A Paleo Conversation : From CST to PST, a bi-regional take on living paleo.
  • One lump, or two?

    Greetings to you!

    What a wonderful market!  Reading your post, I sat here thinking how marvellous it must have been, and wondered out loud (yet to myself) why *I* haven’t been going to farmer’s markets this year the way I usually do.  Then the baby started crying and all in a rush I remembered why.  It’ll be more fun next year when I’m not constantly circling the baby and the breast-pump.

    Here are some photos from a market in Barcelona I visited in grad school.  It was completely spectacular and I’d love to go back.  Ostrich eggs!  Seafood galore!  Minnesota does well with farmer’s markets, but not a patch on this…

    Check out the ostrich eggs for 15 euros each!
    Check out the ostrich eggs for 15 euros each!
    Tasty little critters!
    Tasty little critters!
    Gorgeous little beasts...
    Gorgeous little beasts…

    I love that picture of Henry!  I know John would have been exactly the same, even down to the choice of cheese pizza.  Heck, if it didn’t mean days of tummy upset, I’d be tempted too 😉

    All here is well. This week I’ve been thinking about sugar.  Trying to organize my thinking on it.  Partially this is prompted by the coursework for the Primal Blueprint Certification, and partially by watching my honeybees and bumblebees in the garden.  One of them stung me on the bum, and though I did a bit of dancing and cursing as a result I’m still thrilled that they are enjoying my garden.  I particularly love the bumblebees (Dumbledores!) and am reminded of an old joke my dad tells about an aeronautics engineer who studied bumblebees and told a friend that he’d come to the conclusion that bumblebees can’t fly.  It’s impossible.  The friend promptly shushed him, “Shh! Don’t tell the bees!”.

    The way I see it, there are a few ways to approach sugar and paleo.

    • Total Ban – like the Whole 30.
    • Strict Restriction – like Primal Blueprint, avoid added sugars but there is some flexibility in the famous 80/20 rule/escape clause.
    • Moderate Avoidance – this isn’t so much tied to a plan as it is a reflection of what happens when perceived paleo-friendly sugars are used particularly when making “paleo” treats.

    I vacillate between these three levels. I don’t worry much about a spoonful of sugar here and there, and I tend to steer clear the profusion of paleo sweets since I’m working on losing weight.

    The major sugars I’m thinking about here are glucosefructose, and sucrose (white table sugar) which is made of a glucose stuck to a fructose.

    In all the paleo brownie recipes etc. that are out there, many of which are delicious and can be perfectly sensible treats (no judging here!) the sweetener called for is often honey, maple syrup, or (less often) agave syrup. The perception is that they are a healthier choice than white sugar (debatable) and that they are delicious (absolutely!)

    Apart from a few trace minerals, I don’t see how these are better for you than white sugar? Tastier certainly… but I have a hard time believing they are healthier.

    Ultimately, based on the reading I’ve done, I believe fructose is worse for you than glucose, and that people should limit all sugars in the diet.  It also seems to me that many of the fashionable paleo sweeteners are heavy on the fructose, and as such I tend to try and avoid them, but I don’t get paranoid about it.  Though I don’t use added sugars very often at all (except when making kombucha!), I tend to use white sugar or coconut sugar when I do.

    • Honey is a mixture of glucose and fructose in varying amounts.  Sometimes the glucose crystallizes out and you get crunchy honey, sometimes (like Tupelo honey) there isn’t much glucose, it’s mainly fructose and it doesn’t crunch up. I know there are some groovy enzymes and micronutrients and the like in there, but once it’s been baked into a brownie – are they still significant? Are they degraded by heat? Do you get enough in a sensible serving to make it worth it?  As far as I can tell (Wikipedia) honey that is heavy on the fructose is comparable to public enemy number one, high-fructose corn syrup.
    • Maple Syrup also contains a few groovy micronutrients, seems to be lower in fructose than honey but has more than white sugar (according to the University of Vermont).
    • Agave Syrup is very high in fructose and reportedly has saponins and other unfriendlies in it.  Can’t recommend it.
    • Coconut Sugar is mostly sucrose, and the rest is balanced between glucose and fructose.

