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Editing the Paleo Entry on Wikipedia

This week, I thought I would try my hand at editing some of the information found on the Paleolithic diet entry on Wikipedia. This is an actively edited page so I was confident that if someone did take issue with my editing, any edits would be swiftly removed and restored to its previous content. Admittedly, I am out of my depth scientifically and the definition of Paleo feels murky at times but I wanted to improve the clarity of a few sentences in the Practices section. 

Practices (the original text)

The Paleolithic diet consists of foods that can be hunted and fished, such as meat, offal, and seafood, and foods that can be gathered, such as eggs, insects, fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and spices.[2] The meats that are recommended to consume are preferred to be free of food additives, preferably wild game meats and grass-fed beef since they contain higher levels of omega-3 fats compared with grain-produced domestic meats.[2][53][57] Food groups that advocates claim were rarely or never consumed by humans before the Neolithic (agricultural) revolution are excluded from the diet, mainly grains, legumes (e.g. beans and peanuts), dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils.[2] Some advocates consider the use of oils with low omega-6/omega-3 ratios, such as olive and canola oils, to be healthy and advisable.[53]

I primarily focused on the first sentence, rewording it so that the relationship between meat and offal was more clear [“… such as meat (including offal) and seafood”] and re-ordered the “gathered” foods in order of most likely common consumpution (specifally moving insects towards the end of the list as that is not a primary food source for most Westerners following the Paleolithic diet) [“… such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, insects, herbs and spices”].  Through these small changes, I hope to make the concept of Paleo slightly more realistic (and therefore accessible to anyone seeking information on the diet). I also learned about the difference between herbs and spices (herbs are considered the leafy green parts of plants, whereas spices are commonly  dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetable substances). And here I thought I knew much about food! “The more you know… “*rainbow comet*

I hope this will serve as encouragement for those wanting to contribute to Wikipedia. I still have much to learn about the  Paleodiet and while I continue to diversify my research resources, Wikipedia will remain as one of my top sources.

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Something stinks… and it’s this week’s Tasty Treats:

Bone broth is a cornerstone of Paleo/Primal cooking as it is used in many different savory recipes or consumed with little embellishment as savory “healing” drink. Oh Hello Paleo talks about the surprisingly unpleasant result of making bone broth at home. But don’t let that smelly surprise deter you from making your own bone broth; with the holidays coming up, bone broth is an excellent culinary workhorse to have in your cooking arsenal (OHP uses it to great effect in a homemade beef stew).

Continuing down this smelly path of Primal/Paleo essentials, how about rendering tallow or lard? If you’ve familiarized yourself with Paleo, you know that the most people use almost every part of the animal, including the fat. Lard (pig) and tallow (cow) are excellent cooking fats but it can be difficult to find both from pasture-raised sources. The Paleo Parents posted a helpful guide to rendering suet into tallow. You may end up with more fat than you know what to do with… and interestingly enough, you can turn it into a beauty balm! This Paleo Life has an excellent DIY recipe for beef tallow skin lotion. I haven’t tried it yet but I am a sucker for all-natural beauty products, and what could be more primal than slathering your body with animal fat?

Thanks for your continued reading!

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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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Suddenly my sad scrambled eggs and sautéed broccoli “brinner” is looking even more pathetic after seeing Homegrown Paleo‘s Facebook post of the Fried Chicken Livers from Melissa Joulwan‘s newest cookbook Well Fed 2. Chicken liver is chock full of nutrients like iron, choline, and Vitamins A, B6 and B12, D, and K2… but nutrition aside, what Southerner can resist delicious fried chicken livers?!

Homegrown Paleo - Chicken Livers from Well Fed 2

The recipe is published in the paperback cookbook, which is available in stores nationwide and online. Now if you will pardon me, I need to wipe the drool off my keyboard and add chicken livers to my shopping list.

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Advocate

A Hairy Situation

On the Balanced Bites podcast episode 108 presented by Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe, a reader submitted a question regarding the potential link between Paleo and thinning hair:

“I’ve been doing Paleo for about 10 months now [….] I’ve noticed that since I’ve started Paleo, my hair has gotten significantly thinner. Do you know if this is a normal occurrence for people doing Paleo? I used to eat a significant amount of dairy and grains, etc. Any advice would be helpful.”

