Wednesday, March 28, 2012

5k Race Details and Training Plan

I did it - if you look to the right, you'll see the "Donate" button so my peeps can donate money for my 5km race that I will be doing on May 27. All money raised goes to the local hospital foundation to pay for equipment at the brand-spanking new hospital. I haven't been there but I hear it's fabulous, especially the Labour and Delivery wing.

So here's the deal: I don't really like running. I used to do it all the time - in fact, I used to run every day. Sometimes twice. Then I ended up with a stress fracture in my foot (and likely in my shins, too) and decided to stop. I haven't run with any regularity since then. And then I discovered the LeanGains way of doing things (thanks to Martin Berkhan) and then Primal stuff (thanks to Mark Sisson) and I realized I don't have to run 4 or 5 times a week.

Then what do I do? I go and sign up for a 5km race. A running race. Five kilometres. For you Americans, that's about 3 miles. It doesn't seem like a whole lot until you try to do it. Unless, of course, you're a runner and do that easily. I don't. So I better start training! My last race time was 32:23, and was down the side of Hamilton mountain so it took a bit of time off my 2nd best time, which was 33:05. Of course, I'm eating Paleo now, and a lot more protein and stuff, so my body is actually healthier than it was back in 2004 (ouch, I know) when I last raced. So we'll see.

My friend Emy, who is crazy strong and fast and a great runner, suggested I use the Hal Higdon 5k novice training program. It looks pretty solid and doable for me, so I started tonight with a 1.5mile run/walk. I ran for about 7 minutes straight then upped the speed and realized shortly thereafter that I was going to either vomit or pass out, so I walked for a couple of minutes. Then I ran again for the remainder of the run. It took me around 16 minutes, including a 60 second warm-up where I just walked. That's pretty slow, but not bad considering I haven't done more than 30 second sprints in a LONG time.

To see the plan, go to here.

I'll try to do this training plan around my weight training. To be honest, the race is a one-off thing, unless I become addicted again, so my focus will be on finishing with a semi-decent time for my age instead of beating any records. I don't want to sacrifice strength in the gym just to make myself faster.

Is there anyone local to me who wants to run with me??

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Low Volume Training

I've been yearning for a gym membership for a couple months now. I had to get a few things straightened out with my budgeting before I could do so, which sucked. Finally, on Sunday I went to have a tour at a local fitness & racquetball club that just opened in January. I went to make sure they had all the stuff I need and want, like sufficient barbells, weight plates, enough dumbbells, area to work, leg press machine, squat rack, chinup bar, etc. I loved the place - it's so clean, and it's not corporate at all - it's run by the two owners, and the staff are very nice and helpful. Last night I took my void cheque and went to sign up for a 1-year membership.

Now that I'm past that whole "low-carb" performance killer period of time - it lasted about a month - I can focus on getting some good results in the gym. I did a bit of research and decided that Nia Shanks' "Minimum Training For Maximum Results" training program will suit me perfectly. I might add in a couple things as time goes on if I feel I need improvement in certain areas, but yeah - I did Day 1 last night and it took me about half as much time as my at-home workouts have been taking. Which totally rocks, because I don't want to spend 5 hours in the gym every week.

So, you ask, what did I do?

I did deadlifts, shoulder press, chin ups, and farmer walks. Since I haven't been to the gym to lift heavy in well over 5 years, I took it somewhat easy and just focused on form. I wasn't sure about deadlift weight because I've never done them with a barbell, only as 1-legged deads with dumbbells. I will definitely go heavier next time after I get a form check by one of the trainers there.

Another reason I went light on the deads is that I ended up doing some unplanned cardio and stair work yesterday for work - I ended up delivering about 300 flyers to homes in my neighbourhood. Over 150 of those were townhomes, each with 4 steps up to the mailbox. Plus, all the stairs at each of the get my point. My lower back was killing me by the time I got done and went to work. Today it's fine, though, so I'm happy.