    Mark Sisson covers this all a lot better than I can.  Robert Lustig has a great video on sugars here,  and there’s a good rebuttal  of Lustig here.

    I know you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m very interested in your thoughts on this.  Am I off base?  Should I refine my thinking?  Or do I need a chill-pill and a cocktail, and to not overthink it especially since I don’t have much anyway?

    That having been said, I’ll never pass up a paleo brownie if one is handed to me!

    Cheers!

    J.

     

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

    JHR-

    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

    IMG_1957

            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.

    IMG_1965

    Here’s the plate

    IMG_1966

    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.

    IMG_1972

    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.

    IMG_1977

     

    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

                                IMG_1921

    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. 

    IMG_1918

    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…

  • Stillwater Fizzywater

    El-Ra,

    WOW.  You have a nice desert garden there!  Cereusly.  I adore xeriscaping, and I actually think that we need more of it here as well as over in your neck of the woods even though you’re the one in the middle of a famous drought right now.  This is where my day job is creeping in here a bit.  Minnesota is seen as water-rich.  It rains plenty (it’s raining right now!), the rain stays on the landscape in short- and long-term storage, and flows off in a more-or-less orderly manner.  And we’re still using too much of it and running out (case and point – draining White Bear Lake).  My professional opinion is that the domestic lawn is the number one crop in America, and is a massive waste of resources.  I think we’d do better to have smaller lawns – keep them exquisite and jewel-like if needed, and surround them with wilder, richer xeriscaping and permaculture. If I return to Landscape Architecture, it will probably be my battle-cry.  It’s a battle I fight in my own home and my long-term plans for this place include reducing our turf footprint and watering needs.  Hopefully I can get the community association president to okay the plans.  Luckily, I’m married to him 😉

    In the meantime, I’m looking forwards to hearing about the foods you’re harvesting from your own little bit of paradise.  Pomegranates, avocados, grapefruits and persimmons?  Mmmm! I’m very very curious about the Cereus… how exotic!

    In the spirit of productive landscapes, here are two snaps of John from his recent time at the Children’s Farm.

    Handing me a bean, in the bean tunnel.
    Handing me a bean, in the bean tunnel.
    Up, up and away!
    Up, up and away!

    Thanks for the nudge about Gary Nabhan.  He’s now officially on the reading list, and at the rate I’m going and the length of the list, I should be able to get to it by about next summer.  😉

    All this talk of water has reminded me to tell you about my favorite new gadget.

    We got a SodaStream and it’s my new favorite thing.  My very own fizzy water!  If I use our wellwater, it’s mineral water too with a distinctive iron-tang to it.  Ours is the Source model and can fizz to three different levels from “why bother” all the way up “crazy fizzy” that makes you burp.  Well, it makes me burp, and I’m sufficiently classless to thoroughly enjoy it. I tone down the fizziness when company’s coming over.

    They’ve got some nice fizzy water flavors too, but they’re crazy expensive and hard to get so I can’t recommend them.  I just toss in a bit of lemon juice or some orange extract from the cupboard from time to time.  Roman likes his the same way that Alton Brown does, with bitters in.

    I like it so much, I’m considering getting one for work, though I’ll have to get a handle on the whole belching-like-a-sailor situation.

    Miss you!

    J.

  • 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.

    IMG_1932

    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.

    IMG_1934

    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.

    IMG_1935

    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.

    IMG_1936

    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.

    IMG_1939

    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.

    IMG_1937

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

    IMG_1938

    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…

     

  • Certifiable

    E!

