Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stock Scum or Chicken Foam

We had a lively debate over at about the properties of the scum floating on top of stock and whether it really needs to be skimmed. I bravely volunteered to taste the scum during my next stock making, which happened to be the poaching liquid for yesterday's Succulent Chinese chicken. There were predictions it would taste off, bitter, pollute the soup with nasty flavors. I was concerned that it was perhaps a lot of nutrition being skimmed off.

At any rate, I skimmed it off dutifully and tasted it. Pardon the cliche but it tasted like chicken. No off flavors that I could detect however I'm not a super-taster. I am also not someone who is so revolted by the looks of something it translates into how I taste it (generally). To me, ugly food can taste good. I think I get this from my Mom through early childhood training. Our food was rarely pretty or especially appetizing to look at. Sometimes it was pretty awful looking and on occasion, it tasted pretty awful too. Mom was an experimental cook, as I am, but during a time when people first started experimenting with soy and stuff like that. I'll never forget those awful green soy/cashew burgers she made once.

The stock scum forms really early in the stock making process, like before a boil even starts so I doubt that it involves marrow and good stuff. It's just proteins that decide to clump together. Probably in the same way that beach scum forms. Perhaps it is the precursor to life! Amino acids bumping into one another, one day forming a simple organism.

At any rate the scum didn't taste off at all. No bitterness, no nastiness, just good old chicken flavor bundled into an unappealing looking gray, floating scum. Or I guess if we want to be more gracious we could call it "chicken foam".

So, if you're not overly concerned about the look of your stock, don't skim.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Benefits

Looking back I am often surprised by how my health has improved since I changed my diet. I had a boat-load of things going wrong with me and felt like I was deteriorating faster than I should be at my age (just turned 50 this year).

Here's a list of things I suffered before going "paleo-ish":

IBS, horrible intestinal cramping
Painful joints (ribs, even feet, fingers, wrists, knees, shoulders... everything)
Muscle spasms in the neck
Bursitis in the hips
Every so often, my eyelid would turn into an inner tube (swell to enormous size)
Post nasal drip
Migraine headaches (rarely)
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis (which I was diagnosed with)
Brain fog (poor memory and thinking)

But I stumbled onto gluten as a possible issue, was tested by Enterolab and found out I react to both gluten and casein (in milk). I had already been on the Atkin's diet to lose (and maintain) my weight but it was pretty clear that I needed to make some changes to improve my health. After figuring out the gluten issue I went on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) but found it was awfully fussy. Eventually I realized that it was very similar to a "paleo" diet and just switched. Many of these symptoms went away never to return. Some come back if I reintroduce dairy (the mucus related issues and muscle spasms). I don't ache in every joint now, I haven't had any attacks of rib pain when breathing like I did.

Not everything is 100% perfect, I still struggle with my intestines. It seems like there are a lot of foods that irritate my gut and perhaps there is something else going on down there. But I am no longer having 7-15 painful moments in the bathroom every day. I got the nerve to stop taking the meds I was taking for my Ankylosing Spondylitis and the pain didn't return any worse than it was with the meds. Most of the time I can sleep through the night without waking up with back pain. Most of my joints are pain free, just a few give me trouble and only sporadically.

No more mysterious awakenings with my eyelid looking like a spare tire.

The brain fog was the worst. I felt like I was getting Alzheimer's sometimes. I just couldn't seem to retain new information. After going off gluten that cleared up pretty quickly and I felt like someone had given me back 20 IQ points I used to have.

Fatigue is better, although I'll probably never bristle with energy. There are good days and there are not-so-good days.

Perfect Cold Chicken

It's still Chicken Month.

What's better than a salad with moist, tender chicken in it? But most of the time when I put left-over chicken in the salad, it's kind of dry and overcooked. I have found the right way to make sure the chicken is perfect for left-overs, you must poach it gently!