I'm considering going to the gym tonight to do some running on the treadmill to
a) burn some extra fat and
b) start training the 5km run I signed up for - it happens at the end of May and I haven't run farther than 2km in a very, very long time. These days I mostly do sprints or walk to get my cardio. So I have a lot of work to do, methinks.

Pledges raised for the race go to buy equipment for the new local hospital. If any of my friends want to donate, I can take money by cheque, PayPal, cash, or email money transfer. Please leave a message with your contact details so I can get in touch with you. I might set up a little widget in the sidebar to make it easy to donate through paypal - is that best?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Progress and Strength

There are several ways to measure progress: by physical measurements, by photo/how you look in the mirror, and by strength measurement. I do all three.

I weigh myself every day. I don't beat myself up if I'm up a pound, I just wonder what could have caused it, ask myself if my eating was out of control in the last few days, and change my plans accordingly. For the last few weeks, I've been stuck in a plateau. I've only got about 10 pounds to lose before I hit the top end of my goal weight (and can only reasonably lose up to AT MOST another 10 pounds after that).

In addition to weighing, I use a fabric measuring tape to gauge fat loss once a week. Sometimes you won't see any movement on the scale but will see a smaller number on the tape. That happened to me for three weeks - I lost a total of 1.5 inches off my waist in that time, but the scale stayed the same. Obviously, I was building muscle at the same time as losing fat. Bonus.

Another way to gauge progress and strength is how you look in the mirror. I take progress photos once every 4 weeks or so, starting with a "before" photo. Last night I took a photo of my back to see if there's any definition showing yet. There isn't much, but there's definitely a lot of muscle under there. I just need to continue with the cut and I'll be totally ripped. I see small lats, big shoulders, and some decent upper back muscles under there. I'm excited to keep going now that I know that's there! (photo quality sucks, sorry)

The final way to measure strength gains is, obviously, how you're doing in the gym. I was finally able to complete an unassisted chinup the other night, after 3-4 months of progression training. And that was after 2 weeks of no training at all! My body needed the rest, now I suspect that I'll continue to make personal records in the strength department. Not bad - how many women can lift 150 pounds like that? Very few, aside from serious weight trainers like the women in my FB groups like LeanYou (co-ed) and Fierce Fit Fearless (women only). I can't wait until I get my gym membership set up so I can go and start lifting REALLY heavy things.

By the way, I added a 24-hr fast into my routine on Thursday to see if it would bump me past this plateau I've been at for 2 weeks, and I'm already down 2 pounds. Will keep on doing one 24-hr fast per week and see what happens.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tikka Masala Crockpot Beef with Coconut Cauliflower

I've been buying one-pound packages of ground beef and stewing beef from pastured, grass-fed cows from a local health store. I'm getting tired of having stew or shredded beef (even though it's delicious) twice a week. So I decided to try a new recipe! I did a Google search of "paleo coconut beef" and came up with this recipe over at FastPaleo, a fabulous Paleo recipe sharing site. As usual, I changed the recipe in minor ways to suit my needs and this is what resulted:

It was good. A little on the spicy side, and I found the taste slightly bitter, so I actually needed to add some coconut sweetener and salt to it to balance out the flavours. Next time I will reduce the spices even further (those changes are reflected in the recipe below) and maybe use some honey. This will serve two adults and a pre-school kid and leave some leftovers for someone's lunch. Note: "T" is my short-form for "tablespoon" and "t" is my short-form for "teaspoon." Don't mix them up. Ha.

1 lb grass-fed, pastured stewing beef chunks
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 each of red, yellow, and orange sweet peppers, chopped
1/2 package of grape tomatoes, left whole (you could use 1/2 can of stewed tomatoes if you have them)
2 T homemade ketchup (I didn't have tomato paste, you can use that instead)
1/2 T garam masala
1 t each ginger and garlic powder
1/2 t each cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes OR cayenne pepper (reduce if you don't like spicy)
1/4 t each salt and coriander
1 T lemon or lime juice
1 T unsweetened dried coconut
1 T coco sweet OR honey OR xylitol (use Stevia to taste, I have no idea how much you'd need)