    Brownies on the beach? Glasses of wine?  What hedonistic pleasures!!  Thoughts of lounging on the beach all day are delightful, but somehow I think our little beach down on the St Croix doesn’t quite compare to the Pacific Ocean.  I’d love to live by the sea again.  In the meantime I’ll have to make do by coming out to visit you.  To do research on paleo beach cuisine of course.  Business trip, you see.  Tax write-off 😉

    Hmmm… not so sure about butter-wine.  Sounds like it would be better poured on a steak than drunk with it.  More testing needed!  I myself haven’t been Bulletproofing my coffee lately, but that’s entirely due to being lazy about the extra dish I’d have to wash.  However, when I return to work in two weeks, it might be worth the (very minor) bother.

    We’re having a warm day today, might hit 93 degrees (cue laughter from California).  It’s a bit humid but not too bad.  Once I’ve finished this I’m going to go sit outside with a coffee and enjoy roasting for a bit.

    Time for a cuppa.
    Time for a cuppa.

    In other news, I did it.  I’ve signed up to become a Primal Blueprint Certified Expert.

    So why am I doing this?  I know we’ve talked about this, but I’m still not quite sure why.  It honestly could be the end-of-summer start-of-school itchy feet urging me to seek fresh beginnings through study.  I’m not sure, but here are a few thoughts driving me:

    1. I’m interested.  I read a lot of books, articles, and posts about the various flavors of evolutionary nutrition and I continue to find it endlessly fascinating.  I am interested when theories and hypotheses agree with each other, and when they disagree, and how they are changing as the movement matures.  I’m interested in the motivations and goals of the leaders and the adherants in various disciplines.  It’s all fascinating! I’m even interested in our critics, though I’m dismayed by how many are ill-informed.
    2. I’ve a soft spot in my heart for the Primal Blueprint.  The web site and book were my first resources when I started down this tangled path nearly four years ago.  At that time I was struggling with many bodily frustrations and I’d realized, with a shock of horror and bad timing (having just moved with my husband, 18-month old, and two dogs back in with my parents to facilitate selling our house) that I really should try giving up gluten.  My poor mum trying to feed us all!  Primal Blueprint gave me hope, inspiration, and explanations.  It also gave me direction and a plan.  Things haven’t been the same since.
    3. This will help make me a better advocate.  I will at least feel better informed, and be perceived as a more credible source.
    4. The price is right.  Though it is by no means cheap, it’s not ridiculously expensive either.  This is something the budget can bear.  It isn’t so expensive that I feel that I need to make a monetary return on my investment, it’s ok if this is just for me.
    5. It’s encouraging me to return to my foundational works.  I’ve read nutrition books as a hobby for quite a few years, and I’m seeing the value now in re-reading them.  Lucky you! I’ll probably tell you all about them!  I’m not just a crashing bore at parties, I can be one here too!

    Care to join me?

    Much Love,

    Jo and the Boys

  • 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.

     

    IMG_1889

    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.

     

     

  • Poulet Vert

    Welcome back to Earth, Redlandling!

    Its wonderful to hear that you’re settling in.  I can only too easily imagine Ryan at the Crossfit gym – seems to be a great fit for him. Got any hints on how to squat well?  I tore a ligament in my knee once when squatting – though to be fair, I had 50 pounds of wiggling five-year-old on my back at the time. 🙂

    I’m sad to tell you that we are now dogless.  Our poor Dirk took a turn for the worse last weekend, and left us with only one compassionate choice.  This is the worst part of having dogs, as you well know.  Upon reflection, we realized that we don’t have many funny stories about him because he was such a good boy.  The worst of his hi-jinx involved wandering down to visit you, and happily walking back to us with Ryan.  I’m thrilled to hear that Zoe was such a trooper and travelled well.

    Dirk, The Wonder Dog
    Dirk, The Wonder Dog

    Stillwater is still where you left it, only a bit cooler and rainier. The prairie is filthy with yellow blossoms, but that’s nothing on our wildflower patch back by the firepit.  It’s a ten-foot tall bedlam of wildflowers, humming and buzzing with bees and butterflies.  We’ve seen a fair few monarch and yellow swallowtail butterflies back there, as well as bumblebees which we, of course, call Dumbledores.