Liz started by addressing that the relationship between Paleo and thinning hair was “not normal, but it is something that [they have] heard people say with interesting frequency.” That piqued my interest as I had been struggling with thinning hair over the last year and it was an issue that popped up frequently on various Paleo/Primal forums. I made the switch to Paleo three months ago and found that the diet alleviated some scalp issues but appeared to accelerate my hair shedding.

Liz made some suggestions on digestion but Diane brought up an interesting point about how some people fall into a low-carb trap:

“If you accidentally go low-carb because you switched to a Paleo diet, and you forget that you were getting, not only a whole spectrum of nutrients from food that had more carbohydrates […] I mean starches in general, whether its carbohydrates or just getting some more B vitamins, vitamin C, remembering to up your intake of those foods when you make the switch, because a lot of people do move to sort of chicken, broccoli, and coconut oil, or they do a lot of protein and fat and forget about carbs, and you know, it doesn’t mean that your body can’t do fine without a lot of carbohydrates.”

What she means is that Paleo followers can often fall into a low-carb trap where they make solid choices for animal protein, vegetables and good fats (“chicken, broccoli, and coconut oil”) but accidentally cut out all carbohydrates, both good and bad. They forget to add back nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources (“a whole spectrum of nutrients… more B vitamins, vitamin C”), leaving the body lacking in nutrition in many ways. A low-carbohydrate diet can sometimes lead to a variety of issues, of which includes thinning hair.

I recalled that I had similar issues several years ago when my now-ex pressed me to convert the Atkins diet on & off for a period between two to three years. The carbohydrate restrictions on the Atkins diet were excessive — some periods would limit the intake to 20g or less per day. Eventually, I wised up, ditched the guy and regained my health & sanity, but my previously thick head of hair never really fully recovered after that disastrous run. Could adding back nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources be my key to regaining my former crowning glory?

Fresh vegetables by Lars P @ Flickr

Fresh vegetables – CC licensed by Lars P @ Flickr

Maybe, or maybe not. After all, thinning hair can be brought on by multiple underlying issues (diet, physical damage, stress, hormonal imbalance, thyroid disorders et cetera), which makes it hard to zero in a cureall. However, I (like many Paleo newcomers) was already guilty of being too restrictive with my carbohydrates and needed to up my daily consumption from <50g to 75-100g. I started adding in more carrots, sweet potatoes and Japanese yams, berries, apples, and even bananas (previously a banana-hater). With autumn in full swing, I am now including some red-skinned new potatoes and starchy carb-dense seasonal squashes like butternut, acorn, spaghetti and kabocha. Diane at Balanced Bites posted a helpful nutrient-dense carbohydrate guide from her book Practical Paleo that makes meal-planning somewhat easier for the carb-challenged. The added variety of vegetables and fruits definitely helped me to get out of the greens-only ruts and added much welcome color to all my meals. I am also trying to correct potential nutrient deficiencies through better food choices and my favorite reference is World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Nutrients Guide. I much prefer getting my nutrients through whole foods rather than solely relying on isolated supplements.

This is a complex situation that will take months, maybe even years, to remedy but getting past the ghost of my carb-restrictive past is a step in the right direction for my overall health (and not just the hair on my head)!

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A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the origins of most the grass-fed beef found in U.S. markets so it seems timely to visit the recent salmonella outbreak traced back to Foster Farms chicken products (via Storify). If there wasn’t a more compelling argument to buy your organic pasture-raised poultry from a local source, I don’t know what is.

If you can’t source your clean poultry locally, there is always U.S. Wellness Meats. With autumn finally making its way to North Texas, how about a comforting bowl of chicken soup made with their free-range chicken? Perfect for all skill levels and palates; use ghee in place of butter to make it Paleo compliant.

Thanks for your continued reading!

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Advocate

“You put WHAT in WHAT for Breakfast?!”

“Breakfast: the most important meal of the day.”

