod & Zesty Cilantro Dressing

Thoroughly disgusted by the prevalent use of canola oil and soybean oil in store-bought salad dressings, I decided I wanted to learn how to make my own salad dressings with healthy ingredients. Vinaigrettes are easy and straightforward enough to make, but what about when you want something a little creamier? Greek yogurt and coconut milk are two good options, though I suppose sour cream could work too.

To be safe (as in, avoid making something totally repulsive), I started with a simple combination, but in the future I may be more adventurous.

For ~2 servings of dressing (two salads' worth), I used:

1/3c Greek yogurt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Juice of 1.5 limes
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp hot red pepper flakes

And I drizzled it on top this salad:

2-3 cups romaine, torn into small pieces
3/4 of an avocado, chopped
2 thin slices purple onion
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped into small pieces
1 3-4oz baked cod filet, flaked
1/4 of a red bell pepper, roasted and sliced

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fajita Salad

If Mexican cuisine (and by cuisine, I mean food, beer, and tequila) didn't exist, I would probably be about 5 pounds lighter. Oh well, it does, and it's my biggest vice. When out to dinner with friends/family, I have no problem avoiding bread, rice, pasta, etc. But Mexican food is next to impossible to resist. I'll just admit it straight up: I can't say no to a plate of sizzling fajitas and a Dos Equis. Enchiladas, chili rellenos, burritos, chips and salsa, and margaritas (if they're real margaritas, not made with some HFCS-laden mix) have similar effects. Of course, this statement assumes all of the aforementioned temptations are made with real ingredients (i.e. not from Taco Bell).

So, tonight, I decided to try and make one of my beloved Mexican dishes a little bit healthier. And this is what I came up with:

I started by sauteeing about 1/2 of a green pepper (cut into thin strips) and about 2 slices worth of onion in butter over medium heat, seasoning them with chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper.

While this was cooking, I made some guacamole...
1 mashed avocado
1/8 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 small tomato, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Juice of 1/4 lime
A dollop of sour cream (yes, a dollop is an official form of quantitative measurement)

After the onions and peppers were done, I set them aside, and began cutting a ~10oz steak into strips. I remembered I had bacon fat in the refrigerator, so I used this to cook the steak in. I used the same seasoning combination as I did on the onions/peppers, but added some chopped cilantro in as well.

Served with romaine, sour cream, and the guacamole that I had just made ... downright gourmet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spiced Chicken

I think it was really a combination of trying to be creative with stuff I had in the house and just not caring, but I came up with this:

I chopped up 3 chicken tenderloins, seasoned them with cloves, paprika, salt, pepper, and cumin, and pan fried them in bacon grease. Turned out pretty decent.
Tasted great with the avocado.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Health Politics: "Food, Inc"

So I finally got around to watching Food, Inc last night. I had so many reactions to that movie, I'm just going to list them and then discuss them in detail one at a time.

1. I really don't want to eat soy ever again
2. I want to learn to hunt and possibly fish
3. Whenever I have my own house, I want to have a garden
4. The food industry and the major players in it are all part of a vicious cycle that, if left unchecked and allowed to spiral out of control, will ultimately result in the collapse of the system.

****Beyond this point I will discuss specific parts of the film, so if you haven't seen it yet I'd advise you to go watch it before reading further****

1. The film discusses the role of soy production in the food industry, and how one company, Monsanto, controls virtually all of it because they patented genetically-modified seeds. Soy is incredibly unhealthy, but a quick survey of several random food items (both in my kitchen and on the internet) revealed that just like High-Fructose Corn Syrup, it's found its way into virtually everything.

2. Contrary to what the PETArds would have you believe, hunting and fishing are some of the most sustainable activities one can engage in. If you kill a deer, you get quite a bit of meat from it, which reduces the amount of industrially-produced meat you buy at the grocery store, and you get the peace of mind from knowing the animal had a good life in the wild and died rather humanely compared to the way animals die at some of the slaughterhouses. While it's obviously important to get the carcass tested for chronic wasting disease, I'd guess that wild game has a lot less bacteria than industrially-produced meat.

3. When I was a child, our family had a greenhouse next to our house in which we grew tomatoes. We also had a rhubarb patch. Though I don't remember particularly liking the cherry tomatoes (they were messy and kind of big for a kid to fit in her mouth in one bite), in retrospect, it was pretty cool. Another, more recent experience that comes to mind is the summer of 2008, in which the apricot tree near my mom's office was just bursting with fruit. I went to visit her on her lunch break one day, and we picked bags and bags of apricots (both from the tree and ones that had already fallen to the ground). Wherever I end up living after college, I definitely want to grow some of my own fruits and/or veggies.

