A Paleo Conversation : From CST to PST, a bi-regional take on living paleo.
  • All in the Paleo Family

    Mojo Jo-Jo-

    I’ve been slow to get a new post up as we have just returned from a trip to Northern California to visit family. My grandmother turned 100 years old this year and we feted her with a high-end cocktail party. Thank goodness for a convenient Whole Foods in Sacramento, as you know the perils of travel and maintaining a paleoesque diet.

    One of the greatest aspects to the trip, besides visiting with my grandmother, was reconnecting with two of my cousins. Ryan, the kids, and I spent one morning with my cousin Emily and her two daughters down on the banks of the American River. Emily, a self-described “ex-vegan and vegetarian, now conscious carnivore,” is the blog author of Recipes to Nourish, a gorgeous blog that features primal and Paleo recipes. Please spend some time perusing her stellar site!

    My other cousin, Jack, has a very curious profession.  Hands down one of the cleverest people I have ever known, Jack is a former Army Ranger and martial arts fanatic who started a gunsmithing business called Into the Breech. We spent our final afternoon in Sac with him and his wife Megan (affectionately called Meeps). Wanting to revolutionize their diets and see the benefits of their daily exercise, they were exceptionally interested in learning about a low carb, Paleo diet. We began our regular proselytizing and turned them on to a couple of big name paleo websites: Mark’s Daily Apple, Nom Nom Paleo, and PaleOMG. The following day, they rushed off to the bookstore and surprised me with a texted photo of their new purchases, Julie Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook, The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook and The Bulletproof Diet Cookbook. This entire week has been a text-fest of photographs, back and forth, of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from our mutual kitchens.

    Here’s a few from my kitchen this week…

    Egg scramble with Italian sausage
    Italian sausage with homemade sauerkraut, paleo ketchup and dijon mustard.


    Baby back ribs with a mixed berry compote and sweet potato fries
    Baby back ribs with a mixed berry compote and sweet potato fries.


    Fried eggs with Cholula, avocado, sausage, and raspberries
    Fried eggs with Cholula, avocado, sausage, and raspberries. Coffee with coconut cream.


    Chorizo and sweet potato enchiladas
    Chorizo and sweet potato enchiladas

    Chicken nuggets with almond/coconut flour and sweet potato fries

    Buffalo chicken meatballs with paleo bleu cheese and roasted carrots. And Stuart.


    Taco salad with ground beef topped with an avocado-lime-jalapeno dressing. I added a spare buffalo chicken meatball and a plastic turtle for garnish.


    Veggie egg scramble with avocado, uncured bacon, and more Cholula

    Veggie egg scramble with avocado, uncured bacon, and more Cholula

    I just touched base with Jack last night and he said that he had been “hard core Paleo” for two weeks straight. He and his wife cleaned out their pantry and said good-bye to the Ranch Fritos and Blazing Hot Cheetos.  He said it wasn’t as hard as he thought.  Last night, a piece of pizza tried to beckon him to the dark side while at Whole Foods, like the sirens to Odysseus.  My guess is that he had his wife tie him to the grocery cart while she stuffed her ears with beeswax to escape…


  • The Spice of Life

    J- I’m excited for Baby SCOBY to arrive to Redlands, so thanks for the Resurrection post. I’ve been rereading Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation for all kinds of ideas about foods to ferment and ways to incorporate probiotics into my daily diet. I think I recall telling you how I once sent him fan mail and then a few months later I had a dream where he considered me one of his best friends…I’m hoping in some way that I might be slightly clairvoyant.

    Anyway, buried deep in the chapter entitled “Fermenting Vegetables (and Some Fruits Too),” he talks about how he discovered cultured cabbage juice in the 1990s. He had been developing an interest in fermentation in hopes of reversing the immune dysfunction that the HIV virus had been causing both in him and other friends. A short paragraph follows about kaanji, what he calls “a delicious spicy Punjabi beverage made by fermenting carrots and mustard seeds in water and salt.” The traditional recipe calls for burgundy/red/black carrots and gives this glorious hue to the mustardy concoction.  I felt slightly obsessed by the recipe and felt determined to figure out more about the history of this beverage.

