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.