How often have you heard that old adage? How many of you subscribe to that belief? And how many of you often skip it due to time/schedule issues? Breakfast has always been a struggle for me as most traditional breakfast foods are often my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong: I will eat eggs Benedict (minus the English muffin), sweet potato hash and crispy bacon with great enthusiasm but who has time for that every morning? During the week, I have a challenging schedule between working a full-time job and going to school full time in late afternoon through evening; often times, I also have to go back to work after school. This makes my “free” time and sleep schedule fairly restrictive so I do not have much leeway to make a hot savory breakfast and I am not much for cold breakfasts during the autumn and winter months. Since transitioning to a Primal/Paleo diet, breakfast is made even more difficult as typical convenience foods like cereals are not allowed (besides, they don’t give you much energy and you’re left hungry after a few hours anyway).

I struggled for the first few months, eating hardboiled eggs and a handful of nuts here and there but feeling mostly unsatisfied and somewhat lacking in the energy department despite following a fairly rigid Paleo protocol. I drank loads of green tea but that did not give me the boost I truly needed to get through the late afternoon into the evening. I did not want to resort to disgusting energy drinks so I scoured the internet for ideas and happened upon Bulletproof Coffee. My immediate reaction was of disgust (“BUTTER and OIL in your coffee?!”), disappointment (every time I tried to drink coffee, it only made me jittery and nervous; I couldn’t handle the caffeine), and followed by wariness (a lot of branded merchandise). However after reading through all the comments and considering how I was having some morning energy success with a tablespoon or two of coconut oil for breakfast, I felt like experimenting.

Crates upon crates of coffee beans by Rob Taylor / britsinvade @ Flickr

Crates upon crates of coffee beans – all waiting to be ground and brewed – CC licensed by Rob Taylor @ Flickr

I did not have much to lose though as there is always coffee and Kerrygold butter in the house; the science behind MCT oil made sense to me as someone who regularly consumes coconut oil as a supplement and also previously tried a ketogenic diet. If the Bulletproof experiment turned out to be a dud, at least I could continue using the oil in other applications. Admittedly, I was very nervous because coffee often left me so anxious that it was more counterproductive to consume if I actually needed to do work (and my job requires an immense amount of concentration and focus). It was also an obscene amount of saturated fat on top of what I was already consuming throughout the day but down the rabbit hole I went.

And IT WORKED!

On only five hours of sleep (terrible, I know), I felt bright and energized. I was able to focus on all of my work tasks without feeling scattered or having my attention divided by distractions. There were no caffeine jitters, no horrible energy crashes, and strangely enough, no hunger pains. The hunger suppression was a bit inconvenient rolling into my school hours because my appetite would return right in the middle of classes, which is not the ideal place to eat a full meal. This is the only way I can consume coffee; without the butter & MCT oil, the nervous energy and jitters come roaring back and I’m Miss Milk Toast Wobbly Legs for the rest of day before crashing suddenly in the afternoon.

There are many that do not consider dairy to be Paleo but it is allowed on the Primal protocol. Stupid Easy Paleo offers up a wonderful recipe guide to Bulletproof Coffee that outlines the science, how-tos, and why some might relax their restrictions on dairy in the Paleo context. If you are curious, here are the products I use:

  1. Whole Foods “Three Beans Coffee” Medium Roast. This coffee is 100% Arabica beans and described as “sweet & smooth”; it comes as whole bean and you can grind it in-store. This roast works well for both cold press & hot brewing. It isn’t organic single-origin, wet-processed, mycotoxin-free coffee but it’s super affordable and works for me.
  2. NOW Foods 100% MCT oil. I’ve even started incorporating this as an unflavored oil component in unheated cooking applications.
  3. Kalona Unsalted Organic Grass-Fed Butter. Kerrygold is more affordable but after finding out that they use some GMO feed, I made the switch to Kalona.
  4. Pro-tip: If you are using a French press, don’t forget to filter your coffee through paper or fine-mesh steel as coffee contains the oil-like diterpenes cafestol and kahweol which when consumed in unfiltered coffee can actually raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Yes, I get weird looks (and the comments, oh geez…) when people see what goes into my coffee mug but I just smile and say, “Butter is the best way to start the day.” Honestly, who could argue against that? I know Andy Dwyer would not

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