    This led me to this lovely blog by an Indian gal living in Las Vegas (my home town) called sinfullyspicy.com. The author is named Tanvi and calls herself a “writer, cook, photographer, and spice lover.” I just adore her. She has a post about kaanji that is both delightful and informative. As a spice lover, her recipe includes a whole host of exotic spices that I had never heard of.

    So, here’s what I did. First, I dredged up some of the spices that I bought during a mission trip I took to Bangladesh back in 2009. Then, I found a local store (incidentally owned by a Bangladeshi) and picked up a few of the other previously unknown spices. I couldn’t find the burgundy carrots, so I substituted beets for color and flavor.


    We peeled and chopped up the carrots and beets. I’m not sure you need to peel them because that is where a lot of the aerobic bacteria live.


    For every carrot I cut up, Henry ate at least half of each one.  I ended up with 6 carrots and two beets.

             IMG_2374    IMG_2376


    We tossed everything into an open air glass container, added in the spices, and then poured in water that we had dissolved sea salt in.  I used sinfullyspicy’s basic recipe and spice list, except for the fenugreek (because I forgot to buy it).


    Kaanji ferment, aka Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O’Toole)- strikingly similar in appearance

    I left it covered with the headdress to prevent flies from getting in and we waited about 7 days. It started to bubble and emit a spicy aroma.  It wasn’t funky like the sauerkraut that’s percolating on my counter, but a pleasant and curious scent. I made sure to stir it up every day just to rotate some of the floating spices.

    While waiting for the final product, I thumbed through some of my pictures from when I was in Bangladesh. Although India (where kaanji hails from) and Bangladesh are really two strikingly different countries, I still thought a lot about my trip. Many of the spices used are ubiquitous in both nations. Here are a few pictures that I thought you’d enjoy.


    Morning sun over one of the many rice paddies



    Me and many children from Madaripur


    My colleagues and me in front of the hospital in Dumki, Bangladesh. Over 90% of the country is Muslim, but there are these little foci throughout the country where you would find Christians.  Dumki was one such place. The locals in town used to laugh at me because they thought that I looked like Jesus. I guess the height and long curly hair threw them for a loop.


    Here I am with the only OB/Gyn for the hospital (and probably for a 100-mile radius) performing a C-section

    Okay, I digress. Back to kaanji.


    After a good week, I think the ferment was just right. I had a glass last night. The flavor is like an aromatic beet kvass. I would say a 4-ounce glass is probably just right for drinking every night. I had a good 8-ounces as I reminisced over my time in Bangladesh and how great Peter O’Toole was in Lawrence of Arabia, all while listening to Bob Marley…

    Lots of love from Redlands. Say hi to all your boys!


  • An Oxtail of Two Cities

    Jo-Jo…Were we crazy to think that we could keep up this bi-coastal blogging…having both had new babies last year…and going back to working more than full-time? Not to mention that our family moved to California, lived in a rental house, then a hotel-motel, and now a more permanent domicile… Crazy, not really.  Ambitious…a little. Perhaps we needed to take too much on our plates before we figured out what to put back and what to eat?

    Well, it’s 2016 and I’m reinvigorated to do a little scribbling, a little gardening, a little cooking and a whole bunch of FERMENTING! More on that later.

    Here’s what was on the docket for the first weekend of the year.


    A big batch of bone broth made with beef knuckles and oxtail.  It’s funny.  Oxtail soup sounds so Bon Appetit, so Saveur. The reality is that it is very common soup made in Indonesia (sop buntut), China, and in the UK. And it’s made with the leftover parts of the cow, literally the tails. And we’re not using the tail of an exotic species…oxtail is just cow tail. Legit snout to tail cuisine.