For the Coconut Cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup of coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Put the beef into your slow cooker and add the onions, coconut milk, and all the spices. Stir to mix everything together and then cover and put on low for 4 hours. About one hour before you plan to serve the meal, add the peppers, stir, and cover again. Fifteen minutes before dinner time, cut up an entire head of cauliflower and steam it until it is still slightly firm. Mash to desired consistency (I leave it a bit chunky) and stir in half a cup or so of coconut milk, some salt, and some pepper to taste. Serve the Tikka Masala Beef over top of the coconut rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt

Dairy is one of those things that you're either fine with, or you can't tolerate it. Of course, you could be totally fine with it and choose not to eat/drink dairy, like me right now, because you're on a cut. But that's another story. There is also argument in the Paleo/Primal camp about whether dairy is acceptable or not. I say, if it doesn't bother you, it should be fine. Obviously, if you have an autoimmune disorder, avoid dairy. Otherwise, go nuts, especially if you have access to raw dairy.

There are two types of dairy: commercial processed dairy, and raw dairy. There is no comparison. Commercial dairy products come from a factory where the milk was separated from the cream after being pasteurized (boiled) to kill all the pathogens that result when cows are crammed into close quarters, fed species-inappropriate food, and drugged to make them produce more and more milk. Organic milk is only slightly better, since the cows do get "access" to outdoor pastures, but there's no actual guarantee of how much they get outside or the quality of the feed they receive.

Raw milk from pastured cows is unpasteurized, clean, delicious, and full of beneficial enzymes and microbes that help heal your gut and protect the milk against bad bacteria. These good bacteria are what give you yogurt, sour cream, and clabber when they multiply. It causes your milk to sour instead of spoil. You can drink milk that's gone sour if it's raw. You would become very ill if you drank spoiled milk - milk spoils when the bad bacteria overrun the good bacteria (or when the good bacteria has been killed by pasteurization and then the milk is contaminated with a bad bacteria).

Raw milk yogurt is raw milk that has been innoculated/bacterially fermented/cultured with the bacteria that create yogurt - generally Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus. These bacteria work by fermenting the lactose in the milk and producing lactic acid. This produces a tangy, firm milk product that is typically better tolerated by lactose-intolerant people (because the lactose has been changed into something else). When you use raw milk to make yogurt, you get the added benefit of lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the lactose for you. Lactose-intolerant people can generally drink raw milk where they can't drink commercial, pasteurized milk. (This is not a guarantee, some lactose-intolerant people cannot tolerate raw milk, either.)

Once you have made yogurt, you'll find there are many uses for it. Typically, raw milk yogurt has a thinner, runnier consistency than store-bought yogurt, because store-bought usually has pectin added to make it artificially thicker and creamier. You can thicken homemade yogurt by straining it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. This makes the yogurt a bit tangier, too. Keep the whey, because you can use it in a variety of things. Whey will keep in a clean glass jar in the fridge for up to six weeks. Use the whey in lacto-fermented products like enzyme-rich mayo, homemade ketchup, fermented cabbage (kimchi), pickles, and other great-for-you foods.

If you strain all the whey off, you will make a cream cheese-like product called "labneh." First, salt the yogurt lightly and then strain it overnight or for up to 24 hours in the fridge. The end result is a thick, creamy, spreadable (and very tangy) product. You can add herbs, fruit, or even canned salmon to this for a spread for crackers (this would be good on almond crackers!) or mix it into a dip for vegetables.

So, you ask, how do you make homemade yogurt? Well, it's ridiculously easy - and you don't need a yogurt maker. All you need is 1L of raw milk (you can use store milk I'm sure, I've never tried), a large saucepan, a candy thermometer, a whisk, a clean jar, and 1/4 cup of live-culture yogurt. You will need a stove and an oven with a working oven light, too. That's where the magic happens. Here's what you do:

1) Turn on your oven to its lowest temperature, generally 150F.

