Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Movin' on over...

to superpaleokids, b/c apparently I was not the first to think of "not quite paleo" and I feel kind of stupid using the same title as a guy who has been writing about his own paleo eating for several months longer than than I have. I find I am more specifically focused on the kid's nutrition anyway, so this should work out.

See you there!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I can make anything my Krispy Kreme

and that's not good.  :-/
I have been eating really "clean" lately, yet I've been overeating and snacking and generally not doing too well with the whole fat loss regimen. Apparently I can make anything my Krispy Kreme. Blueberries? Bingo. Sweet potato? Yup. Almonds? Yeah, but actually not unless I'm eating with something like blueberries, so I guess that's only a sometimes binge.
Why does this have to suck so much? Oh yeah, right, because I spent the formative years of my metabolism fucking it up with highly refined carbs and lots of 'em.

I think I need to get back to basics and limit my diet to protein, fat, and very, very minimal fruit/veg. Or, perhaps even better, stick with non starchy veg that I don't like that much so I fill up on friggen green beans or spinach and avoid, y'know, diving into that bag of terra chips.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lengua Tacos

Well, ok, not actually tacos, but the best taco filling from the taco bus that we so love and cherish. We've asked if they would just sell us the filling in a dish so we can still eat in the fabulous bus lot from time to time, but they wouldn't, so I set about figuring out how t make our own tongue recipe.

I never tried cooking tongue before now, it was pretty daunting to be honest since I didn't grow up eating it and had no idea what it was supposed to be like other than the taco bus stuff. (plus it looks pretty gnarly just sitting there at the store...) So I got a general idea from various internet searches describing tradition lengua recipes from Mexico and went from there. Most recipes suggest a crockpot but I prefer my enameled cast iron dutch oven and just threw in a chopped bell pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt & pepper. Then set the whole raw tongue in with all of that and cover with water. Put it on the stove over high heat and get the water simmering, put lid on and let it sit over low-med heat to continue simmering while the oven preheats to 275 degrees.

When the oven is preheated put the pot in and leave it there for a few hours. After braising for some time the scent of cilantro and onions should force you to peek in at the concoction. If this is the first time you have tried this you may pull a horrified face at the oily greenish stew with an entire (enormous) tongue sitting in the middle of it, but fear not! Take the pot out of the oven and let it cool. (turn off the oven at this point as well...) When the tongue is cool, put it on a cutting board and brandish your favorite paring knife. Peel the rough outer layer of skin, and remove as much of the fairly icky fatty gristle bits from the base of the tongue as you wish. (I scrapped it all, the dogs had a feast.) Slice the pristine tender muscle meat that is left into several strips lengthwise, and then dice it by cutting the strips into bits.

Mix the diced tongue with some chopped sweet onion, cilantro, and the juice of a lime. (You could cut the lime into quarters and toss that in as well) Add enough stock or bone broth to make the whole thing fairly moist but not watery.  I had some good chicken stock that had been boiled down earlier in the day to almost a syrup, but whatever stock you have would be ok here, the other seasoning will take precedence. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper, adjust if necessary, and voila!

James and the kids did eat this with corn tortillas, but I love it just as a cold salad in a dish. If you want to serve it hot just heat the meat and stock together before adding the cilantro, lime and onion.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Magnesium Bicarbonate Water

I've always had a bit a of trouble maintaining even minimal mineral levels, such that when I was a kid during the (very very hot) summers in southern Spain, I would habitually get to be in so much muscle pain that I would be relegated to a wheelchair or have to use a cane when my ankles inevitable gave out. Of course, nobody really knew what was causing this, but since it was always spurred by hot weather everyone assumed I just needed salt, and I was forced to drink cupfuls of horrible table salt infused tap water. I do continue to like and need salt on food (at least, I find it palatable at higher levels than the hubs, and felt less well overall when I cut it out on an experimental basis) so I keep it in our diet by using sea salt with most meals. I'd like to give Redmond's Real Salt a try, but we have to finish our current container of sea salt first. I really feel like it is a bad direction the way everyone is jumping on the anti salt bandwagon, looks a lot like low-fat did a couple of decades ago...

