Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fuel your day!

We are like any other family nowadays.  We are crazy busy!  When we have visitors to the house, they feel exhausted at the end of their stay.  As many of you will understand, with two young kids in the house, our day starts early.  Yesterday was a pretty typical day in our household.  My husband woke me up at 545 to help him get a brisket in the roaster (for a work luncheon potluck).  Our daughter was passed out in our bed surrounded by grapes...sigh...we had forgot to lock our fridge again.  (Believe me, she's done way worse!) My husband carried her back to her bed.  I kissed him goodbye and heard my son starting to stir.  I took a quick shower, like army boot camp fast, and got my son up.  Before I knew it we had one hour before swim lessons!  Pre Paleo I would have reached for a handy box of cereal or frozen waffles.  I can't drive home this lesson enough, preparedness is key to your success with this lifestyle!  In a true pinch make sure you have hard boiled eggs on hand.  I had a few minutes this time so I threw together my 10 minute bacon hash and eggs, a favorite of the kids. Part of my prep day ritual is to bake up a bunch of yams.  I mash most of them and set a few aside for these quick breakfasts. In a matter of minutes we have a nutritious and filling breakfast.  (Feeds 4)

-2 baked yams (peeled and cubed)
-6 slices nitrate free bacon cut up into bits or half a pound of sausage alternatively
-6 leaves of Kale chopped
-Free-range eggs (I usually cook 2 per adult and one per child)
-Granulated garlic to taste (I think I put garlic in just about everything)
-Black pepper to taste
-Turmeric to taste

-Cook bacon in pan on high heat
-Add cubed sweet potatoes while bacon crisps
-Add seasoning
-Turn hash frequently with spatula to prevent burning. 
-When the hash has browned add the kale
-Stir the kale in for about 30 seconds (the kale will cook quickly)
-Remove the hash to serving dishes/bowls
-Fry up your eggs in remaining bacon grease (add olive oil if needed) and season to taste.
-Place fried eggs on top of hash

This whole process takes me about 10 minutes.  It's full of protein and vitamins and will fuel your busy day!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Propel has nothing on Bone Broth

I recently got over a miserable gastrointestinal bug.  After three days I finely relented and went in to see the Doctor.  He told me everything I expected to hear; "Eat a BRAT diet, get plenty of fluids, especially sports drinks like Propel to replenish your electrolytes."  It wasn't until I got better that I realized what I really needed was good old fashioned bone broth.  How lucky is my husband then to get sick right after I made this realization and reap its benefits!  Bone broth can be made from the bones and leftover carcass of beef, chicken, or fish.  (I can just imagine the face my dad would make if he walked into my house while fish broth aromas were in the air)  All joking aside, bone broth really may cure what ails you, just like your great grandmother used to say. 
The process of making bone soup extracts a nutrient dense broth from the bones, cartilage, and tendons.  Bone broth is rich in easily digestible forms of vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulfur. It is rich in glucosomine and chondroitin which is essential to joint health.  Gelatin makes up a majority of the bone broth.  Gelatin is medically documented to heal the gut, aid in digestion, and improve conditions such as colitis and chron's disease. Other health benefits include improvement in anemia, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and cancer. A lessor known health benefit of bone broth is it has been clinically correlated to the improvement of cellulite (reason enough for me to have a cup a day). 
Bone Broth or Stock used to be a staple in every kitchen.  Since the late 1940s real stocks have been replaced by chemically altered natural flavors in the form of powders, bouillons, and cartons.  There is nothing natural about the stock you are buying in the grocery store.  Food companies discovered proteins from grains and legumes could inexpensively by altered into monosodium glutamate (MSG).  MSG is recognized by your taste buds as flavorful meat.  We traded nutrition for profit and convenience.   Without bone broth the modern diet is missing an important source of minerals. MSG is a neurotoxic substance.  If you remember that chemistry course you took ages ago the term isomers may ring a bell.  MSG is the unnatural right handed form of glutamic acid and is linked to pathogenesis of the nervous system.
Now that I've bored you with a chemistry lesson here is the recipe to my "Get well soon soup."

- 3 lbs grass-fed beef soup bones (farmer's markets and butcher's will practically give these away)
-4 whole carrots
-2 whole leeks
- 1 bulb of garlic
-1/2 bunch kale
-2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
-1 tbs whole peppercorns
-2 tsp tumeric
-8 cups water

1. Clean and chop carrots, leeks, and kale so they will fit well in slow cooker. (Remember you will be straining the broth in the end)
2. Peel and mince garlic
3. Add all ingredients to slow cooker on high
4. Cook on high 30 minutes
5. Turn temperature to low and let broth simmer for 24 hours (adding the vinegar will help leech the minerals into the broth)
broth strained and hot
6. Turn slow cooker off and let broth cool.
7. Strain broth and refrigerate. (Broth will be clear brown color)
8. Skim off the fat once the broth cools.  (The stock will look like a jelly when cooled)
9. Stock will keep several days in your fridge or can be frozen