Succulent Chinese Chicken

This recipe is sheer genius. Not only is it incredibly easy but you can both eat and drink your chicken. The poaching liquid is a nice, if somewhat delicate, chicken broth. I'm going to use it to make a stronger broth. I have 2 gallon sized freezer bags full of chicken bones and gibblets and I'll use them, with this broth, some onions, garlic, carrots and celery, to make a stronger broth tomorrow. It'll lose its Chinese characteristics but gain a lot more flavor.

It was easy to pull the meat off the bone and put into a big container for later use. I saved the bones, of course, for stock. The skin I'm going to try broiling and see if I can get it nice and crispy. Flabby, poached skin isn't my idea of a good thing. So everything used except the cluck!

Now, what to do with that lovely moist chicken?

I would suggest making a nice salad. Here's how I did mine today:

Approx. 1 Tbl of bacon drippings
About 1 Tbl of rice vinegar
A touch of your favorite sweetener (Stevia, honey, splenda) to equal about 2 tsp of sugar.

Microwave the bacon drippings until they become liquid. Briskly stir in vinegar and sweetener.

I used these things in my salad:

Green onion
Mixed baby greens with herbs
Black olives
Some dehydrated onion for crunch
Succulent chinese chicken (from above)
Bacon dressing

It is wonderful! In particular the dressing really goes well with the chicken.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Month of Poultry

Perhaps you can tell from my recent postings but I've been on a poultry binge. I decided to eliminate red meat for a month (mostly) and see if it changes anything. So far no changes in health detected. And I do love chicken... probably more than red meat.

My enthusiasm about spatchcocked chickens brought about a pointer to a link for Golden, Crisp Chicken Cooked ‘Under a Brick’.

It includes details on how to partially de-bone the chicken. In this case you remove the backbone, the breast bone (keel bone) and cut the chicken in half. Then you pare away the rib bones. Again, not really all that difficult. Be careful though. Working with chickens my fingers get very cold and a little clumsy. They also have you chop off the ends of the legs and that seemed kind of dangerous to me. I think next time I'll just loosen the skin from the bone like Jacques Pepin does. It kind of pulls back when it cooks and makes a nice handle. It looks cool.

I think it took me all of about 10 minutes to prepare the chicken and you have to realize I'm pretty new to this. I think once a person was experienced it be maybe a 5 minute chore.

Messy though, I dirtied up a large cutting board 2 knives and my kitchen scissors. Had to clean up the counter-top too (which really needed it anyway).

One again, all the bones and innards get shoveled into a freezer bag and will be used for chicken stock once I get 2 bags worth full.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Get a cast iron skillet

As both my readers know, I have had a couple of tutorials displaying meals that are started on the stovetop and end up in the oven. To do that you need a nice non no-stick, metal pan and I can think of nothing better than cast iron for the job.

I picked up my pan at Bed, Bath and Beyond for around $16. I believe you can also get them at any store with a large camping department. Don't get one with the raised grill things on the bottom.

Now the secret with cast iron is that you shouldn't ever really wash it. I use paper towels to clean the gunk out of mine. Sometimes I dump some coarse kosher salt in and rub it into spots with the paper towels. Or I take a metal spatula and scrape off anything that isn't coming off with rubbing. I put a light coating of oil on it and tuck away the pan. I don't use this pan for soupy, saucy things.

Every now and then, especially if the pan is getting sticky spots. I put a good coating of oil on it and stick it in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. That "seasons" it.

The brand I found was Lodge but I'm sure brand doesn't matter much. I have a cast iron dutch oven too, but haven't used it yet.

The Ultimate Skeptic Versus Stainless Steel

I am the ultimate skeptic. I don't believe in much. When I hear fantastic claims I might smile and nod but inside I'm going, "Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. Ummmm hummm." So whenever I saw those stainless steel bars of soap you're supposed to wash your hands with to get rid of stinky garlic smells, I always thought, "There's a sucker born ever minute".