I have been wondering what other minerals I would do well to consume more of and in what quantities/ratios. Obviously calcium is important for pregnancy and nursing, which I have been doing for 5 years straight so far, and it is showing in my teeth. I eat canned whole sardines and oysters which have calcium, but maybe not enough? Calcium is not absorbed properly from many sources and it is crucial to have enough magnesium with it for it to be used in bones rather than scatter throughout the body haphazardly and leave deposits.

Anyway, since calcium and magnesium are the big ones I have the most immediate need of (as far as I know) I looked into supplements, but found that most magnesium tablets are not well absorbed and are pretty much a waste of money. There are some promising bone meal calcium pills that I might pick up, but they are a bit pricey, and quite frankly taking huge handfuls of supplements all the time gets old fast. The best bet for magnesium seems to be transdermal through magnesium oil for example, and also in water as magnesium bicarbonate which leads me (finally) to the main topic of this post.

I have the philosophy in general of "leave it alone" and avoid dicking with or otherwise interfering with natural processes, but if I can engineer the situation/intake/etc to more closely approximate the natural conditions my body evolved to handle without risking collateral damage I will go with it. For example, it is generally accepted that most people are pretty deficient in vitamin D, especially since heeding the advice to avoid sun exposure, etc. I feel very comfortable taking a much larger dose of vit. D than the label suggests b/c I am pretty sure it will help, and at least the amount I take will not harm me. (I'm not talking super megadoses, just 5000 iu or so, if I were to go significantly higher I would get a blood test to double check that my levels indicated the need) Likewise with magnesium, it isn't going to hurt you, eg, if you take too much your body will excrete it and you will remember not to take so much again! However if you are deficient you can have all kinds of problems that could really make you miserable.

Anyway, the theory is that there were much higher mineral levels in the soil (and thus water) back in paleo days, and people swear by the healing properties of ancient mineral baths or springs with uber high levels, so why not just make your own? It's hella cheaper than buying cases of water from California or traveling to the Baltics every year. Plus, you can be really specific as to the concentration and variety of minerals in the water. (and taste, btw) I have been using the "recipe" from affibers.org (I guess they are a group dedicated to atrial fibrillation sufferers, a muscle spasm of sorts btw, often helped by correcting your magnesium levels!) which is:

3 Tablespoons (45 ml) plain milk of magnesia, active ingredient should say magnesium hydroxide [Mg (OH)2] (I don't use Phillips brand but that is a standard that would work)

1 liter plain seltzer water (cases from cash 'n carry are pretty affordable) get it cold by leaving in the fridge overnight

open the seltzer w/out agitating, you want to keep as much fizz in as possible, and pour in the milk of magnesia. Close the bottle tightly and shake it up. let it sit fir a few minutes until the water looks clear and the sides may have caved in (no longer bubbly). If there is any residue at the bottom just shake it up again and let it sit, I've never had any residue remain after 2 shake ups. Keep it in the fridge and dole it out into whatever containers you prefer to drink/carry water in. The 1 liter seltzer bottle of concentrated magnesium bicarbonate will dilute into 12 liters of drinking water. Or, you can do as I do and just keep a measuring cup near the fridge to pour 1/3 cup of the concentrate into an empty 1 liter water bottle and fill it up the rest of the way from the fridge filter. Repeat as necessary, and make a new bottle of concentrate when you run out.

I really like the taste of our homemade mineral water, but if you don't you can add a squeeze of lemon (will alter the ph of the slightly basic water) or even try a minute bit of salt. (I'm interested in trying the Redmond's as I mentioned, but also black lava salt sounds interesting)

I have read that one way of checking if you need more magnesium is to check the ph of your urine, if it is 5 or lower you are in trouble, and theoretically drinking the magnesium bicarbonate water will lessen the acidity (which can cause calcium to leach from your bones, etc, etc...) and can be checked by subsequent urine tests. I'm not really worried about the ph level quite frankly b/c if it was highly acidic I would expect it to be lessened by the mineral water, and if it wasn't whats the harm in drinking it anyway? I think that any step you take in changing your diet or lifestyle should be predicated by research and consideration, so even if you don't buy in to all the snake oil sounding claims of a certain supplement or diet, is it what you are physically able to process in a healthy way? I mean, maybe fish oil (for example) will turn out not to be the magic nutrient it appears to be, but even so, are you harming yourself by eating fish several times a week? (don't start on the mercury levels, they are negligible in stuff like sardines...)