    Here’s the recipe in bulletpoints:

    -In a crockpot, add:

    -Roughly chopped up yellow onions, carrots, and celery.

    -Two bay leaves.

    -A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Helps with the demineralization of the bones.

    -About 3-4 lbs. of bones. Beef knuckles, oxtail, chicken bones/feet, ham bones.  Whatever you want and whatever you have.

    -Water to cover the contents. Salt and pepper.

    Now, slow cook it on low for 12-24 hours. You choose how long you want to cook it. Taste it after awhile and decide when it’s ready.

    A few considerations…

    -Make sure to check your water level. I woke up this morning and there had been a fair amount of evaporation. I added another 4 cups of water.

    -Turn the crockpot down to keep warm instead of low after 8 hours or so. It will still be bubbling and will evaporate less quickly.


    I’m waiting for it to cool down. Then I’ll put it into Mason jars. The plan is to freeze some and keep some in the refrigerator. The second part of the plan is to start drinking it on a regular basis. I think I could use a good dose of iron and collagen as a daily supplement.

    Maybe a piping hot cup in the morning…perfect for dunking a Paleo doughnut?


    Yours truly,


  • Balance

    Jo-Jo, sorry that is has taken me so long to respond to your most recent post. I can just imagine making that drive from Stillwater to Minneapolis.  For the most part, I enjoyed those miles driving into work as it was the only quiet time I had for reflection. I never listened to books on tape, but I wished I had. I drove so much back in the day that I could have made my way through volumes of text.  Instead, I chose to flip between NPR and the classic rock station.  I knew it was going to be a good day when they played Led Zepplin back-to-back or a favorite Stones song.  Lately, I have been having some Pink Floyd kind of days. Perfect music for introspection.


    Is there anybody in there?

    Just nod if you can hear me.

    Is there anyone at home?


    Although I’m not “Comfortably Numb,” I have been finding comfort in the small moments of the day.  I haven’t been putting up many posts, but I have been thinking about things in life and how they relate to our blog’s purpose. In between ramping up my surgical practice, selling and buying a house, trying to make quality time for Henry, Bea, and Ryan, I have made time for little else. That’s what got me thinking about the concept of balance.


    Actually, what really got me thinking about balance was a recent walk we took across the street to the park. There was a young man who had strung up between two trees a very taut bungee-type rope and proceeded to walk across it like a high-wire act at the circus.  He said it was made of a trampoline material.  Although only a few feet off the ground, he carefully mounted the wire and walked a few paces, sometimes jumped off, sometimes righted himself, and sometimes even walked to the other side, pivoted 180 degrees and walked again. Analogous to life, if you know what I mean.

    I have often found that trying to make big changes in life require the sort of flexibility and balance of the tight rope walker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no high-wire artist, but I know what it is like to jump on the proverbial bungee wire, fall off, get back on, fall back off again, stumble, pivot, and sometimes successfully make it to the other side. I have done all of these things over the past couple of months, having moved from Minnesota to California, resigning from one job where there was a lot of security, taking a leap of faith, becoming a full-time academic surgeon, developing a new practice with more complex patients, all the while trying to maintain sanity at home.

    The lessons that I have learned during this recent upheaval have been patience and balance. Although we largely stick to a paleo diet, sometimes I find that I deviate from the rigidity of the “rules” in order to bend and not break.  I have been eating white rice and rice noodles from time to time. On occasion, I’ll have fish tacos with corn tortillas. I had a coconut milk latte at Starbucks the other day because I had been too busy in the morning to make my own.  Unfortunately, the Starbucks coconut milk is just loaded with sugar, or so it seems.  It tasted just too sweet for me. I have found that most coconut milks, unless they are directly  from a can, appear to be infused with a lot of other ingredients from guar gum to cane sugar to preservatives. But, on occasion, a Starbucks’ coconut latte is going to have to do.