    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea),  Grey-Headed Coneflower, and Common Ox-Eye (I think)
    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Grey-Headed Coneflower, Common Ox-Eye, and Prairie Sunflower (I think)

    As you know, a couple of weeks ago I tried making Nom Nom Paleo’s Green Chicken.  We loved the recipe, and have since made it again.  John thought it was a bit spicy, which was surprising since as a baby his first favorite food was Carroll Shelby’s Terlingua Chili and frequently ate his teething crackers with a drop of Sriracha on them.  Tastes change, and I backed off on the pepper flakes the second time around.

    Green Gunge.  Smells better than it looks.
    Green Gunge. Smells better than it looks.
    Looks like I scraped it out of the mower.
    Looks like I scraped it out of the mower.
    Ready to go!
    Ready to go!
    Come here, my wee beauties.
    Come here, my wee beauties.
    To gunge, or not to gunge?
    To gunge, or not to gunge?
    Tasty Roasted Gunge
    Tasty Roasted Gunge

    I was a bit slapdash (read: generous) with the greenery in the recipe, and once it was all whizzed up it looked like nothing so much as that green gunge that gets stuck in the lawnmower after mowing the lawn.  We also had a little family debate as to whether or not to leave said green gunge on the chicken or remove it for cooking.  We left it, and it browned into the most delicious crust.  Spectacular!  I’ve rarely seen the boys eat quite so much chicken in one sitting, despite protestations from John re: the spiciness.

    On calling it Poulet Vert; I was feeling particularly inspired by Julia Childs that day, and thought it was a bit more elegant than calling it Lawnmower Chicken, which was my runner-up title.

    Much love to you all, so glad you’re settling in!

    Joanne and the Boys

  • Earth to Stillwater….we’ve landed!

    J-star-

    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.

    LB

  • Bacon and Auspicious Beginnings

    Dear Elizabeth,

    We are still neighbors for three more days!  The move, looming for so very long, is now upon us and you’re about to embark on a brand new adventure.  You and your family will be sorely missed, but I shall comfort myself with bacon. Is there any better way?

    Homemade bacon!

    [NOTE: There is no photo of cooked bacon. It tends to evaporate too quickly.]

    It was surprisingly easy to make, and in fact, I hesitate to explain here what I did.  It will seem so much less impressive.

    This started when we embarked upon a Whole30 on July 12th, my fifth and Roman’s first.  We both sorely regretted the lack of bacon, but couldn’t quite stand to spend the money necessary for the Paleo sugar-free, heritage-breed, organic, pasture-fed bacons.  At the rate we eat the stuff, I’d have to take an extra job just to afford it.

    I followed the instructions over at PaleoLeap for Homemade Bacon.  Almost.

    I substituted Herbes de Provence for thyme due to deficiencies in household provisioning.  I omitted the honey, since the whole point of this endeavor was to get sugar-free bacon.  Also, I have concerns about the salt I used – I only had giant sea salt crystals to work with, and I’m not sure that the measurements worked out correctly.  Still, it worked.  I baconed.

    It ended up a bit too salty, but not viciously so.  Very nice flavor from the seasonings, reminiscent of good European ham.  Everyone seems to enjoy it, and my mother loved it.  She has no love for smoky food and liked that it was unsmoked.  Next batch gets smoked though.  I’ll also use different salt and I’ll try and use a bit less (and weigh it!!).  I might use thyme instead of Herbes de Provence, but frankly I loved the flavor so that might not change.

    I hang my head in shame that I did not procure a pasture-fed, organic, heritage breed pork belly.  One day the finances will stretch that far, but this is not that day.  I just went to Brine’s and dug around in the freezer case.

    Baconing away,

    Joanne