The greatest benefit I have found since starting the mineral water routine (well, if I'm honest, only benefit, other than enjoying the taste) has been a bit surprising. Baby Ben has had some symptoms of reflux in the past and recently was having extremely acidic pee, but I was at a loss as to anything I could do about it. I've already cut out all dairy and grains, almost all soy (save the small splash of soy sauce every few weeks to season pork) and legumes, most fruit, and I just don't eat much other than meat, fish, apples, blueberries and coconut, so what to do? This is exactly what happened with my older 2 at the same age as well, and I always figured it was something I was eating (it seemed to correlate with eating bell peppers with my middle child and tropical fruit with the oldest) and all I could do was comfort them  and change diapers quickly. I remember even getting burns on my nipples from breastfeeding through this with my middle child who seemed to have it the worst. Her breath smelled like vinegar it was so bad. The various pediatricians never had anything much to say, and I couldn't find anything else to try after massive food elimination. The older 2 grew out of it by age 1 or so, and it just seemed like a typical miserable few months of colic/teething/who knows why fussy baby.

Anyway, within hours of finishing a cup or two of the first batch, Ben was happy. No vinegar breath, the pee burns on his bottom cleared up the next day, and he's been great the past 2 weeks. Even the really very bad heat rash (or so we thought) under his neck fat (yes, he is adorably chubby...) disappeared. Keep in mind that it has been much hotter this week than it was when he had the razor burn looking rash, and I suspect it was the acid in his saliva that was soaking his chin and neck since he started teething. Mind you, he is still teething, so it's not all sunshine and rainbows over here, but the change was startling and remarkable. I wonder if my breastmilk was deficient in magnesium previously and that led him to have too low a ph of saliva and urine? I have even been feeling kind of shitty about my middle child breaking her elbow when she was just over a year old, if she had been getting optimally mineralized breastmilk would her bones have been stronger? I remind myself that all along I have been doing the best I knew how to, I didn't know what I didn't know about vitamin and mineral deficiencies a couple of years ago. This is going to be an ongoing process obviously.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grilled Wild Salmon and Simple Scapes

We found wild sockeye salmon on sale recently that was already filleted and boned. How's that for fast food? I've had this fancy schmancy fish grilling accessory from Williams Sonoma for several years and never really used it, so I was quite excited to finally give it a work out. (luckily I have another fillet in the fridge for tonight! We have done more fish on the grill in the past month than in the previous 5 years on the east coast, woot west coast living!) We had some limes but no lemons, and I must admit I was a bit wary of using them as I usually do lemons, but good lord they were awesome. Somwhow the "lime-ness" was just perfect to offset the briny saltiness of the skin. mmm. right, right, anyway, the whole proposition takes hardly any time at all and even less effort. Get the grill pre-heating, you want it roaring hot for this one. Lay the fillet skin side down in your fish "cage" if you have one, (if not I bet you would get good results from tying the herbs and citrus on with kitchen twine, or just marinade the fish and leave them off for the actual grilling) and squeeze a halved lime over it. Drizzle with olive oil as well. Then slice the lime into pieces and lay them along the top of the fish. Strategically fling a few sprigs of rosemary and dill in between the pieces of lime, and sprinkle sea salt and black pepper over the whole mess. Close the cage, flip, and get some olive oil, salt & pepper on the skin as well. (if the scales have not been removed, do it yourself, it's well worth it!)

By now the grill should be plenty hot, just put the fish on, skin side down for a few minutes, flip it over when parts of the skin look crisp and browned. (it won't be uniform, but when a fair portion of the skin looks like this you can bet it will be damn good when it's done) I took it off when bits of the lime and herbs just barely began to char and the flesh came out to be perfectly done. I'm not sure exactly how many minutes I left it on each side, but going by appearance and smell did the trick. I will double check tonight when we do the second fillet.