Enjoy broth in other recipes as a stock or enjoy it straight up!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Benefits of Eating Grassfed Beef

Double Check Ranch
My husband and I recently purchased half a pasture raised cow from a local Arizona Ranch called Double Check Ranch.  My husband had the opportunity to go himself to the ranch and pick up our order.  He and a friend got a little lost on the way in the middle of nowhere AZ but eventually found the ranch in this very scenic setting. (Winkelman, AZ)  Their operation is part of new breed of farms that's goal is to get back to the heart of raising animals humanely and healthy.  The cows are grass-fed at pasture from start to finish.  The herd is rotated from different pastures.  They do this the old fashioned way on horseback because their goal is to have stress free, happy cows.  They butcher and process the cows on their ranch as well.  This is important for the quality of the meat.  The cows are never put through the stress of transport to a slaughterhouse.  You are significantly reducing your families risk of food borne illnesses by buying pastured meat.  Feed-lot cattle are kept in poor conditions, are sickly, and are so cramped it's a wonder more illness doesn't spread.

There are many health benefits to eating grass-fed beef and other pastured meats.  Pastured animals contain a very healthy ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats. Their ratio is almost 3:1 while the regular meat you buy at the local supermarket is a whooping 20:1. It is this very reason that red meat has such a bad rep. Diets rich in omega 3 fats nourish the brain and decrease your bodies inflammation. The typical modern diet is dangerously out of balance containing a high ratio of the omega 6 fats. A diet high in omega 6 fats causes chronic inflammation which will lead to arteriosclerosis and a myriad of other health problems. Our modern diet really is killing us. Grass-fed beef is rich in natural minerals and vitamins.  It's also full of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a fatty acid that is almost nonexistent in feed-lot meat.  CLAs are anti-carcinogenic, and decrease the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and many autoimmune diseases . 

A Happy Calf at Double Check Ranch
For me and my family the choice is clear!  I really do believe including pastured meats in our diet is adding longevity to our lives!  For more information check out this video, U.S. Wellness Meats: The grass-fed Difference  The video is about 4.5 minutes long and summarizes the grass-fed difference nicely.
Double Check Ranch

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Treating yourself does not equal cheating

Living Paleo doesn't mean you will never enjoy sweets. Many persons assume that the Paleo diet is just another low carb diet fad.  Paleo can be high carb too.  When choosing the foods you eat you must lend some consideration to your current health and weight loss goals.  If you're overweight or diabetic you well want to keep your carb intake down.  If your weight is healthy or you are feeding your kiddos than you can easily indulge in more carbs.
Good sources of carbs in the paleo diet include fruits, root veggies, wild unpasteurized honey, and pure maple syrup.  Let me be clear on one thing, agave syrup is not paleo.  It is a cleverly marketed product that is no better for you than fructose corn syrup.  Sweeteners, even Truvia, are not paleo either.  They trick your pancreas into pumping out more insulin than you need and mess with your blood sugar levels. 
There are countless possibilities of satisfying your sweet tooth while eating paleo.  I am a sucker for coffee drinks. Most days I have my coffee on ice with a little unsweetened coconut milk.  Some days I just need a mocha.  That doesn't mean I need to cheat.
I simply blend a little cocoa powder, pure maple syrup, coconut milk, and coffee in the blender.  I like to pour this on ice but I could make an ice blended version too. If you're craving sweets, search the internet for a paleo recipe, you'll thank yourself later. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Your diet sounds great! But....

     I can't tell you how many times I explain my diet to a well meaning doctor or nutritionist and I hear "Everything sounds great, just add some whole grains."  They really don't get it!  It's like we are all brain washed.  It was not overnight that I jumped on the Paleo band wagon.  I was already gluten free due to Celiac disease but even I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of no grains.  A friend of ours, a well respected athletic trainer, had told us about the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.  I smiled to be polite and acted interested.  He let us borrow his copy and when I got home I couldn't wait to open it and find all its weaknesses.  The problem was, I couldn't argue a single thing!  Everything stated was backed by sound reasoning and real science.  I read that book with the intention of disproving everything in it and later that week I was emptying our pantry preparing to try the 30 day challenge. I felt better than I had my whole life!  I was looking good too!  I will never look at food the same. 
So let's break down the science on why grains are not a good thing to have in your diet. Grains are essentially the reproductive part of the plant.  They evolved mechanisms to avoid being eaten such as Phytates, Lechtins, and immunoreactive proteins like gluten. It is only since the agricultural revolution that humans have eaten grains.  Our bodies are not designed to digest them.  In fact, most mammals can't digest grains.  Recent research is linking our bodies responses to these foreign invaders to a variety of autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation that plague modern man.  If you're worried about missing out on nutrients I would like to direct your attention to this article by Robb Wolf,  Kids, Paleo and Nutrient Density  
By elimating grain from your diets you will avoid inflammation and you will have room for nutrient rich vegetables and fruits instead.  Sounds like a healthy way to eat to me!