Category: Random Thoughts


The 1st Rule is: You do not talk about the Blog

The 2nd Rule is: You do NOT TALK about the Blog!

OK, that was lame. The real rule of the blog (this blog at least) is, do not start a blog when you are headed into one of your busiest times of the work year, AND when you are planning to be out of town for two weekends, AND do not start a blog when you are on a committee for throwing a huge party for Girl Scout volunteers.

But all that is over now, and I’ve actually let in less chaos than I eliminated, so I’m at a chaos deficit, and I’m back. Back to blogging, and more importantly, back to primal eating. To say I was less than 100% compliant would be an understatement on the order of saying that the Titanic had some problems with ice. It shows, too. I gained 3 pounds and some circumference, and generally feel like crap.

For those of you who have been following me with any regularity, and thinking, yeah, I could probably do that, if I just had someone more competent than Amie to help me out here, Mark Sisson has released a new book called Primal Blueprint 21-Day Transformation, so check it out!

See you tomorrow, with recipes and stuff. 🙂

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Today I’m doing the recipe first because it was pretty awesome, at least according to the reviews at the Trebing “Cave.” This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe I had for turkey from America’s Test Kitchen. I really like that show and Cook’s Country. They are not primal but they usually cook with whole foods, so it’s easy to adapt their recipes. I think eventually I’m going to do 4 chicken recipes, one that’s good for each season, but all I’ve got for now is a Fall version.

Amie’s Primal Chicken: Autumn
2 whole chickens
Ground Cinnamon
Ground Cloves
Poultry Seasoning
1 Apple, seeded and cut into eighths
1/2 large onion, quartered
Butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Remove any giblets, etc., that came with the chicken. (They can be simmered in a saucepan with carrots, celery, and onion for chicken stock that is out of this world–more on that another time). Rinse the chickens inside and out. Open the cavity and shake some cinnamon, cloves, and poultry seasoning inside, then add a slice of onion, a chunk of apple, and repeat. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on top of that, and then repeat again for a total of four slices/chunks of onion and four chunks of apple. Rub the outside of the chicken with another tablespoon or so of butter and the sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for about a half-hour per pound. Test with meat thermometer, then remove from oven and allow to rest before carving.

Notes:

  • My chickens were about 4 pounds each, and took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to cook.
  • I use restaurant sized cinnamon and poultry seasoning and went with three shakes of the sprinkley side of each, and a shake of regular sized ground cloves. Use your favorite fall spices for this – you could also use nutmeg or allspice if you like those. Think apple cider spices. 🙂 America’s Test Kitchen also uses an orange, but I am saving that for the Winter edition of 4-seasons chicken.
  • I thought of the internal butter afterwards, but I think it would be a nice addition.
  • I baked my chickens in an 18-quart Nesco Roaster that doesn’t have the air attachment that my 6-quart roaster did, and the skin didn’t come out as crispy and delicious as I had hoped it would (or else there would have been pictures). Next time I think I’ll finish them in the oven.
  • I put these together in about 15 minutes this afternoon because I was teaching tonight, and with a canned or investment cooked veggie (like the asparagus that I could double the quantity I needed this morning for leftovers tonight) and a quick carving, you could have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. They could also be cooked one evening for lunch or dinner the next.

And now, onto Nutrition:

Breakfast: 3 sausage patties crumbled into 4 eggs with sauteed onion and asparagus, water to drink
Lunch: I wasn’t hungry and kinda forgot to eat
Dinner: leftovers from main dinner
Cheat: half of a 20-ounce Coke purchased in a fit of stress after my car accident today. I literally walked into Circle K, filled a 20-ounce cup with ice, and then filled it halfway with Coke, so I am guessing maybe 10 ounces.

…Wait, did you just say car accident?

Yep, highlight of the day. Coming home from teaching class this afternoon, some “jackoff” as the other guy referred to him, made a left turn, cutting me off. When I hit my brakes to avoid hitting him, brakes + downhill + wet pavement made me lock up. I started to skid into the other westbound lane, then corrected, but slightly over-corrected as I wound up sliding into the turn lane the “jackoff” had just turned from and clipped the car that had been behind him. Police said it was the jackoff’s fault, but neither the other driver nor I had noted his license plate number, so we get to both call our insurance agencies and tell them we had an accident that wasn’t our fault, but wasn’t the other guy’s either. Good times. Still no excuse for the soda though. Weak sauce on my part.

 

The Results Show, 09/01/2011

So when I started this, I said I would do it for a month and see how it went. Overall, I am SO pleased! Before I get into the details, here’s the Bottom Line:

Weight, 08/01/2011: Very Large
Weight, 09/01/2011: Very Large – 14 pounds

Waist Measurement, 08/01/2011: Immense
Waist Measuremen, 09/01/2011t: Immense – 2 inches

BMI, 08/01/2011: Astronomical
BMI, 09/01/2011: Astronomical – 2.3

Lean Mass, 08/01/2011: Not nearly enough
Lean Mass, 09/01/2011: Not nearly enough + 2.6 pounds

Which means that (in theory) I have actually lost 16.6 pounds of fat and gained 2.6 pounds of muscle.