2) Pour your milk (minus 1/4 cup) into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Attach the candy thermometer to the side of your pot so you can monitor the temperature - you don't want it to get hotter than 115F. This would kill the good bacteria and pasteurize your milk. Not good. As it's heating, gently whisk it once in a while to make sure it's heating evenly.

3) As your milk heats, scoop 1/4 cup of yogurt into a measuring cup. This is what you'll use to culture your milk into yogurt. You can use store-bought yogurt for this, just make sure it's a plain, unsweetened, unflavoured yogurt with live bacteria. I use Astro plain. (The one with the red label.)

4) As soon your milk heats to about 110F - and definitely no hotter than 115F, remove it from the heat and gently whisk in the yogurt. Immediately pour it into the clean jar.

5) Turn OFF your oven and turn ON the oven light.

6) Place the open jar into the oven on the middle shelf and quickly close the door. Leave the light on -the light maintains the oven at a temperature perfect for culturing yogurt.

7)  Leave the yogurt in there for about 10 hours. You can check after 8 hours but I've found the best results after about 10. The yogurt should be thick and creamy, and have a tangy flavour.

8) Take the yogurt out of the oven, turn off the light, and screw the lid on. Put the yogurt into the fridge immediately to cool.

9) Eat it as is, strain off some of the whey to make it into a "Greek-syle" thicker yogurt, or strain all the whey off to make labneh. You can eat your yogurt plain, or stir in honey, or even some chopped up fruit. Here I've added some frozen wild blueberries for my daughter:

The yogurt will keep in your fridge up to two weeks or so. I usually heat the milk around 1030 PM, then put it into the oven overnight. When I get up around 730 AM I take it out, check the consistency, and throw it into the fridge for a few hours.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dessert Idea

If you're craving something sweet, but want to stick to low-carb Paleo/anti-inflammatory foods, then what I had for dessert tonight will be perfect. I took 1 cup of sliced strawberries, half a cup of coconut milk, and 1.5 tablespoons of organic dark chocolate-covered cacao nibs. Delicious! It's not too sweet, with some good fats in there to provide lasting satiety.

**I used a new brand of coconut milk since there was no Aroy-D at the market I was at - and I regret it. Full of crap, and it was separated in the can and looked chunky on the dessert. But it tasted fine, I guess. I am going to try to see if I can order a case of Aroy-D. It has only coconut and water, no preservatives, no Polysorbate-80, nothing. It's fabulous. It comes in cans and cartons from the online store. I just need to find out if they'll ship to Canada.

Approximate nutritional info:
289 calories
22 g fat
22 g carbs
3 g proteins

Even with the (for me) relatively high carb count, my total for the day was only about 35g total. I expect I'll full-fledged into keto again by tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Other Homemade Natural and SAFE Cleaners

As I mentioned briefly in my post about orange oil vinegar, you can make all of the cleaners you ever need to use in your home. I've not purchased a commercial cleaner in over five years, and don't miss that toxic stuff at all. We're all a lot healthier for it, and my wallet has a lot more money in it, too. A jug of vinegar costs under $3, a box of baking soda costs $2, you probably have liquid soap for your dishes, and a bottle of lavender or tea tree oil costs under $10 and will last you a year or more (and you can use it in your laundry, on boo boos, and a host of other things). So for $15, you can make cleaning products that will last you about a year, depending on your usage.

Oops, forgot to put my liquid soap in the photo. Oh well, you know what that looks like!

I use three basic cleaners in my home. One is a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant, one is a window and glass cleaner, and one is a scouring solution.

Multi-purpose Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle 3/4 full with white vinegar. Top with water and 10-15 drops of essential oil. I use lavender in the kitchen (lavender has antibacterial and antifungal properties and smells nice) and eucalyptus or tea tree oil in the bathroom. I keep a spray bottle of this cleaner at hand in the kitchen for spraying down the counters and cutting boards after cutting raw meat. YES, vinegar kills germs. Spray and wipe down, then spray and let it dry. I also keep a bottle in the bathroom for spraying down the taps and cleaning the toilet. 
**Note: do not use vinegar on marble surfaces.