But underneath that hard crusty skeptical exterior there's a little girl that believes in magic, unicorns, Djinni's, frogs that turn into princes, wizards who hurl lightning bolts from their fingers and so on. Every now and then I succumb to my desire to find magic in the world and buy something that over promises, usually it's in the form of nutritional supplements.

Ok, this time it wasn't longevity in a bottle I bought, but a stainless steel garlic press. I've been disappointed with garlic presses in the past, they just didn't work well. But I was assured this one was a really good one, it had rave reviews on Amazon. A number of people mentioned you could rub your stinky garlicky fingers on it after working with the garlic and it'd remove the smell.

So the press came in the mail and yes, it presses garlic very nicely. I had to try, even though I didn't actually need garlic for anything. But after cleaning it my fingers stunk (or smelled good, depends on your point of view I suppose). So feeling a little foolish I took the garlic press to the sink and rinsed it, and my hands rubbing my stinky fingers against it.

I dried my hands and sniffed...

There was NO garlic smell! It absolutely does work. I walked around the house in stunned disbelief. There is magic in the world!

Now please excuse me while I go and try to faith heal, commune with long dead ancestors, try to hurl a lightning bolt from my fingertips, and look for a Unicorn!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Flatten that Chicken!

I'm excited. I have found something I really love. It is thrifty and delicious. It is butterflied or spatchcocked chicken.

Basically what you do is buy a whole chicken and flatten it. It isn't difficult at all, but it is a bit messy. Be sure you save everything you remove from the chicken and freeze it for making a good bone stock later on. And I mean everything, giblets, neck, breastbone, backbone. After you eat some chicken, save the bones!

I bought two chickens at Costco, .99 cents a pound. Compare that to $2.99 a pound cut-up fryer from Trader Joe's. What a deal.

Here's a tutorial of how to "spatchcock" a chicken, complete with pictures.

Ok, the price savings is nice but there are other benefits:
  • More surface area: It is great for holding onto any sort of coating, like... ummm... a mustard crust perhaps?
  • Faster cooking time: A whole chicken might take an hour or more to cook. A flattened chicken takes 30-45 minutes, depending on method and temperature.
  • More skin! I adore eating chicken skin but you miss out on a lot of skin if you buy pre-cut up chickens.
I caught a glimpse of Jacques Pepin on PBS recently making this Mustard Crusted Chicken recipe and I just had to try it. I've butterflied a few chickens, thanks to Alton Brown's wonderful show displaying the technique, and when I saw that this was first cooked in a oven-safe skillet (to brown up the back, I suspect) it looked to me like it was winner. I've had such great luck cooking steak in skillet, then oven, that I could imagine cooking a bird this way would be fantastic.

The only differences were that I removed the legs and wings, misunderstanding his instructions which should just have had me cutting through the meat so they cook faster. But it also made the bird fit into my cast iron skillet a little better.

This chicken recipe cooks in a mere 30 minutes in the oven and the smell is intoxicating. The taste? Wow! I'm going to be using this recipe over and over.

I was trying to play a computer game upstairs while this chicken was cooking but the smell totally derailed my concentration. I had to stop playing and come downstairs to be closer to my meal.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thickening Revisted

I got a chance to use the Konjac flour today and it worked pretty well. I made a stir fry and used about 1/4 tsp of the flour. I mixed it with water first. It turns the water to a gel. Then you scoop that gel into the liquid part of your stir fry, as you're boiling it. In the future I might use 3/8th of a tsp as it seemed like the thickening power of 1/4 tsp wasn't quite as much as I needed. But I think this might end up being my favorite stir fry thickener so far!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Coconut Flour dalliances

I've been toying with coconut flour again. I made my sister a muffin from coconut flour, egg, lemon juice, sweetener and baking powder and she loved it. As usual I didn't measure, I just guessed. So I didn't have a recipe to give her. Now I'm trying to nail down a recipe and I can't duplicate it.

Well, sooner or later I'm bound to get it right and when I do I will post it here.