I have also gotten stronger, slept more, and developed an appreciation for dark chocolate. In addition, my blood pressure has gone down. And I have cooked more in the last month than I had in the three months previous.

…And I lost a dress size.

I think I’ll go another month!

Thanks, everyone for your support. I’ll try to put more food and less talk on here this month!

 

On Tuesday I had a busy evening. Three students and a quick trip down to Affton and back. I wound up in a Starbucks for my last appointment, looked the temptation that is Mocha Coconut Frappucino (quite possibly my favorite beverage not named Mr. Pibb or Coca-cola) in the eye, and fell at its feet.

62 grams of sugar later (62 grams! Seriously! In a Grande!) I found myself…strangely NOT guilty. No berating. No crushing internal dialogue along the lines of, “Maybe you’re just not meant to be attractive, fat girl.” I got up, waved the nearly empty cup at BK, who was tutoring across the store, and cheerfully said, “I’m probably going pay for this later this week…but I’m pretty sure it was worth it.”

I went home, told Tim, “We need to go for a walk,” and off we went, for about a half-hour, to regulate my Insulin Response (I think that’s what it’s called–when you move after you eat simple carbs to encourage your body to burn them rather than convert and store them)

Now from a “sugar is not good for you” standpoint, it was clearly not a good move. But from a “Someday, I’d like to not be a fat girl” standpoint, it was a little bit of a victory. Today I got up and had a good breakfast (pastured eggs and spinach), good lunch (BreadCo French Onion Soup, minus the croutons), and good dinner (a little tilapia, a little chicken breast, and more spinach, I was too lazy to steam a veggie), went and played in the pool for an hour and a half, and took a walk during Katy’s volleyball practice. I’m still on the road to skinny. 🙂

This weekend, Katy and I are going to Neighborhood Camporee for Girl Scouts. We’ll be having lunch, dinner, and breakfast at camp. I am thinking of packing a cooler with extra veggies, some chicken breast, and maybe a little HFCS-free jerky to supplement what they serve at camp…do you think that’s okay etiquette, and if so, any other suggestions for what I should bring, based on what you’ve read so far? Any help would be appreciated!

Reader Theresa (so cool!) writes:

Ok. Amie. Got a question for you that perhaps you could answer on your blog. What is primal eating? How has it changed you? Why did you decide to go with primal as opposed to low-fat stuff? How does this affect the way you cook at home and how has your family reacted to the changes? Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

Did you see the part where she said she was looking forward to reading more of my blog? But back to the matter at hand…

Primal eating embraces the idea that we should like our ancestors (our way, way back ancestors) did. Their diet was primarily made up of whatever they could, well, hunt and gather, including game, fruits, veggies, and the like.

It also highlights the love-hate relationship we have with gluten. As in, we love gluten, but it kinda hates us. It’s hard for our bodies to process, and can cause chronic inflammation in those who are gluten-sensitive or -intolerant. And foods that have a high gluten content tend to have a high carb count. Carbs raise our blood sugar levels, make our livers work harder, and can lead to insulin resistance when over-consumed, which Americans tend to do in a big way. And insulin resistance is bad, bad news. (Recommended reading: Good Calories, Bad Calories, if you’re interested in a whole lot of science, or Why We Get Fat, which is a more accessible version of the first and frankly the one I preferred reading, both by Gary Taubes)

So, primal eating calls for lots of whole, unprocessed, foods, the cleanest you can afford. A good amount of protein, low carbs, and enough fat to round out your daily caloric needs. Pasta is out, gluten is out, bread is out (although concessions can be made for sourdough, because it’s fermented and more easily digested), sugar is out, all kinds of meat are in (beef, pork, chicken, and game meat–the cleaner the better), veggies and fruit are in, dairy is in but limited, and some oils are in, but not necessarily the ones you’d expect: at the top of the list are coconut oil, and purely rendered lard, although butter is also good. Dark chocolate? In, the darker the better, as a treat. Red wine? In, in moderation.

Primal eating is one component of primal living, and I think that’s what appeals to me the most about this way of doing things, the whole body approach. Primal living says you need to eat well; you need to move your body, build your strength, and play; you need to get sufficient rest; and you need to avoid stress and doing stupid things. The other thing I like about it is that the approach is that 100% primal eating is fantastic, but 80% primal is better than 0%. Something that is heavily emphasized in The Primal Blueprint is, “don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” (More recommended reading: The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson.)