4. Michael Pollan pretty much hit the nail on the head with his statement about the role of agricultural subsidies in the food production system. I'm no biochemist, but I understand enough about food to know that the level of processing required to produce the majority of the corn and soy products (soybean oil, hydrolyzed soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, etc) is not something that any kind of food should be undergoing. Unfortunately, these products are in a lot of food, and, in my opinion, a major contributor to a lot of mainstream health ailments.
So, the government subsidizes unhealthy food --> the people eat said food --> the people get sick --> the people have ridiculous health care costs --> the people turn to the government for health care reform because they think that will fix things.
And the above statement wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to all the doctors who make up imaginary diseases, the "symptoms" of which are simply a consequence of eating industrially-produced food. After all, if a doctor tells you to "eat more vegetables and less starches/processed food" and you go and do that and get better, you get to avoid future doctor visits. But if he/she tells you that you have some kind of "health condition," it keeps you coming back, and keeps money in his/her pocket.
But, as the movie said, the government definitely does not have your best interests in mind.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bacon-wrapped chicken and green beans

I love chicken. Well, I love eating just about any animal. Like the other night, I had six baked chicken legs for dinner after a heavy lifting session. That means that in just one day, I was single-handedly responsible for the death of at least three chickens. (Seven if you count the four eggs I had for lunch).
Anyway, one of the minor problems with chicken is that unless you eat the skin with it, it doesn't really have very much fat. I had a big bag of frozen chicken tenderloins in the freezer (not even remotely close to sustainably raised, but we've been over this before: I'm a college kid -- and I had a coupon for it). So, how to make skinless (thus, low-fat), industrially-produced chicken fatty and tasty? Wrap it in bacon, of course.

Bacon-wrapped chicken cooking in a frying pan

I cooked about a cup of frozen green beans to go with it, and voila, a tasty, healthy dinner.
I used 1 package of bacon and 9 pieces of chicken (some of the chicken pieces were bigger so they needed more than 1 strip of bacon)

The final product

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crustless Spinach and Feta Quiche

Right. Haven't been updating. I really do intend to make this an actual blog, and I don't really have any real excuses this time. I've been wasting a lot of time playing Fallout 3, pretending that I understand sequences and series (Calc II), and watching TV shows on my computer (I know, I know, tres lame). Speaking of that though... what the hell is up with this year's season of like... everything?? Either I'm getting older and wiser, or TV is getting dumber.

Ok, I can't really think of much else to say right now, so I'll leave you with this:

Crustless Spinach and Feta Quiche
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup spinach, cooked (I used frozen spinach)
Half a medium onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F (175 C).
Chop onion into small pieces. Sautee over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter.
With remaining butter, grease a pie pan (standard size pie pan, about 8-9 inches in diameter) or a dish with a similar volume. Defrost spinach (or steam it until wilty if you got fresh). Add cooked onions to spinach and spread mixture evenly around pan. Add feta cheese on top.
Beat eggs in a small mixing bowl. Add milk and salt/pepper and mix thoroughly. SLOWLY pour egg mixture into pie pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rugby is paleo, but you are not

The good:
I have tickets to see Iron Maiden. This is going to be THE most epic concert of 2010.

The bad:
Western's women's rugby season is NOT going well. Basically, people on the team are flaky, Chris and Greg (our club advisors) are idiots, and our coach -- though friendly and well-intended -- wastes a LOT of time. There is absolutely no need whatsoever to spend more than 5 minutes (10 at most) stretching before any kind of workout, and yet we consistently spend at least 20 minutes doing so at the beginning of every practice. Add in another 10 minutes for stretching at the end (which, by the way, is totally unnecessary and a complete waste of time), and we've wasted half an hour doing something that should take 5 minutes. As if that weren't enough, he wastes time doing stupid drills that have us do things that we are realistically NEVER going to incorporate into our actual rugby playing and do nothing whatsoever to improve our fitness or rugby skills. Finally, he holds these "team meetings" once a week ... I never go because I figured they were a waste of time, but I went to one last week and it confirmed that suspicion. Let's just say that when it comes to dragging out the end of things, coach gives Lord of the Rings a run for its money. Of all the things I don't want to waste time doing, spending an hour to discuss 10-15 minutes worth of information is pretty close to the top.

The paleo:

I don't like wasting time doing pointless shit, including listening to our coach say the same thing over and over.
I suggested doing some crossfit type workouts to help improve our fitness, and he said that they (burpees, box jumps, etc) were really good for rugby -- so why haven't we done them?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Primal Manicotti

As a kid, manicotti was one of my favorite dishes. I wanted to try making a primal version of it, because I could care less about the pasta but still love the gooey cheese and tomato sauce.
I used cabbage leaves in place of pasta shells ... it tasted great but they were kind of hard to cut which made it kind of messy. So while it's not something I would readily serve to children under 12, it's still a great-tasting healthy alternative to traditional manicotti.

