Posts Tagged ‘paleo’


Over the last month I’ve kept my weight at about 171. That’s good, because I’ve not exercised much due to a sprained wrist. And my doctoral thesis. The sprained wrist might keep me out of crossfit for a while.

Aside from a few planned exceptions, including a flourless chocolate cake a couple weeks ago, I’ve been sticking to the diet. I did have a beer to celebrate sending in the thesis. Usually, I’d have 4-5. Now, its no more than two. I think I’ve made some solid changes – I rarely have chips, rice, pasta, or bread. And the few times I have, it’s been modest. I’ll have chips and salsa, but I’ll have a salad and chicken as an entree rather than rice and beans.

Not having my wrist at 100% has really made it hard for me to do some of the workouts I enjoy. And it’s not healing fast. The doctor said it seemed like a sprain – and I agree- but I’m not taking great care of it. I sprained it by trying to lift something heavy without leverage. I tried to lift about 20 lbs without using any leverage from my arms. Then I tried to do some pull-ups.

But I’ll be back to the discipline, pushing myself a bit more this month, even though I’ll have lots of socializing. Socializing usually means booze.

But I think I can lose another 15 lbs. Especially if I stop before I’m full, and not when I’m stuffed. Thats my current strategy. Strict paleo, while being mindful about how much I eat. I don’t want to have to count every calorie.



March 21, 2010 4 comments

I’ve been working hard on my doctoral thesis. I only went to crossfit once this week, but have procrastinated by reading all sorts of information on lifting and the evils of sugar.

Moving from sugar has been alright. My father wasn’t a sugar addict. My mother used sugar in traditional desserts and high quality chocolate. I didn’t consume much sugar, as High Fructose Corn Syrup became as ubiquitous as it is now. So making these changes hasn’t been psychologically challenging.

I do think we are all potentially addicts. Today I had sodabread and coffeecake offered to me for breakfast. I chose the fruit salad. And later, a neighbor said, “You’ve lost a lot of weight.”

Matt Baldwin and Mark Smith pointed me to the video by Robert Lustig:

It pointed out how fructose was responsible for numerous health problems.

I thought Maple Syrup and Honey are, actually, glucose (but apparently they also have fructose as well). Lustig points out that fruits are our way of getting fiber. Sugar kills the liver, without the buzz of alcohol.

Still, I’ve been good about staying away from most sugars, unless its giving me a lot of fiber.

Categories: Crossfit, Diet Tags: , ,


March 10, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been off the strict Paleo phase for about 17 days now. I’m still feeling strong and making different food choices. The thirty days were very effective in breaking some habits.

I’m still in a “try it to see how it feels” phase. I had a couple beans in chili recently. I made banana bread, but I replaced 3/4s of the flour with almond and coconut; I replaced 3/4 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of maple syrup and an extra banana. It turned out dense and a little crumbly, but delicious. Not exactly paleo, but it confirmed my suspicion: I don’t need a lot of sweet; and there are suitable alternatives to white flour.

But now I’m shopping at a greater variety of places in order to eat “clean.” Where can I get grass finished beef? Where can I buy pasture butter? Are there price differences in Spaghetti Squash? Why can’t I find canned Icelandic fish? Where’s the best place to get high quality Sardines? Shiratake?

I will spend a good three minutes reading a label like I was a Sanskrit scholar translating a verse from the the Upanishads. I ponder the phrases “organic” when I read them. I consider the meaning of “fed a vegetarian diet.” Not grass fed, but no risk of Mad Cow, I think. Corn is bad, but not many options at this grocery store.

I get veggies from the cheap Asian market: my spaghetti squash, mushrooms, and yams. Whole Foods is expensive in some things, cheaper in others. I’ll go down to Fairway in the city to find less expensive, but organic, meats. Trader Joes has 6 dollar Spanish Olive Oil.

Wild caught fish will be expensive everywhere. So will heritage geese. There’s a greater difference between flours and nuts. Occasionally I find an amazing steal: my Asian grocer sells domestic prosciutto for $10 a lb. Not every grocery store has my fascination of the day.

And I do get canned ingredients – especially in the winter. I had baby corn and bean sprouts in the stir-fry medley of “mixed vegetables” in my pantry last night for a generally paleo thai chicken dish I concocted. It’s a rule I have: use whatever canned vegetable is in your kitchen pantry.

It is probably a rule I’m going to change.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

My first foray into sugar

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was my first foray into some serious sugar, aside from my reentry into the drinking world.

Fan and I went into NY to see a play. She’d gotten tickets for free due to cancellations to the play, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch. It was entertaining and smart, if vapid and soulless.