    As I have gotten older, I have learned not to beat myself up over the small things. I’m not too worried about a little guar gum, a little cane sugar, corn, or rice. Nobody is on a fast food diet here. We’re still getting exercise. Running, crossfitting, playing at the park.

    We’re walking the tight rope here in California. Luckily, it’s only a few inches above the ground.

    “Tight Rope” by Stevie Ray Vaughn

    Caught up in a whirlwind, can’t catch my breath.
    Knee deep in hot water, broke out in cold sweat.
    Can’t catch a turtle, in this rat race.
    Feels like I’m losing, at a breakneck pace.

    Afraid of my own shadow, in the face of grace.
    Heart full of darkness, spotlight on my face.
    There was love all around me, but I was looking for revenge.
    Thank God it never found me, would have been the end.

    Walkin’ the tight rope, steppin on my friends
    Walkin’ the tight rope, was a shame and a sin.
    Walkin’ the tight rope, between wrong and right.
    Walkin’ the tight rope, both day and night. (Solo)

    Lookin’ back in front of me, in the mirror’s grin.
    Through eyes of love I see, I’m really lookin at a friend
    We’ve had all our problems, that’s the way life is.
    My heart goes out to others, who are there to make amends.

    (Walkin’ the tightrope) Trying to make it right
    Every day and every night
    Bring it all around.
    From the lost to found.
    Streched around the world.
    Save the boys and girls.
    Let’s make it right.
    Do it, do it tonight.
    Walkin the tightrope




  • Oh, yes, it’s Market Night and the feeling’s right…


    Okay, so maybe Kool and the Gang weren’t on the main stage there last week, but Thursday Market Night in downtown Redlands is a happening spot.  Imagine a 5-block stretch of 100 booths hocking everything from gluten free, Paleo approved nut butters to organic, locally grown produce, to BBQ ribs and chicken.  You can catch a performance from the local Redlands Area jazz band or a flute quartet. TMN has been in existence since 1988 and brings in thousands of visitors during the year.  IMG_1960  Peppers, beans, zukes. You name it, it’s there.

    We’ve been really interested in finding locally grown, grass fed meats and we happened upon a booth staffed by a pair of friendly gals who told us about their ranch out of Lake Elsinore, CA. Da-Le Ranch calls itself a “sustainable and renewable project-in-progress,” but they already offer a wide array of meats from pastured chicken to lamb to pheasant. We’ve been checking out their website and considering ordering, if the prices seem appropriate. They’ll deliver the following week, so it seems fairly convenient.

    IMG_1958                                                                  The friendly gals of Da-Le Ranch


            The grass-fed, free range, humanely treated, hormone/steroid/soy/GMO-free happy animal list

    We decided that we’d eat dinner out on Thursday night, to give Ryan a break from the kitchen. As much as he loves cooking every night, it’s great to have a night off.  He had a half rack of BBQ ribs and I had a carne asada skewer.


    Here’s the plate


    Here’s the chef

    Henry said he wasn’t hungry, but I’m guessing that he was too excited to jump in the jumper and ride the big inflatable slide.


    After a few sessions of jumping and sliding, he was famished.  Not completely on the Paleo plan, he had a big piece of cheese pizza. We wandered up and down Orange Street, admiring the succulent arrangements in one booth and listening to Spanish guitar being played by a busker on the corner.



    Check out this water-conscious succulent bowl. Love, love, love it.

                                IMG_1963                          IMG_1962

                                      Honey with the comb                           Fluffy, fresh bee pollen from Temecula Valley


    I had a nice discussion with the Redlands Area Democratic Club members. They invited us to their Thursday morning coffee hour and discussion. I guess I’d make an appearance if Thursday wasn’t my big clinic day. 


    I had a pressing question finally answered by some clairvoyants.

    So, if you and the boys make it out for a visit, we’ll be sure to hit up TMN. You’ll leave with your belly full, a bag of locally grown produce, a terra-cotta planter full of succulents, and answers to some of life’s most mysterious questions.