To make 2 servings, you will need:
4-6 cabbage leaves (depending on their size)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tbsp parmesean cheese, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
Dried basil and oregano (to taste)
Marinara/red sauce (I'm lazy so I just bought ready-made sauce)

1. Remove cabbage leaves from cabbage head, trying to keep them as intact as possible. This can be a little tricky and take a little patience. Don't worry if they tear in one or two places. Boil cabbage leaves in water for about 4-5 minutes. This should soften them up a bit.

2. Mix ricotta, 1/2c mozzarella, parmesean cheeses along with garlic and herbs.

3. Place cabbage leaves in baking dish. Scoop about 1/2c of cheese/herb mixture into center of leaf, and then fold the sides up and over the top, making a roll shape. Use a toothpick in the center to hold the cabbage leaves shut.

4. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, pour marinara sauce over rolls and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake for an additional 10 minutes to melt cheese on top.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rugby in the snow

There are few things in life quite like a rugby tournament in the middle of February. Playing a rugby game in the snow is one thing, but spending all day out in it is quite another. Of course, being that it was a rugby tournament, people were keeping warm in a true rugby fashion: with copious amounts of alcohol.
Since we were playing ten people on a side, I got to try my hand at a couple new positions -- prop and hooker. Not my most glorious moment on the field but it was fun. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre is by no means a serious tournament ... I mean, we're playing with a foot of snow on the ground, missing tackles because we're slipping all over the place on it, and getting progressively more tipsy throughout the day -- how serious
could it be?
I will say though, that nothing unleashes my "inner Viking warrior" quite like playing rugby in the snow.

However, it's weekends like this one that definitely sort of put the primal lifestyle in perspective. Beer at a rugby game aside, seeing just how terrible the food that most people put into their bodies (and the quantities they consume it in) is definitely gives me a renewed sense of self-respect. Furthermore, it makes me realize just how active (mentally and physically) my lifestyle choice has made me.
I really, really CANNOT sit in front of a television for more than an hour (two at most) and just zone out. Even then, if I'm going to watch for more than 10 minutes, it really needs to be something worth watching (i.e. definitely NOT Olympic speedskating. Watching people skate in circles is not really that different from watching NASCAR). It amazes me that people spend upwards of 5 hours a day sitting on their ass mindlessly plugged in to whatever garbage is on. I can't even watch shows that I
like (not that there are very many of them, mind you) for that long.
Also, I'm just going to say right now that I don't care about the Olympics, at all. I really don't care. I'd rather be out riding down a mountain on my snowboard than watching someone else ride down a mountain on his/her snowboard. It's not that I'm jealous of other people's talent, it's that I don't care. And I don't make idols out of other people, many of whom are only at this level of skill because their parents pushed it when they were kids. Really, what kid CHOOSES to do anything when they're 3-5 years old? Huh?
The logic is really the same logic behind not watching
any other sporting events on TV ... I would rather go out and play some 1-on-1 with a buddy or just shoot freethrows by myself than watch other people do it. I guess I'm just an active person like that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Post-Workout Nutrition: Trial and Error

With all the fitness and nutrition blogs out there, it's virtually impossible to find an idea that someone else on some other blog doesn't argue against. Now, discounting all the kids who's level of expertise is their high school biology class (and keep in mind, I can't even claim that, I never paid attention in that class. I am a scientist, but biology is the one discipline of science that I have/want nothing to do with), it's still hard to figure out who's right and who's wrong.

So, what better way to approach the problem of determining what combination of food and fitness is best for myself than to simply experiment -- like a real scientist. Can different methods/practices be combined and still produce good results? We shall see.

 I recently adopted a weightlifting routine posted on a bodybuilding website. Why? Why not? I don't really have anything to loose. When bodybuilders are "bulking" they usually eat a ton of food and then worry about shedding excess bodyfat later. So, the question is, can I use this routine (geared towards strength/muscle mass gains) in conjunction with my primal lifestyle and still get good results (i.e. lean body mass gains)? Well, I look more ripped than I did a month ago, but that isn't really saying anything.

Last semester I decided to implement a 1-2 hour fast after my workout because of the implication that not eating increases the amount of HGH released. Supposedly, the insulin response created by consuming food decreases the HGH response. I did this with pretty good results, but given that virtually every bodybuilding site in existence preaches endlessly about the importance of consuming carbs and protein immediately after for glycogen uptake and protein synthesis, I decided I'd give it a try and see if the results were any different.

I have been consuming a simple post-workout shake that is made with frozen fruit, coconut milk (or whole milk), and whey protein isolate. 
The basic recipe is:
1 piece frozen fruit (i.e. 1 banana, 1 peach, 4-6 strawberries, 1/2c blueberries)
1/2c liquid (coconut milk, whole milk, half and half, almond milk, or any combination thereof)
1 scoop Natural Factors French Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate

I think I've definitely gained a bit of muscle, but it's hard to know whether that can be attributed to a change in post-workout nutrition or simply doing a workout that pushes me further. Stay tuned for more posts as I play around with my routine and nutrition.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Failure and Success