Before the play my first cheat at “New York’s best” diner: half the hashbrowns with my avocado / jalapeno pepper omelette. I chose no cheese with the omelette. I accidentally put half and half in my coffee. Just one, however, and it didn’t make the coffee taste better. The coffee was pretty bad, with or without cream. The company was fabulous, and the diner was fine, but I’m spoiled.

After the play we went to City Bakery. I first went to City Bakery about four years ago, and since then I gave up hot chocolate. Because there is no other place else that could compare to the luscious, creamy liquid pleasure they served.

And I had a chocolate chip cookie.

We took an extra long walk back to the train station, but that evening I went to a wine tasting for a friend’s 50th birthday party, a distributor of high quality Australian wines especially from the Margaret River. As it happens, a well known pastry chef made a buttery cake. I’d resisted successfully until I was led by hand to the cake itself.

I’d been good around the appetizers. No cheese. Some prosciutto. I’ve been around enough cakes to have experienced the mediocre, dry, plastic in a box birthday sugar fest. Once led to the chef who was receiving plenty of praise from adoring fans, I decided to have a bite. If it were a cake of exceptional quality, I’d consume. If not, I’d leave it.

As it turned out, it was pretty amazing.

I do not feel guilty. Although I completed the challenge on Tuesday, Saturday I had my first bite of sugar. I believe that I’ve successfully changed my habits. Today, I’ve remained sugar and alcohol free, but I think I enjoyed the cheats more than before – precisely because they are rarer and for special occasions.

I don’t think I failed in these choices: they were deliberate, thought out, and even planned. It wasn’t a matter of me “slipping.” I even brought an extra piece of cake back for my brother and lady.

And I didn’t even slip a bite for myself.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

Paleo Pancakes

February 17, 2010 1 comment

I’ve gotten a few recipes for pancakes since discussing them.

Here’s one from

1 egg
1/4 cup of ground almonds
1/4 cup of coconut milk

Cook as regular pancakes in coconut butter or other fat or if you are raw/paleo, drink it or eat as a pudding.

(author – Susan Carmack)

More Here.

This recipe came up during a google search.


Serves 2

2 whole eggs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 apple, cored and chunked
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
coconut oil for cooking

Combine all ingredients, except blueberries, into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add blueberries. Heat a large pan on medium heat; add coconut oil and cook small pancakes 2-3 minutes on each side (these are hard to flip, so when they are ready, jab the spatula underneath fast).


These will both be fun to try!

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

The Feast Day

February 17, 2010 3 comments

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday.”  It’s about clearing out the larder and finishing all the food that won’t keep.   It means breakfast for dinner.  Sausage, ham, and cake.  Pancakes.

I don’t eat pancakes often.  My father used to make them every weekend, so I’ve usually reserved them for special occasions.    I have never made them from a mix, and always with real maple syrup.

But I’ll probably not consume them again for a long time.

It would be penultimate cheat day.  If I decided to return once a year to a strict Paleo diet, Lent would be the season.  It just so happens that this year I started Lent a few weeks early.

So until I find a suitable replacement recipe, perhaps made with almond flour and applesauce, no buttermilk blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

Pass the fruit salad.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll have dinner for breakfast.

Food Rules, etc

February 12, 2010 2 comments

I recently bought Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.

Several years ago he wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine about nutrition.  As he also remarked in an interview:  our knowledge of nutrition is like 17th century surgical knowledge.  He has three rules.

Eat food; mostly plants; not too much.

Food is what would have been recognized as food a hundred years ago.  That means no food that is unpronounceable, imitation foods, or foods with ingredients you wouldn’t keep in your pantry.  Or foods called the same thing in different languages.  Like Big Mac.

It is by following the first rule that I’m managing paleo.

Paleo, of course, would disagree with the second rule but agree that we should eat animals that have themselves eaten well.   He points out that mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies are healthy, quoting the Dutch saying, “A land with lots of herring can get by with few doctors.”  Time to reconnect with my heritage, through diet.  I clearly can’t via my height.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Rule 33:  eat foods that have been digested by bacteria or fungi.  They may reduce inflammation.   This may include some yogurt, for example, and kim chi, although not together.   I’ll probably add yogurt, pasture butter, and raw cream once I’m done with the strict 30 day endurance test.

Rule 34:  sweeten and salt your food yourself.   Instead of ordering 7-up, I would use a little Rose’s lime juice and add it to seltzer.  Now its just a lime.  But this is very true:  how we sweeten and salt food is almost always less than how the food corporations sweeten and salt.

Rule 39: cook your own junk food; Make french fries and ice cream at home.  I like this rule.  Use the mandoline, a food processor – or a knife, to make pommes frites or sweet potato fries.   Use an ice cream maker for ice cream, and use healthy substitutes for sugar – like apple puree, bananas, or honey.   It’ll take more time, and will be consumed less frequently.