Window and Glass Cleaner
Fill a spray bottle half-full with vinegar, half-full with water, and a couple drops of liquid soap. The soap cuts through the wax left behind by commercial glass cleaners (that "shine" you see is made by wax). Give the bottle a shake before you spray. Use a lint-free cloth or a paper coffee filter to achieve a streak-free shine. Newspaper works too, I hear.

Scouring Solution
Mix baking soda, a squirt of liquid soap, and  bit of water until you get it to a consistency like icing. Use a boat brush and this solution to scour the scum off of your bathtub or baked-on food from your stove top. I use this to remove the soap film from my bathroom sink and to polish my kitchen sink, too. Make this as you need it since it will dry out if you try to store it.

TIP: Contrary to popular belief, adding vinegar to your baking soda does NOT make it more powerful. It makes bubbles, sure - remember your Grade 6 science fair project when you made a volcano? The acid (vinegar) mixes with the base (baking soda) and foams. They neutralize each other. That means you lose all potential germ-killing power. So don't do it. :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Natural Orange Cleaner

As a friend of mine said, health isn't all about diet. I've never said that it was, (although if your diet is crap, you'll never be truly healthy) and part of a healthy lifestyle is not exposing yourself to toxic chemicals. There's not much you can do out and about, but you CAN control what kind of cleaners you use in your home.

I've not used a commercial cleaning product in my home for over five years. I use only a few simple ingredients, based on what needs cleaning: vinegar, baking soda, liquid soap, water, and essential oils. Vinegar kills household germs just as readily as toxic cleaners, and isn't harmful to you or the environment. And it's inexpensive!

I ran across someone's Facebook post on how to make orange cleaner and thought I'd try a batch. I just put the orange peels in today to start to infuse the vinegar, so will have to do a follow-up post in a while when it's ready to use. In any case, here's what you do:

1) Take a clean glass jar (I'm using an empty spaghetti sauce jar for this batch) and fill it with clean orange peels. To clean the peels (to remove wax and/or pesticides), scrub the oranges with water and baking soda before you peel them. Easiest way. So far I have two peels in there with some vinegar, I will top up the vinegar and add peels as we eat the oranges.

2) Cover with vinegar, put on the lid, and shake it.

3) Store it in a cool, dark place for two to four weeks. Shake it every few days.

4) Strain out the orange peels and discard the peels (you might be able to compost these, I'm not sure). Pour the orange oil vinegar into a spray container in a ratio of 3:1 (vinegar:water).

5) Use it to clean your counter top, stove top, toilet, sink, etc. Might cause streaking on glass and mirrors; try it and let me know.

You can also use lemon, grapefruit, or lime peels. Don't waste those peels!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Red Meat Will Kill Me?

The interwebz has been bouncing around different headlines covering that ridiculous viral article that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine - you know the one, where they tell you that red meat consumption causes death and disease? Right.

If you MUST read it, go here. But come right back, ok? I'll wait, and then tell you why that "study" is a complete piece of bullshit, in words even a simpleton could understand.

1) It's based not on a double-blind, controlled trial, but on SURVEYS. From people, who are notorious at lying when it comes to food intake, especially when they're people in the health profession who (supposedly) know what foods are healthy and which ones are not. These surveys also rely on people's memories to be accurate. My husband can't even remember what he ate for lunch two days ago. 'Nuff said, right?

2) They lump hamburgers (as in, fast-food hamburgers) in with unprocessed meat. Yeah, right. Have you ever looked at the ingredients list of a frozen hamburger? Soy, MSG, salt, more MSG, filler, dubious source of beef, and likely more salt. Yeah. Unprocessed. So how can they compare apples to oranges here and say that unprocessed meat is unhealthy, if they're including processed meat in with the unprocessed meat? They can't.

3) They don't look at healthy sources of meat. Like pastured, grass-fed cows, pastured chickens, nitrate-free bacon, etc. They don't consider that most meat consumed is full of antibiotics, steroids, and comes from sick, unhappy animals who never see the sun, let alone eat species-appropriate diets. Of course that shit causes disease! I'm not arguing that. But how do we know that the meat the participants ate was what caused disease, when they're also eating fast food, enormous quantities of grains (as suggested by the FDA, of course), etc? We can't.

