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Thanksgiving Recipe Notes

Thanksgiving is thankfully in our rearview mirror so now I can post some recipe reviews!

This holiday, I tried two recipes from Nom Nom Paleo: Cran-Cherry Sauce and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. Cranberry sauce never made it to my family’s Thanksgiving table but with the new extended family, I thought I ought to try my hand at this Thanksgiving classic. Michelle’s version omits the copious amounts of refined sugar and balances the tartness of cranberries with apple juice and cherries. I used fresh cranberries and ginger, frozen organic cherries, and organic unfiltered apple juice. Definitely use fresh ginger; the grated root adds a much-needed spicy note to this sweet-tart sauce and I found that I did not need to add honey for additional sweetness. I also added some grass-fed gelatin (a conservative 1/4 teaspoon) but unfortunately, I did not use enough to achieve the classic canned shape. Next time, I will add 1/2 teaspoon so the sauce will have more of a jelly-like consistency.

For the brussels sprouts recipe, I doubled the amount as I was cooking for twelve people. My oven runs hot so I reduced the temperature from 400 to 385 degrees Fahrenheit. I used olive oil as I ran out of ghee and splashed a little extra golden balsamic vinegar on the uncooked sprouts. Golden balsamic vinegar is lighter in color and tastes slightly sweeter than the regular dark brown balsamic; the golden vinegar also does not darken food so it is a good choice if you are concerned with presentation. I thought the sweeter flavor would be a nice contrast to the earthy sprouts and copious bacon. The sprouts & bacon came out perfectly right at 35 minutes and I drizzled some extra balsamic vinegar on the cooked sprouts. These were a hit on the Thanksgiving table and even managed to convert a few diehard haters into newly minted fans of the tiny cruciferous vegetables. This is a foolproof side dish that works great for everyday and special occasion holiday meals so definitely add this one to your recipes folder.

Did you try any new recipes for the Thanksgiving holiday? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

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Supernodes Within the Paleo Community

As a newcomer to the Paleo lifestyle and the blogger community, I rely on several different websites for information.  Three “supernode” blogs or websites I follow provide a wealth of reliable nutrition research and discussion: Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple, Chris Kesser, and the Weston A. Price Foundation.  Many of the other websites on my blogroll frequently reference one or more of these supernodes as their influence on the Paleo/Primal community is far-reaching.  All three websites consistently produce interesting, original topical content that provokes discussion and healthy debate within the community.  Their voices are well-respected, critical but moderate enough to engage people outside of the Paleo/Primal communities.  In particular, the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is not a definitive Paleo website but their health, nutrition, and diet research echoes many of the same sentiments, which makes it complimentary; the same can be said about Mark Sisson as the diet he advocates is known as Primal, which is very similar to Paleo (which is why I often use the terms in tandem).  Chris Kesser also follows a similar path by advocating a Paleo/Primal diet but he is also open to challenging some of the diet’s principles through research and his clinical practice.

So in the interest of learning more: what are some of the “supernode” blogs you follow (Paleo or not)?

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Fashion and food may seem like an unlikely pairing but the number of high-quality blogs that showcase both subjects is on the rise. Here is a special collaborative blog post between Kevin at Chic in the Sheets and Twinkle at Oh Twinkle that features two links from Hypebeast where the stylish and culinary pursuits often intersect:

Twinkle: Hypebeast predominantly focuses on streetwear rather than high-fashion so it makes sense that their food posts are geared towards everyday eats. They feature an interesting hybrid travel show and cultural documentary called Semipermanent. Semipermanent is a web series on Vimeo that is hosted by Erik Moynihan and Tiffany Needham. Each episode’s subject matter differs but all of them center around stories from expatriates living in Seoul, Korea. Hypebeast showcases the 3rd installment “Eat To Live” of the series which is about food. I enjoyed the insights about the dedication some Korean restaurants and food stalls have for fresh, high-quality, local and organic foods.

Now what does this have to do with Paleo? To be completely forthcoming: nearly all of the food showcased in this episode are non-compliant but there are definitely key Korean food staples that can work in a Primal/Paleo context: many of fermented and pickled kimchi; mussels in broth; bulgogi; and if you do allow for fermented soy, up opens the world of Korean stews and noodle soups. As you may tell from my previous blog posts, I am a fan of ethnic foods and would love to see more culinary variety in the Primal/Paleo world. However for the less adventurous, there are other tastes highlighted in the episode. You meet a Moroccan duo making delicious and unique Moorish sandwiches; an American tasting many different Chinese dishes in Daerim, a predominantly Chinese area in South Korea; and also a Korean street food cart serving up twists on the classic American hot dog. All in all, the overarching theme in this episode is how the culture shapes the “culinary terroir” of food and that is always interesting, no matter what type of diet or fashion you follow.