And rule 63:  Cook.  One enjoyable aspect of the last 30 days is that I’m cooking a lot.  I make my breakfast – and spend 20 minutes doing so.   I’m getting colors by making 2 vegetables (usually one fresh, and the other from leftovers).

It’s clearly not a strict paleo book.  However, it does offer some common sense that overlaps with the underlying philosophy.  The difference is that Paleo blames the neolithic; Pollan blames the industrial revolution.

Both, however, believe that the modern diet is killing us.

Pollan offers a slightly wider scope for eating.   He’s a little less restrictive.   I’ll probably adjust my diet a little after the thirty days, allowing for some pasture butter and yogurt on occasion.   I won’t shy away from cured bacon, even though it might have maple syrup.   I’ll taste the spaghetti sauce my brother made with the chorizo cheese sausage.

And I’ll serve it on Spaghetti.  Spaghetti squash.

Categories: Diet Tags: , ,


February 10, 2010 1 comment

Last night I had a dinner meeting at a board member’s house.  I was excited, because she’s a great cook.

This is a foodie family.  They love good food and wine – and there was plenty. For our casual meeting, she provided several appetizers.  Tomatoes and mozzarella in olive oil, garlic and basil.  Small dogs in bacon.  Goat cheese the size of quarters,covered in chives.  Stuffed mushrooms, with sauteed bread.  Sopressata.   Jim asked me if I needed any wine.

“Oh no.  No drinking for me.”


Nope.  I usually provide a bottle, and also drink it.

So I ate sopressata, picked out the tomatoes and tried a couple of the dog/bacon bites.  I’m sure it was probably processed or cured with sugar, so I decided, after a couple, to stop.  I’ve been having trouble finding bacon without sugar.

We then sat around the table.  Dinner.  Penne and Vodka sauce.  Before me, a challenge to all I knew about civility and manners.  Because there is one rule I’ve almost always followed:  eat what you’re served.   Maybe not all of it, but some of it.

I didn’t know what to do.

Sit there and not eat anything?  Should I give it back?  Everyone else began to eat.  They all began to murmur:  It was soo goooodLaura, what did you put in this? Cream?  Wow.

Within five minutes one person had gone back for seconds.

I picked up my plate and took the hostess aside, who wasn’t sitting down.

“I’m sorry, Laura.  It looks fabulous.  I’m not eating pasta.”

“Oh!  I totally forgot!” She said.  “What do you eat?”

“The normal.  Filet Mignon, Truffles in a light saffron cream sauce, Southern Bluefin Tuna.  I mean, meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit.”  I smiled.  “I’m not hungry.  I’ll have some of the sopressata.”  She was quite apologetic.  I shrugged.

After we finished, I sat next to her in the living room.  I wanted to assure her that it was not her, but me.  She apologized.  “No, I should have reminded told you,” I said.

“Yes, you should have!”

Normally, if I’m in such a situation and on a restrictive diet, I would have a little.  I wouldn’t finish it, but consume the amount the size of my hand – Zone quantities.  But not on these thirty days.  I might make that a rule:  pasta only when forced to, in extreme circumstances, for the sake of social harmony.  Not at parties, where people don’t care and there is a variety of hors d’oeuvres, but when people are watching.    Then a small amount of pasta may be endured, if it doesn’t kill you.    This time, however, for 30 days, I’m remaining obnoxious as an extreme social and physiological experience.

Fortunately, I wasn’t hungry.  The benefit of the paleo diet is that I’m hungry less.  My eating seems to be habitual, merely because food is present.   Yet, I’m still losing weight.

Later, she brought out dessert.  Key lime pie.  Chocolate chip cookies, all home made, still warm.  I’m sure if the chocolate chip cookies could talk they’d say, “hey you.  Stop staring.”

Trusting in my own discipline, I wrapped some up and brought some home.  For my brother.   Resisting kindles more resistance.

But on this cold day, a part of me dreams of Hot Chocolate, especially as a reward for shoveling.

The Bar

February 4, 2010 1 comment

I had promised myself I wouldn’t go back until April 8th.

But I usually have a discussion group, once a month, and the Lazy Boy.  I’d forgotten to change the venue.  The minute I walked in a few acquaintances cheered.  “Father, what’s up?”  Stanley, a chef, said, “they’ve got some amazing brews, a few wonderfully heavenly hoppy concoctions.”  He smiled and stretched back, eager to share this discovery.

“Sounds amazing.  Unfortunately, it’s seltzer and a lime for me tonight.  I won’t be tasting for a while.”  And for a long while.  Beer is off limits until the 8th of April.  “Got a meeting and I’m off the hooch for another 20 days.”

“Really?”  He was intrigued and amused.  Clearly I’ve spent way too much time here.