There are many more points I could lay out here as to why this "study" is garbage. But I think you get the point, right? If you'd like to read a more in-depth analysis of why it sucks, Mark's Daily Apple has a good one.

I'll just keep eating my grass-fed, pastured beef, m'kay?

Speaking of, this is what I had for dinner:

Salisbury Steak, beets with pastured butter, and cauliflower whipped with more butter. MMMM.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brand New Everything!

Wow! If it's been a day or so since you last visited, you'll notice everything is different: the appearance, the name, the description, the URL...I've had a busy morning! I've taken off all the Google ads, except for the ones embedded in the posts (because I can't figure out how to get rid of them just yet). I don't need the ad revenue, and I think it made everything look messy and annoying. So there you go. I left the Amazon stuff because I really do recommend certain products and I'd love for you to see the products I use and love.

If you know someone who is considering switching to Paleo/Primal or a similar lifestyle, or even someone who just is open to learning about nutrition and fitness, please share this blog link. My goal is to help people THRIVE and enjoy life to the fullest.

If you  have any requests for topics, recipes you would like me to try, or have a question, please feel free to leave a comment.

What do you think about the new design?


Hi everyone!
I know I have a few people who follow this blog in a reader, so you'll have to change your settings soon. I'm going to change the URL to

Change your feeds!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Great Meatball Experiment AKA Liver and Onion Meatballs

I've always hated liver. I don't like the taste, smell, texture, or look of it. I'm not sure if my parents like it or not, but one day I remember coming home from school and all I could smell was liver. My Mother had cooked liver, and then made chili. She tried to hide the liver in the chili. It didn't work. Blech. I think the problem was that she cooked the liver first. She would have been better off to have ground or chopped it it to mix into the ground beef. Ah well. She tried, right?

There are many reasons why everyone should eat liver, especially that from grass fed cows. Liver is a great source of vitamins  A and B, plus essential fatty acids like Arachidonic Acid and DHA. Here is a great article by Chris Masterjohn on the benefits of these nutrients.

I want to like liver, I really do. But since I don't like it alone, I need to try other options, where you mix the liver in with other meats. I'm trying an idea I saw here at The Food Lovers Primal Palate (fabulous site, by the way, go check it out. They have resources, recipes, and lots of other cool stuff). Instead of using their recipe with cinnamon, paprika, and garlic powder, I'm using my stand-by hamburger patty/Salisbury steak seasonings: mustard, salt, pepper, and onion powder. I added chopped onion at the very end, mixed everything together well, and formed into meatballs a bit larger than 1oz each.

Does it look like there is liver mixed in here?

My husband and daughter had spaghetti and meatballs (they're still not 100% Paleo, but they're really close). I had the meatballs as-is, with a huge side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower drenched in pastured butter.

Taste Test Results:

Daughter (almost 4 years old): She ate it up. No complaints.

Husband: rated the meatballs a 4 out of 5, and said you couldn't taste the liver at all.

Me: I'd eat these again. I could totally mix that liver into ground beef for my Salisbury steak recipe and pour the mushroom gravy over it. I could probably add more liver, too.

Now I'm off to look at food processors.

Recipe for people who need that kind of thing:
1 lb pastured ground beef (I'm unsure of the meat/fat ratio, we don't do that in Canada, it's either regular, lean, or extra lean. I figure this is between lean and medium.)
1/4 lb pastured beef liver
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp dry mustard or prepared mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp sea salt

Mix that all together and form into meatballs - I got 15. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350F for 25 minutes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I'm still working on the blog name change. Apparently none of my friends wants to leave a comment. Oh well...I guess I'll keep this fab prize to myself. I've been working crazy busy between my two jobs (my "real" job and my writing jobs) and have barely any time to do anything. So I'll get on it asap, I promise.