The Thickening Thicket

I'm back to experimenting with thickeners. My last stir-fry I tried to skip the cornstarch and used some not/Sugar instead, which is a mixture of vegetable gums. It got thick when I mixed it with water but promptly lost it when I poured it into the stir fry juices.

I have some xanthan gum and haven't tried that. But I stumbled upon something I hadn't considered! Glucomanan flour or Konjac flour. It's a type of plant sometimes referred to as a yam. I bought it a couple years ago thinking it was something I could use as flour and I had awful gastrointestinal consequences from that. But turns out, it really isn't something you should use like that, but more like a substance to create a gel or thicken stuff.

Here's an article out using Konjac flour to thicken things:
The low carb thickener - Konjac flour

So back to the stir-fry drawing board!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stir Fry Crazy

All of a sudden I can't get enough Chinese style stir-fry. Broccoli in particular makes me crazy when it has been stir-fried. I found a recipe for a stir-fry sauce that I absolutely love. It does go out-of-bounds on the Paleo front a bit but the meat and veggies in a stir fry are absolutely positively Paleo.

This reminds me very much of House Special Chicken from Pickup-Stix.

1/4 Cup Wheat Free Tamari Sauce
1/4 Cup of Water
1/4 Cup (equivalent) of a sweetener (or honey)

Mix these 3 ingredients and marinate your meat (I usually use chicken).

Now I feel like veggies and meat used in a stir-fry should be the cooks choice. I generally use broccoli, mushroom, onions and whatever else I have on hand, like Bok Choy.

I like to stir-fry the broccoli and perhaps mushrooms and onions before anything else because they take awhile to get to the desired doneness. Something tender like boy choy should be last. Then I remove those from the wok and stir-fry the chicken (lift it out of the marinade with a slotted spoon, save the marinade). Then I add in the tender veggies and put back the pre-cooked veggies and fry very briefly.

Next you want to take about 2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch (yes, NOT paleo, but only 7 carbs each, and you probably won't use it all) and mix with enough water to get it liquid.

Now pour the marinade into the wok and when it begins to boil add enough of the cornstarch solution to get it thick enough to suit you.

Depending on how much meat/veggies you use, this will make 4 servings or so. So 1-2 Tbl of cornstarch divided over all those servings isn't bad carb-wise.

One could try using gums and I will give that a shot at some point and report back. But for now, the cornstarch seems like a minor transgression.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Still stuck on the egg crepes!

I often make these for breakfast and lately for dessert as a bed time snack. If I have any mostly-paleo lemon curd on hand, I might top them with that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bird Fat

I am unafraid of animal fats. Why? Well, for one they don't really cause any lipid issues on a low carb diet. In fact, they raise the amount of good cholesterol. For another, I don't really buy into the whole lipid hypothesis of heart disease, in it's present form. Read Gary Taubes "Good Calories, Bad Calories" if you want a good overview of the source of my skepticism. This topic has become dogmatic though. Many people have invested their careers, reputations and fortunes in promoting the idea that fat is bad or animal proteins are harmful to humans. Arguing with them is like trying to use science to prove God does or does not exist. It just doesn't work. But everyone is free to choose their phat philosophy. And my philosophy is that fatliness is next to godliness.

I absolutely love duck and goose fat and I cook those birds just to rob them of their fat. It is great tasting fat. Veggies cooked in it are just amazing tasting. Also these birds eat a lot of grasses and probably insects, both are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, so it wouldn't surprise me if duck and goose are higher in those fatty acids. But outside of my suspicion they're very healthful forms of fat, I think they're vastly delicious.

Do yourself a favor, roast a duck or goose and save its fat for cooking!

Here's a recipe that should get you started, I use this method and it works great. I skim the fat from the pan and save it.

Crisp Roast Duck Recipe

Steak Tutorial

I was steak cooking newbie but found some good tips online and finally made a little tutorial about how Nancy Does Steak!

Step 1:
Preheat a cast-iron skillet on high heat for a few minutes. Don't need to add any oil or anything. Turn the oven onto 375.