    P.S.  I’m drinking a grapefruit La Croix and wishing I had a SodaStream! The fizzier the better…we’re pretty low class here, so we welcome eructation…

  • Are you Cereus?

    JR- I’m thrilled to hear that you decided to take the Primal Blueprint Certified Expert training.  No need to convince me, I’m sure you’ll find applications of the knowledge gained in your day-to-day life. You certainly have run the gamut in terms of reading paleo/primal diet related literature and I have learned a lot from you through osmosis.

    Speaking of reading, did you ever find Where Our Food Comes From by Gary Nabhan?  As you recall, he’s this absolutely fascinating ethnobotanist, Franciscan brother, and MacArthur fellowship recipient who I found after reading Lynne Rosetto Kasper (your lady crush!) and  Sally Swift’s cookbook, How to Eat Weekends.  I’m excited to pick up a few of his other books because he focuses on plants and cultures of the Southwest.

    Which brings me to the title of this post. The house where we are living has the most delightful xeriscaping. As a landscape designer/architect, you’d appreciate the botany and the effort to reduce water use in the arid climate. The front yard has a few aloes, agaves, barrel cacti, and creosote. Several fruit trees reside in the backyard with fruit in various stages of ripeness.


    Here are some nearly ripe pomegranates growing along the driveway. Note: the pomegranate will not ripen off the tree, so it’s important to leave them on the branch until they look ruby red.


    There is a large persimmon tree with unripe fruit. I recognized their classic shape, despite their color. Unfortunately, they are no where close to being edible at this time.


    This little shorty is an avocado tree that was planted by the house’s owner last year.  It has yet to bear fruit.  I wonder if it has something to do with the long drought.


    Here’s a real beauty of a tree. A very large grapefruit with exceptionally ripe yellow grapefruits.  Henry and I picked a few as we did not want them to join their comrades on the ground.  I expected them to be excessively bitter.  We were surprised to find them tart and yet, very sweet. We ate the entire thing.


    Have you ever eaten a sun-warmed grapefruit?  It was a real treat. Slow down… don’t go microwaving your oranges now.

    IMG_1933    IMG_1931

    Enter the Peruvian apple cactus or Cereus peruvianus or Cereus repandus! Check out this majestic plant! Some grow to be over 20 feet tall.  They have these marvelous branching limbs and produce a lovely, large white flower.


    It has a beautiful fruit that can be pink to orange in color.


    When sliced, you can appreciate the soft inner flesh that has many crunchy little black seeds.  The flavor is like a very mild kiwi with a tart cruciferous outer shell.

    There is a real debate about this plant’s nomenclature.  Please see the article entitled “The Least and Best Known Cactus.” by Daiv Freeman, webmaster of Cactiguide.com, on the controversy this spiny fellow has stirred up.

    I’ve not written much fan mail in the past, but I think this fruit deserves a letter to Mr. Nabhan, himself.  I want to pick his brain on how this fruit has been used. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

    FYI: we’re Facebook friends.  I know you’re jealous…


  • Coconut-proof coffee and BulletWine

    Oh, Mojo Jo-Jo…my heart goes out to you regarding Dirkie boy.  He was such a sweet pup. As you know, our Casper went to the doghouse in the sky a few months earlier after battling a rare autoimmune disease. At least Dirk never chewed in half a raw silk curtain from the den, grabbed one of our chickens by the gullet, shook her like Raggedy Ann, and then emerged from the woods in the middle of winter with a completely detached hindquarter of a frozen deer in his jaws. Caspie was a happy dog, but comically mischievous. Dirkie boy sat in the front of class, while Casper smoked cigarettes with the kids in Metallica shirts in the bathroom.



    About 88 miles from Redlands, Redondo Beach is this gem of a stretch of sand along the Pacific. My cousin and her husband happen to live about a mile from said sandbox and they are lucky little devils, aren’t they? We spent the entire last Saturday there, parked underneath our new Sport-brella XL and covered with SPF 50.