In the meantime, I've also been thinking about ebooks and photo quality for said ebooks and what I'm going to do about that. I mean, have you seen my photos? They totally suck.

On another note, I'm totally sick. Sore throat, headache, fever, and most recently, a runny/stuffy nose. Awesome. I had terrible carb cravings tonight (mostly pizza) that I managed to resist, but I went way over my planned caloric intake for the day with a bedtime snack of frozen blueberries and raspberries in coconut milk. mmmmm. This is what's left:

Check back soon for a new recipe.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Blog Name

Since this blog is definitely going in the Paleo direction for the most part, I'm considering a blog title change. The URL will remain the same, but the new title should represent health and fitness, with a general Paleo/Primal (grain-free, sugar-free, legume-free, processed foods-free) tone.

I'm also debating making an recipe e-book at the end of this year. I just need to figure out how to take great photos. ;)

So, readers - I need name suggestions. I've had "Paleo Edge" submitted so far. I'm considering "Paleo Health and Fitness." Leave me some ideas in the comments. If I choose your suggested blog name, you'll get something cool.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

One week on Low-Carb Paleo AND Salisbury Steak Recipe

I'm now on day 9 of low-carb paleo....except I can't count last night. I had a friend over and we made a bunch of tequila-and-club-soda-with-lime drinks. They were meant to be margaritas but I totally forgot. Anyway. As usual with alcohol consumption, I kind of strayed from the whole "eat in moderation" rule and ate about 3/4 of a batch of almond crackers with asiago and artichoke dip. Oh well.

For dinner I tried out a new Salisbury Steak recipe. The site is not a Paleo one, but the recipe is low-carb, gluten-free, and Paleo friendly. It does contain dairy, but you could use coconut milk instead of cream in the gravy.

Please excuse the picture, we ate our dinner before I thought to take photos. This is a pic of the leftovers.

It's a fantastic recipe but I did change it a bit. I've found I don't need egg in my ground beef to hold together patties, so I omitted the eggs from the original recipe, and cut the almond flour into 1/4 cup. Here's my altered recipe:

1 lb pastured ground beef
1/4 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1/2 tsp each: black pepper, onion powder, sea salt, prepared yellow mustard (use ground mustard if you have it)

2 cups beef stock
5-7 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp black pepper
dash of salt (depends on if your beef stock has salt in it to start - mine doesn't)
dash of celery salt
2 dashes of wheat-free soy sauce (Bragg's makes some)
1 tbsp cream
1-2 tsp arrowroot flour (used as a thickener instead of flour or cornstarch)
2-3 tablespoons water (to mix with the arrowroot flour)

Start the gravy: place the mushrooms, beef stock, and seasonings into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and see if it needs more salt or pepper. Turn off the heat a few minutes before you want to thicken it. Stir in the cream. Just before serving your meal, mix the arrowroot flour into a small bowl or cup with a couple tablespoons of water and blend with a fork. Pour that into your beef stock/mushroom mixture and mix with fork. If it's not quite thick enough, repeat the process with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon or so of arrowroot flour. (Waiting to allow the gravy to cool a bit will help guarantee your arrowroot starch doesn't break down in heat and fail to set.)

Mix the meat ingredients together and form into 3 or 4 patties. Cook on a baking sheet or baking dish for 25 minutes at 350F. Broil for 2 minutes at the end. Remove to plates and ladle gravy on top.

Serve with a side of mashed/whipped cauliflower and a nice veg - I used sauteed asparagus. MMMM.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Turkey Breakfast Sausages

One thing I miss is pork - not that you could tell from my last three blog posts, right? It's not cut out of my diet due to the whole paleo thing, it's just that I don't make it much because Ben can't eat it. I can't even cook it when he's home, or he'll react to it.

My absolutely favourite pork items (besides bacon) are breakfast sausages, and cheddar smokies...neither of which I am willing to eat anymore. Bacon is even a hard sell for me these days, unless it's nitrate free. Breakfast sausages and smokies are full of disgusting fillers, nitrates, wheat, and a whole lot of other stuff I don't even want to think about. But I digress.