Step 2:
Prepare the steak. I "butter" my steak with goose fat (see ingredients picture below) and then use coarse kosher salt and cracked pepper, and plenty of both. The reason kosher salt is necessary is that it has big spikey crystals that will stick to the meat better than table or sea salt and that helps the meat form a crust (according to Alton Brown). If you don't have goose fat you could use another fat with a high smoke point like peanut oil. Don't use butter though, it burns easily.
(Look at all that goose fat! I had that whole container totally full from cooking one goose.)

Step 3:
Plop your "buttered" steak into the pan and let it sear on each side for 2-3 minutes. On this steak I went for 3 minutes. Turn on your vent fans, open your windows! You might want to use a splatter screen if you used a lot of fat.

Step 4:
Turn it over to the other side and sear it. About the time you're done searing your oven should be up to temperature (at least mine is).

Step 5:
Lift the pan off the stove-top (use a pot holder, it is HOT!) and put it into the oven.

How long to cook? It seems to depend on the thickness of the meat and the size of the steak. This one was 9 minutes to be pretty rare. You can learn to judge the doneness by poking the steak with a finger. If it feels mushy and soft, it is very rare. The firmer it is, the more done it is. I often like leaving it a little rarer because I eat half of the steak, next day I re-heat the leftovers and put it on a big green salad and I don't want it overcooked from the reheat.

Step 6:
Let the steak rest for 3 minutes and tip the platter so the juices run off. You want that "crust" you made while searing to stay as crunchy as possible. I'd suggest using a bigger plate than I did.

Optional Step 7:
Throw something like spinach or another vegetable in the pan and use the left over heat to cook it. You'll get vegetable mixed with yummy fat, salt and pepper with that lovely steak flavoring.

Step 8:
Enjoy! There's a side of avocado with mayonnaise if you're wondering about that green/white blob.

Everything I know about cooking steak came from these two sources:

Guide to cooking perfect steak
Alton Brown's steak method (video)

Limited food selections but not bored

I don't get bored on a limited selection of food, or at least on the set of foods I currently eat. I have a suspicion that what people usually identify as boredom really isn't boredom. At least that was true for me. I get a kind of restlessness sometimes where I will want something I can't have, like salted nuts or peanut butter or worse.

I know I have plenty of foods I like, but they're not the foods I'm presently craving. If you asked me previously to identify what the source of my discontent is, I'd say "I'm bored with these foods". But on further reflection, I know that isn't right. I love the foods I have available to eat and at meal times I eat them happily. But I'm hungry and hunger is good sauce. Everything tastes wonderful, I'm fully satisfied and contented after a meal and food is far from my mind. Absolutely no boredom with mealtimes.

But come the snacking hour (between bed time and dinner time) that restlessness sends me scurrying to the pantry looking for forbidden eats. That is not boredom... it is cravings.

I think really people normally eat very limited diets. But they're not aware of the limitations so they don't pay them any mind. However when they go on a diet, they're suddenly quite aware of their new limitations and mentally that makes them uncomfortable and they look for escape clauses.

I've given up foods for 2 reasons. One is that some make me ill like gluten, chocolate, nuts, seeds (*cry*) and dairy. The other list is ones that make me fat. The fat ones seem to set off binges so bringing them back "in moderation" just isn't going to happen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coconut Lemon Mousse

Ok, this one is super easy! Goes together fast but needs some time in the fridge to set up. I don't have exact measurements for sweetener, I tried about 3/4 cup of sweetening power and that was too much. So we'll guess, and please taste and adjust.

1 Can of Coconut milk (mine was 15 oz)
1/3 Cup of lemon juice (fresh is always best, but sometimes I cheat and use bottled)
Lemon Zest [optional]
1/3 - 1/2 Cup of sugar (or sweetener to that equivalency)
2 tsp of gelatin

Soften the gelatin on a little water in a bowl.

Microwave or cook the coconut milk until it gets hot, but you don't need to boil it. Add everything to the hot coconut milk and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

You can pour into little bowls or just keep it in one large one.