    So, what to eat at the beach?

    First of all, remember Coleridge’s famed poem…and the Iron Maiden song, too…

    Water, water, every where

    And all the boards did shrink;

    Water, water every where

    Nor any drop to drink

    We brought several gallons of water and easily consumed it all by mid-afternoon. Earlier in the morning, we grilled some organic apple-chicken brats and wrapped them in foil. I cut up a bunch of carrots, plums, and peaches and put some pickles and summer sausage slices in a container. Add a bag of raw almonds, and Voila! Paleo beach picnic!

    I had been sticking to my Whole 30-esque diet for several months until my cousin surprised us on the sand with some dairy-free, grain-free brownies…I didn’t want to disappoint her.

    A bona fide food freak, my cousin loves a cup of good coffee and a nice French pastry. In fact, she is making a trip to Paris and Lyon next month. I asked her whether she had heard of Bulletproof coffee. She and her husband both had looks of absolute horror when I told her about whipping up a coffee and grass-fed butter smoothie. I gave her the rundown of the benefits of a combined caffeine and fat meal after a night of fasting.  Improved concentration, a feeling of satiety, energy that lasts for many hours.  I, myself, use decaf (because I don’t want to have a tremor in the operating room) and coconut milk (because of the eosinophilic esophagitis that plagues me). I’ve been sticking to this early morning regimen for many months and don’t intend on breaking it any time soon.

    We wrapped up the evening on their balcony eating a savory green curry and a shrimp and broccoli dish.  Passionate enophiles (not to be confused with eosinophiles), they poured us a few glasses of respectable wines…and, once again, I hated to disappoint. After a few years of no alcohol, I guess I forgot how nice and relaxing a good glass of wine could be.

    And then, we hypothesized that the feeling could be augmented by a nice wedge of grass-fed butter….BulletWine. Strangely, not a grimace on a single face.



  • Earth to Stillwater….we’ve landed!


    I am so proud of your bacon escapades.  Next, you will have to learn how to weave a bacon basket or a poncho as I have seen on Pinterest…or maybe that was just a dream I had.

    bacon basket

    Life in Redlands has been a little whack-a-doodle…scattered and crazy…but starting to settle down as we have now been here for a full week.

    Here is the good news!  Ryan found a killa-from-Manila Crossfit gym to work out at.  Plus, he was just asked to coach there as well. He’s super-psyched to join the crowd at CDR because they have some BEASTS working out there.  We’re talking Where the Wild Things Are type creatures…

    Owner/coach Calvin (or as I like to call him Rex Kwon Do) is a CF maniac.  In one session, he taught me how to squat a hundred times better that I ever have, even with my FAI (femoral acetabular impingement).

    Another piece of good news…I was a little worried when I could not find a co-op or a Whole Foods in the area.  I mean, where are you going to find a good bulk food aisle, anything from the grass-fed kingdom, and, especially, my universal elixir (kombucha- until I get my SCOBY properly fed and fermenting)?? Enter the unicorn…Clark’s Nutrition!  Best health food store ever!

    Here is a list of 5 interesting facts that I learned this week and hope to expound upon over the weeks to come:

    1. Trader Joe’s is a good place to buy ghee…$3.99.  Not grass-fed, but good in a pinch.

    2. Pugs are resilient flyers.  Zoey had a one-stop flight from MN to CA and you’d never know that she hadn’t just been trapped in the gazebo for a few hours.  Spry and enthusiastic when she was met at the baggage claim.

    3. A SCOBY and kefir grains can be brought through security at the airport without a TSA agent mistaking it for meth ingredients or a dead jellyfish.

    4. Electric cars are everywhere. I parked in a lot next to three other Nissan Leafs…or shall I say Nissan Leaves.  The foliage is thick.

    5. You thought you knew nice when you moved to Minnesota.  California Nice exists too.

    Ciao for now.