Why did I choose this over low-fat eating? Probably for a couple of reasons: 1) I’ve tried low-fat eating before, and I always sucked at it. I suspect now that it’s because things that are low-fat tend to have more sugar in them to make them taste better, but I’m not 100% sure. 2) I thought about making my cakes, how I always wanted to find the right ingredients. Whole milk is better than 1%. Unbleached cake flour is better than enriched, bleached flour. Butter trumps margarine. Quality dark chocolate and 40% heavy cream make an amazing ganache. My homemade fondant was better than the stuff I ordered online. It felt like going with food I recognized, the less processed the better, made a huge difference in the quality of my cakes. Cake is still bad for you, no matter how good your ingredients, but I thought the theory might transfer over.

So what does that mean in my daily life? Well, today I had a Canadian bacon and egg scramble for breakfast with a couple of cups of spinach on the side. Then I went to a Girl Scout leaders’ lunch at Pastries of Denmark, where I had the chicken/bacon/swiss sandwich with no bread, served on lettuce, hold the tomato and red onion because I don’t like them, hold the vinaigrette because it probably has sugar in it, but then they gave it to me anyway. And a cup of the Garden Vegetable soup. Then, because I’m not superwoman, I had 1/2 glass of Coke. Tonight’s dinner was supposed to be chicken breast, broccoli, and salad, but I wasn’t hungry and it wound up being a small snack of an organic apple, a few slices of Volpi sopressata salami (which I found in the fancy deli part of Sam’s Club) and a few slices of Kerrygold aged cheddar cheese (it’s grass-fed, but I also found it at Sam’s) and for dessert I had a square of Ghiradelli 72% dark chocolate. I think I did okay 🙂

The “bottom line” is more-or-less the same as it used to be. My meat is running more expensive as I try to explore my grass-fed or pastured options, but I’m still getting a lot of my produce at Sam’s. Occasional moments of weakness aside, I’m not spending $.72 per day on my soda habit (plus M&Ms, or maybe a Reese’s Big Cup, or…) at Circle K or Quik Trip. Eating out doesn’t happen very often either, which can also support my forays into Whole Foods for coconut milk and hazelnuts for Homemade Primal Nutella (which is amazing, I’ll post the recipe next).

I’ve blathered on for quite a bit here, so I’ll sign off and address the kids in a future post. To preview: I’ve got one on board, one sort of on board, and one that’s more off-board (?) than on.

I hope that helped answer your questions. Let me know if what I said generated any more, and I’ll try to answer those too! 🙂

How did I get here?

It’s a classic story: Girl loves food. Girl gets food. Girl gets chunky. Girl tries goofy diet after goofy diet. Girl loses weight. Girl gets weight back.

Last year, I did Weight Watchers, and lost about 15 pounds. Then I regained it over the holidays. Then, inspired by my friend BK (no, not Burger King…although he has inspired me before too), Tim and I read and tried the Slow Carb Diet as described by Tim Farriss in The 4-Hour Body. BK has had tremendous success with it, and it worked for awhile for Tim and me, but I was gaining everything back on my Cheat Day (and by Cheat Day, I mean Festival of Gluttony) and then having a hard time settling back into the week. Plus, the kids were not having any of it. I knew I needed something that was practical for my family, and sustainable over time.

Three things happened more or less simultaneously that led us here. 1) Tim discovered the work of Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat, and Good Calories, Bad Calories; 2) I found Sarah Fragoso’s great book, Everyday Paleo; and 3) Tim and I discovered separately and briefly discussed Mark Sisson’s marksdailyapple.com. But I didn’t actually change anything.

Until one day when, with all of this swirling around in my head, I skipped a high-protein breakfast that Tim had fixed, drank 32 ounces of Coke, had a huge Mexican business lunch with BK including more soda, and realized that I felt like garbage. I was tired and bloated, my weight was back at its highest point, I had had to try on three shirts that day to find one that was at all flattering, and I knew from my research that my liver and pancreas had to be trying to organize the rest of my organs into collectively bargaining for better working conditions.

I texted Tim, who was leaning toward a more primal/paleo approach, and said, I’m in. Let’s do this.

Since then, I’ve been voraciously reading anything I can get my hands on about the paleo/primal lifestyle. I’ve shopped at Trader Joes and (gasp) Whole Foods. I’ve tried cooking all sorts of new things. I’ve moved slowly, and lifted heavy things.

And I feel great.

So, here I am. I’m still learning about how to eat to fuel my body, and there are days when I feel like Mr. Pibb is calling my name and the people at Circle K are probably forming a search party for me, but I’m having more good days than bad and I want to share them with you. Partially for accountability, partially in celebration, and partially to tell anyone who is feeling like I did: there has got to be a better way. I think I’ve found it and I’m excited to share the journey with you.