I like to serve this on hot raspberries.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Egg Crepes with Berries

The last couple of mornings I've been eating egg crepes, doused in butter (ghee if you're really sensitive to casein), and drowned in slightly sweetened blackberries or raspberries.

What you need

2 Eggs
1 non-stick pan
Cooking oil
Frozen or fresh berries
[optional] A bit of sweetener, I use liquid splenda.

In a small non-stick pan I add some cooking oil and let it get hot.

The berries are easy. If they're frozen, pop them into the microwave for 30-45 seconds until they're heated and juicy. Add in sweetener and mix.

Meanwhile I break 2 eggs into a bowl and add a few Tablespoons of water, to thin the egg. I beat it very well with a fork. Then pour enough egg into the pan to just cover the bottom. I let it cook until fairly well set-up. Flip it over and just let it cook for a few seconds on the other side. Flip onto your plate and top with butter and berries.

If can imagine that if you weren't completely paleo with the dairy stuff, some sugar-free whipped cream would be delightful, or even some creme fraiche.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mostly Paleo

Hello world!

I'm mostly paleo. What's that mean? Well, it means I follow a more-or-less Paleo diet, similar to the one in Loren Cordain's book, "The Paleo Diet", or perhaps the purist plan of "Protein Power". My interest in this form of diet came from my weight loss attempts on Atkins. I'm not new to Atkins or low carb dieting by any means. Back in the 1970's I was a teenager and lost some weight on Atkins, when it was pretty new and my metabolism was new and shiny.

Later on, in my late 20's or early 30's I got interested in low carb dieting again and actually founded a Usenet group dedicated to the topic. Then I got swept away in the low fat craze and actually became vegetarian for awhile. I got much fatter and my health started to deteriorate, although I didn't really link it to my diet at the time. Meanwhile Dr. Edell, Dr. McDougall and others were saying you couldn't get fat if you didn't eat fat... yeah, right.

As I started to get into my late 30's, early 40's I really felt like things were rapidly going downhill. I had terrible blood sugar swings, gained weight incredibly fast, my intestines were giving me problems that were getting worse all the time, my thryoid went bananas (Graves Disease) and I was starting to get arthritic. It just seemed like I was way to young to be suffering all this. And I was getting pretty fat. So I decided to return to low carb and bought the newer Atkins book and started up again. This was probably in 2003.

Low Carb Goes High Tech

This time many companies had reengineered a lot of foods to make them low carb. For instance, bread became super high fiber to make it low carb. The other tool they used was to increase the amount of wheat protein used in bread, that would decrease the number of carbs. This protein is called "gluten". Well, I happily nommed down on these breads, sometimes I ate "low-carb" bars, I enjoyed the low-carb milk and ate plenty of cheese and other lovely things... but I was having horrible problems with my intestines and it was getting worse all the time.

Sometimes I'd be running to the bathroom 15 times a day. Other times I'd be seized in the night with terrible diarrhea and intestinal cramping. I'd spend hours in agony sitting on the toilet. I figured I had IBS and didn't really pursue it with a doctor. Not only that but I my arthritis was getting a lot worse. I seemed to be having arthritis is most joints and also horrible muscle spasms. Eventually I stumbled on gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, as a possible explanation of my symptoms. I got rid of all sources of dietary gluten and low and behold, my diarrhea cleared up in 2 days.

Shortly after going gluten free (GF) I got a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis, an autoimmune disease that, in some people, turns cartiledge to bone. I'm lucky in that in me, it just makes me hurt everywhere. My rhuematologist put me on a relatively mild drug, Sulfasalazine, and eventually my symptoms went away.

But I didn't know if it was because of eliminating gluten, increasing my Vitamin D3 intake, or the drug. About 6 months to a year after going gluten free I was feeling really good with the joint and muscle pain. The intestinal issues were much better, I wasn't living on the toilet and the cramping was gone. Although I still seemed to be getting reoccuring diarrhea and sometimes constipation. Other things that troubled me were a constant post-nasal drip and stringy ropes of mucus that would crawl down my throat sometimes. Gross, I know!