I miss sausage. So I found a couple recipes to make breakfast sausage out of ground turkey, and bought a package of organic ground turkey (not as good as pastured but until they start selling that in the grocery store, I'm stuck). I've always been very dubious of ground turkey, chicken, and pork. My brother makes turkey burgers all the time but the last time I used it I didn't like it, and haven't, since. So this was a total experiment.

I used the recipe from cavemanfood, with a few changes because I didn't have exactly the same spices. But they turned out really well, aside from being kind of dry and needing salt - which was totally my fault because I missed that line in the recipe. I'm not sure if you can buy anything other than "extra lean ground turkey" but if you can, choose one that's not so lean. Or maybe baking these would keep them moist. I don't know. ***edited to add: I made up a double batch and added 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the meat mixture before forming into patties. Made a HUGE difference in texture and moistness.

1 lb ground turkey
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp of each: ground ginger, red hot pepper flakes, cumin, black pepper, nutmeg, oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp of poultry seasoning (or 1/4 tsp ea of basil, sage, and thyme-mine has other stuff in it too but it worked fine)
1 lightly beaten egg

Mix all items together. The original recipe suggests you refrigerate it for an hour to let the flavours meld. I didn't and they turned out great. You'll have to use some kind of oil in the pan so they don't stick. I used a 50-50 mixture of cultured butter and organic olive oil.

Now, if I can find me some pastured pigs and order some ground pork, I'll be making up thousands of these puppies and throwing them in my freezer for when Ben's not home.

In case you're interested, each 120g serving has around 130 cals, 1g carbs, 1.6g fat, and 27g protein. Wowza! Add more fat grams and calories for the type of oil in which you decide to cook them. For some perspective, I used a .65kg package and got 8 flat little patties out of it. Two of those patties is 120g. This is a fantastic high-protein, low-fat and low-carb meal option!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce

I've been really trying to stay away from fruit for the last week, since I'm trying to dial in my carb intake (more specifically, my fructose intake, which goes directly to liver glycogen rather than blood). This, of course, will go back to normal once I hit my goal weight/fat loss target. For now, though, I'm sticking to berries when I absolutely have to have some fruit.

So I was trying to find some inspiration for a sauce for pork when I stumbled across the Paleo Plan website and from there, the Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Sauce recipe. I altered it a bit, cut the amounts in half, and made up a batch. I didn't add honey or any other sweetener, because I figured the blueberries would be sweet enough. I was right. All it needed was a bit of salt to be perfect. My sauce didn't come out looking quite so...saucy, but that's ok. It was still delicious. I used a very small amount of sauce on a large amount of pork for this lunch. Today is supposed to be a workout day (legs) but I'm just not feeling it right now. Maybe tonight I'll do a nice Yoga video to change things up a bit. I trust that one skipped leg workout is not going to throw me off-track.

I had precooked some pork tenderloins in my slow cooker, so all I had to do was spoon this sauce over top for the first meal. Today, I threw some sauce into a small saucepan and laid the remaining tenderloin on top, heated it through, then shredded it up with two forks. I'm telling you, I'm loving the whole shredded-meat thing. Yums. I also had 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/4 cup of fermented (with kefir) cabbage, some grape tomatoes, and some Swiss cheese. I ate a HUGE amount of the pork - over 200g. I'll not be eating now until later tonight, around 8-9pm (it's only noon now), so this meal, which is also my fast breaker, has to last me all day. My total nutritional value work up for this meal: 439 cals, 61.5g protein, 11.75g carbs, 17g fat. Not too shabby.

I must say, this whole Paleo-style eating is really expanding my horizons when it comes to trying out new things. And you know what? I don't miss grains, sugar, potatoes, or processed food one little bit.

As for weight loss, I now have less than 15 pounds to go before I hit my (max) target weight range. I'm getting pretty excited. I know it's not going to happen overnight, but it's happening. And I'll most definitely be at a bikini-ready level of fitness by the summer. Good times!