“Yes.  I’m undergoing a cleanse.”  That’s the only way I’ve discovered I can describe the diet without horrifying people.  “No alcohol.  No sugar.  No dairy.  No grains.  No legumes.”

“Well, that’s cool.”  This is code for, you’re crazy and I’m not sure if I want to talk to you any more.

My co-leader arrived, and I said goodbye to the barflies as we made our trip to a table.

I had expected to find it difficult.   I’m in a familiar environment, one that gives me warm feelings, one where there is society and friendliness, one that has plenty of visible pleasures (I’m thinking of the beer, not the bartenders).

I’ve got a long relationship with beer.  When I’d come back from college, my dad would fill the refrigerator with a six pack of Sam Adams as a sign of affection.  My cousins were both beer distributors for microbreweries in the late eighties, so when I was in my twenties I went to a fair number of beer festivals, and poured at a couple.   I’m an accidental connoisseur.  Paleo asks me, “is it worth it?”

There is a greater issue at stake.  I’m an admirer of civilization.  If our culture is derived from agricultural society, then there are some practices worth keeping.  For some, beer is why there is a civilization.  Someone accidentally discovered the enjoyable properties of mead and decided to cultivate the ingredients for a more consistent state of mental bliss.  After all, that is how early bureaucrats got paid.  In beer.  (I’ll let someone else to the fact checking on this).

Actually,  being there wasn’t bad – I’m habituated by this point, to say no to everything.    I’m also seeing results.  The other evening, a friend said, “your face looks thinner.”  She was the type who is fairly … obsessed with bodies and body images, so I took it seriously.    I admit, there was some mental preparation I was doing instinctively.  There was no question about what I would do.

I ordered an Angus, grass fed burger with sweet potato fries.  It was the first time I’d ever willingly substituted sweet potato fries for regular fries.  But like the other replacements I’ve been using, it has been easy to make that switch.  Sweet potato fries will never be like Belgian frites, but it will do, and it will do permanently.

I’d asked them to keep the bun, but they still served it to me, not because they wanted to sabotage my diligence, which could be the desire of some, such as grain worshiping vegans or shills for ConAgra, but because they were not in the habit.  I pushed the bun to the side.  I used to take the bun off but still eat it just because it was there.  I’m training myself otherwise.

I did write the owner the other day, “consider paleo!”  He wrote back saying he’d look into it.

I shared my experience with Crossfit with my colleague’s husband.  “Stamford?”

“Yes, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”  I gave the outline:  high intensity; bodyweights; pure exercises.  It’s not a gym, but more like a dojo.  It’s like a philosophy.  “It’s a cult,” I joked.

Let me be careful here.  I’m using this word in a very technical sense.  For most people “cults” are where there is a charismatic leader that leads people to kill themselves.  It’s pejorative.  But the more precise definition is, a cult is a religion that requires initiation and commitment.    Granted, there’s no worshiping, except for the ideal of a strong healthy body.  Still, in order to join, you need to be dedicated, and those who are more committed will be invited into learning more of the faith’s secrets.

It’s nothing like being an Episcopalian.  We’re like, “hey, come whenever.”  We don’t care.

Crossfit is “Look, if you really want to be strong, you have to go through the ritual.”  The ritual, in this case, is the WOD.    Crossfit asks, do you want to be like the all the lazy, unhealthy schlubs in the rest of the world who can’t save some one from a fire, pull themselves up from the edge of a cliff, or who can’t run from bears? Do you really want to be like that?  Really?    Well, that’s OK.  We’re for motivated people.

And I, padre old stone, want to be part of that.  I’m realizing it’s clearly not for everybody.

“You should join,” I said.  “It’s been great.”  He’s strong and a good athlete.

“I’ll go!  Take me.  It sounds like my kind of workout.”

“I  think you’ll need to get in touch with them yourself.”  It’s his journey.

The Restaurant

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Before seeing Sherlock Holmes, which was quite an enjoyable movie, we went to Legal Seafood.

They asked me if I had any allergies.  Thinking of this as an opportunity, I asked for the gluten free menu.  Plenty of options.

Legal Seafood, even though it is a chain, has excellent quality control.  Their wines are excellent – even though I didn’t have any last night – and I’ve always been satisfied by their appetizers.

I was intrigued by their fried calamari, fried in chick-pea flour, but as legumes are out, for now  we chose the tuna sashimi and the mussels as appetizers.   Chick pea flour is familiar to me:  its used in plenty of Indian dishes.

We shared one entree with two side dishes:  a medium rare tuna, baked potatoes and broccoli.  They were being generous with the baked potatoes.  I took the broccoli, which was cooked perfectly, without a taste of butter.  Fan took one potato.  I brought the other home for my brother.

The challenge was really saying no to wine.   A nice Sancerre would be appropriate.

Instead, I relished in my new found sense of self-control.