So on January 1st a few years ago, I decided to give dairy products the boot and see what would happen. I had a last binge on dairy (suffered with horrible gas from it) and quit. Dairy was harder for me to quit than the grains were. I have always loved dairy products. But I must admit, the idea of quitting was worse than the actual quitting.

Anyway, I felt like I had another health improvement quitting dairy. Sinus issues really improved, intestines felt a bit better too. I tried going back on dairy and immediately started to get muscle spasms. I thought it was perhaps coincidental but I've attempted it a few additional times since and they do seem to come back almost every time.

I'm not as fanatical about dairy avoidance as I am gluten but overall I feel like removing dairy products has helped me a lot.

Well, now I'm doing much better. Gut is doing very well, not perfect but much better. My arthritis issues are really well controlled. My rhuemy is suggesting that Sulfasalazine will be in my life forever. Unfortunately it was giving me macrocytic anemia and I wasn't happy about that... even taking folic acid supplements wasn't helping with that.

So I decided to try to stop the Sulfasalazine and see what would happen.

My symptoms did NOT return! I went a good year without any issues and believed it was due to the diet. However, I did recently have a flare and I'm dealing with some neck and shoulder pain. Taking 1/2 a naprosyn every other day seems to make it bearable though.

So, after going GF and casein free (CF, i.e. dairy free) and being low carb to lose weight (and preserve my weight loss of about 45-50 pounds) I decided that the diet I should probably be following is a Paleo diet. The philosophy here is that we should stick to eating foods we have had the longest evolutionary time eating. Foods that are new to us came to us with farming, which happened over the last 10,000 years (much more recent in some parts of the world). Now, living in N. America I don't have access to exactly what my paleo ancestors ate and I'm not really all that interested in trying to be 100% accurate. I'm always rather corrupted in my tastes in that I LOVE sweets, I drink coffee and there are other non-paleo things I'm just not prepared to give up. I think I get most of the benefit of the paleo diet while still making it convienent and fun and very tasty.

So, this is a blog about my way of eating. Perhaps others can see how easy and delicious it can be to eat a very healthy diet. And even one that restricts foods quit drastically can be very tasty.

Other Food Intolerances

As time goes on I have found I have other foods intolerances, which I've indentified by using an elimination diet. It turns out chocolate, nuts, seeds, even sesame oil, were giving me intestinal problems. I'm not sure why I've developed so many sensitivities to so many foods, perhaps leaky gut or something explains it. Or perhaps I'm missing some crucial enzyme or gut bacteria. But I am staying away from those foods too, at least for now.

What do I Eat?

I eat meat, fish, poultry, vegetables (only low-starch ones 99.95% of the time), spices, low sugar fruits (berries), eggs, very modest amounts of soy and coconut products. That might not sound like much but if you look at the cruisine of Southeast Asia, that's pretty much their entire menu too, except for rice. So I look to SE Asia for inspiration and got a Thai cookbook with very easy recipes.

My staples include: Chicken, tomatoes, broccoli, many herbs and spices, spinach, onions, garlic, beef, pork, salmon, tuna, salad greens, cabbage, brussel sprouts, olives, olive oil, rice vinegar, avocados in mass quantities, Splenda, erythritol, xylitol. To drink I have been indulging in Koolaid sweetened with liquid splenda called Sweetzfree.

To the Paleo purists out there that are writhing in horror over my use of non-caloric sweeteners, yes, I know you're offended. But I feel that to make the diet enjoyable and fun, I need to have something to use. And whatever harm, which hasn't been proven reputably, it probably can't be worse than the harm caused by using sugar or fructose based sweeteners (like Agave Syrup).

So with all that said. The rest of this blog is going to be recipes and menu ideas and occasionally newsy things about the Paleo diet.