Kevin: Personalization is everything in a personal wardrobe/style. It is often times difficult to truly personalize one’s style, but I think HYPEBEAST as found a sure-fire way to help you out on the quest of personalization.

HYPEBEAST has endured as a site which delivers reliable fashion news. This site also as a great series which they call “Essentials”, which where they ask important figures in the world of fashion what items they use in their everyday lives. Our lives are in constant motion and it is consistently difficult to keep with personal style, especially, when the stress that accompanies everyday life is encumbering you. But as self-proclaimed connoisseurs of fashion, we perceiver and do our best to make certain that we are able to swell. There are certain items that will eventually become staples of your own personal style: watches, hats, wallets, bracelets, etc. These “Essentials” are indispensible and necessary in our everyday outfits.
It’s hard to stick out in the world of streetwear when everybody is striving to obtain the same brands and types of clothing you are. So these “Essentials” that HYPEBEAST posts is great reference to see how different people personalize their style and make their wardrobe unique to themselves. I know for a fact these “Essentials” post have paved a way to plethora of ideas for personalization. Hopefully the can do the same for you and anybody else on the journey of becoming a one-of-a-kind fashionable gentlemen.

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Where Does Your Pasture-Raised Meat Come From?

Primal, Paleo, ancestral diets – whatever you want to call it – all have many things in common including the belief that your animal-based protein should come from sources that allow the animal to feed in the manner that is biologically appropriate. Cows (and other animals like sheep, bison, and goats) are ruminants that naturally prefer to graze on grass and short roughage.

Because most average supermarkets predominantly stock meat originating from CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) factories that raise animals on feed grain (including corn, oats, barley, soy, and no grass), consumers looking to purchase organic pasture-raised meat would have to turn to local ranchers and farmers that offered true grass-fed beef, lamb, and bison, as well as pastured chicken and pork.

This champions the return to local, sustainable organic foods, which is attractive to many conscientious consumers and one of the primary reasons I converted to an ancestral diet. Over the years, I became more focused on the quality of the food I was consuming from both a nutritional and environmental perspective. I wanted food sourced from purveyors that were closer to me; I wanted to put a face and name to the food I was consuming more mindfully now. I needed to know that I could trust these sources as I was trying to correct years of damage from making poor food & lifestyle choices. Like many others in Dallas, I know that places like Urban AcresGreen Grocer and White Rock Local Market carry meat from local ranchers like Windy Meadows Farm  and Burgundy Pasture Beef. However like many people in general (especially busy students), my packed schedule demands convenience which is why I often end up grocery shopping at one of many Dallas locations of Central Market or Whole Foods Market instead of the aforementioned local markets. Luckily for me, both chains stock grass-fed beef in a variety of cuts that help make it a bit more affordable (e.g. grass-fed ground beef is always cheaper and more versatile than a grass-fed ribeye, but that I will cover in a separate post).

However, I was surprised to learn that most Grass-Fed Beef Sold In U.S. Comes From Australia , thanks to story on NPR’s All Things Considered. It makes sense that with the growing popularity of grass-fed beef that more grocery stores would need to find a steady large supply. Small local farmers in the United States contend with seasonal shifts (including some extensive droughts over the past two years) that make raising and selling grass-fed beef all year round somewhat difficult. Australia does not experience the same weather patterns and they have an abundance of cheap grassland for grazing cattle. Despite the fact that they are shipping it halfway across the world, it is still cheaper for supermarkets to source this Australian grass-fed beef than buy from a multitude of U.S.-based purveyors.

It is important to me to have high-quality, organic, pastured-raised meats but I also want to support local farmers to reduce my overall ecological “footprint” through carefully considered food decisions. This means that I will sometimes have to forgo convenience shopping in favor of meat purchased through the aforementioned local markets & co-operatives or buying directly from the farmers & ranchers themselves. The pros, which also often includes a cost-savings benefit, far outweigh the cons. I get to know the stories of the local purveyors and I am building a mutually beneficial relationship, one that will sustain me nutritionally and them (albeit in a tiny way) financially. Even some Whole Foods Markets are making the effort to stock meats from regional US farmers & ranchers; the grass-fed beef found in the Southwest regional stores (which includes Dallas) is sourced from Nitschke Natural Beef in Waurika, Oklahoma.  I am happy that WFM actually has a commitment to upholding their core values, which includes serving and supporting local communities, caring about the environment, and creating ongoing win-win partnerships with their suppliers. While Whole Foods Market only carries select cuts of grass-fed beef, it is a welcome start for consumers looking to take control of their health by learning more about their food sources and having a convenient option for better beef.

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