The skin was crackling good, the flesh was perfectly briny with hints of herb, and the lime had had the perfect acidity and flavor for enhancing the fish as well as the scapes. (I never would have thought to squeeze a lime over warm scapes before last night, but I will in the future!) The scapes were the very last of the season, we won't be seeing more until next year sadly. I think I've been holding on to them too long in the fridge as well in my futile attempt to make them last longer into the summer. Some of the tips had dried and yellowed, to the point where they were a bit tough even after cooking which was disappointing. Anyway, it is probably for the best that they are seasonal as I found myself overeating a bit and not digesting as well as one might hope. Though it may have been a but windy here, (you might think I had gotten into some dairy or something!) it appears that none of what I have been eating bothers baby Ben! This is a huge breakthrough since it seems like so many things negatively affected him when I had a larger meal repertoire. He even had a record "happy playing by himself"  time this morning while I prepared an avocado and "cereal" (coconut milk with chopped almonds, macadamias & blueberries)  for Maggie & Sophia's breakfast. (Ben "playing by himself"=laying around cooing, gurgling, grabbing toes and so forth)

Right, so to prepare the scapes I got a large frying pan quite hot with a good wodge of olive oil in it, (maybe 1/3 cup?) and tossed in half a can of anchovies (They were leftover from a can I opened last week, frozen in a ziplock bag for convenience) and the whole mess of previously 'washed, dried, and cut into manageable pieces' scapes. Stir around for a minute so everything gets well coated in oil, the cover and walk away. Seriously, leave it alone. You will never achieve the rich deep brown of caramelized vegetable if you keep fiddling with things  while you cook! After a few minutes you may lift the lid (everything will suddenly by vibrant green) and give a stir so as to give other surfaces a chance to get to the bottom of the pan to brown. Put the lid back on, and leave it alone again. Do this a few times, and you will have delicious, browned crispy on the edges/creamy on the inside garlic scapes perfect for serving with a squeeze of lime and grilled fish, or really, any other protein of your choice. Note that I did not season the scapes other than the half can of anchovies, any additional salt would have been too much, and obviously they did not need extraneous garlic or other of my "usual" seasonings.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fillipino style pork kababs

Had some pork (shoulder) to use over the weekend so threw it in a gallon ziplock bag (after cutting it into roughly 1 inch chunks) with a squirt of ketchup (tomato paste would be preferable) some lemon juice, soy sauce (really non paleo, no equivalent really, maybe sesame oil?) and a pinch of brown sugar and plenty of garlic. After a couple of days there was a fair bit of liquid in the bag which I tossed, and threaded the pork chunks onto my very cool skewers (flat metal, conducts heat, prevents meat slippage) and tossed on the preheated (high) grill. After frequent turning for 15-20 minutes we achieved perfect crispy fat w/cooked through seasoned pork. Nom. Nom. Nom.

Served w/leftover anchovy sauteed green beens, but I didn't feel like eating any. I ate a hot dog on the side, and the kids mostly ate hot dogs and green bean plus raw sliced peppers, but found they really really like the pork as well . (particularly the "crunchy" parts) James of course would have no part of it. How did I end up married to such a food wuss?! I should take that back I guess, the issue for him is really textures, not the conceptual origins of the food. Wish he would get over his fat/meat thing though!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Paleo "Cereal"

We usually eat eggs for breakfast around here, but sometimes you want a change, plus the kids always want to have unusual treats like Daddy eats (non-paleo dude who keeps crunchy oat o's in the cabinet for himself) so we gave this a try the other day and it was a huge hit.

Roughly chop a handful of raw almonds (well, as raw as you can get, which is getting more and more difficult what with all the regulation requiring pasteurization and irradiating food in warehouses) an equal or slightly smaller amount of roasted salted macadamias (the roasted salted flavor really enhances the other ingredients, it's like the savory flakes in a fruit cereal or something) and a handful of fresh blueberries. Pour coconut milk over just to cover (note: shake your container of milk well, this is not the time for oily chunky coconut goop), and there you go, coconut fruit nut crunch "cereal". I assume it would be equally good with some chopped strawberries but we don't have any to try it with, (The season was very bad for strawberries here, too much rain to pollinate or some such thing) and possibly frozen fruit as well. You might even find it good sans fruit if you are really watching the fructose.

I have not calculated out exactly what the per/bowl cost of this cereal is but it doesn't seem too exorbitant since we get the almonds and macadamias @ Costco and the coconut milk in a giant can from cash 'n carry, and pick the blueberries ourselves for $1.50/lb.