Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sugar is definitely Un-Paleo

On Sugar

Honey ... I trust honey and honey works in every recipe I need sweetness ... molasses is from cane sugar ... not the same ... honey

Sugar is now 20 percent of the American diet, but it's not just our health that suffers from its pervasiveness. July 23, 2012, Alternet


" ...  how often do Americans think about where sugar actually comes from or the people who produce it? As a tropical crop, sugarcane cannot grow in most U.S. states. Most of us do not smell the foul odors coming from sugar refineries, look out over vast expanses of nothing but sugarcane, or speak to those who perform the hard labor required to grow and harvest sugarcane.
 Of course, sugar can be made from beets, a temperate crop, and more than half of sugar produced in the United States is. But globally, most of the story of sugar, past and present, centers around sugarcane, not beets, and as biofuels become more common, it is sugarcane that is cultivated for ethanol. What's more, some conscious eaters avoid beet sugar as most of it is now made from genetically modified sugar beets.While I do not fool myself that sugar is "healthy," if I am going to satisfy my sweet tooth, I prefer cane sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey over the other choices: beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. Of the bunch, most Americans can find only honey and perhaps maple syrup sustainably and locally produced, but cane sugar is often the most versatile product for baking."
America Gets Its FixAn overwhelming percent of world sugar production occurs in Brazil and India, but if you are an American, your sugar fix is likely satisfied by U.S. sugar, whether cane or beet. The U.S. has long had policies that limit sugar imports, keeping the U.S. price of sugar well above the world price -- often double or more. By setting a high tariff on all sugar imports over a set quota, the U.S. protects its own sugar industry (both cane sugar and beet sugar). Producers of high fructose corn syrup also support this system as it allows them to price their product below the cost of sugar, making it attractive as a cheaper alternative."

Lost in the "on-line-ness" of it all


 No employment duties, just dog-walking, thinking about gardening, house cleaning, no rush no hassle, just me and my beauty.

Quiet and side by side reading and writing Internet stuff.

"hey, look what I found!"

"Look Honey, what you can get on Firefox."

"Does it upload pictures?"

" I have too many blogs."

"Now this one is a catchall for whining, it's titled THE WAILING.

"If that dog tries to poop under the pergola one more time ....."

"Did my grandson download that thing to my computer?"

"It's going to get hot today. Glad I'm not working."

"We/ll keep the miniblinds closed, turn on the A/C stay calm and quiet all day."

"That means it's too hot to go garage-sale-ing, right? Oh all right, let me get a cap."

It doesn't get any better than this.

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Life as a Hunter-Gatherer

Some time around mid-January of this year my fantastic gourmet-meal-preparing spouse, Lietta, asked if I'd be willing to watch a film she had seen earlier in the day. Puttering about the house earlier I'd caught a scene or two as she had watched 'The Perfect Human Diet and found it interesting.

As a relatively recent retiree (less than three years) and medicated male in "reasonable" health so long as I stay on blood pressure and gout medications, I am willing to confess that the medication has been an absolute necessity for me. Back in the late 1990's my weight was continuing its inexorable climb toward the 300 pound plateau I had been valiantly (but unfortified by weak will power) striving to avoid - primarily by the tool of denial and postponement until tomorrow what I had no will to do today.

As life and fortune would have it, we found ourselves living temporarily in Spokane, Washington where Lietta and I had more or less single-handedly moved ourselves and household furnishings not once but three times. The third move involved two moving events actually, as we first moved furnishings from our small one- bedroom apartment to a larger rental home and then drove across state to our  home on the coast and filled a full size u-haul truck with a large number of furnishings with which to fill the rental home. With the exception help loading our piano and freezer, we packed and loaded the u-haul ourselves.

At that point in January I could tell that I had probably lost close to 20 pounds due to what felt like constant  sheer exercise.

After watching 'The Perfect Human Diet that January afternoon, I shared Lietta's enthusiasm and made the most recent of many promises I had been making to her and to myself to take seriously the idea of finding a way of preparing and consuming our food in such a way as to limit or avoid many of the detrimental consequences of my love for brownies, candy, ice-cream, pasta, sandwiches and all the other stuff guys consume that results in what I tell my kids and grandkids is not a beer-belly but a macaroni-and-cheese belly.

We embraced the Paleo Diet and tried to follow it in almost a religious way for starters just to see what would happen and how quickly. I did what I could to help cook using only the fresh vegetables and meats that we had purchased for which I already had personal recipes. I also intensified my commitment to fruit smoothies, taking on responsibility for the only other beverages beyond water, juice, coffee and tea that we would be drinking.

I make up my smoothie recipes as I go along, usually utilizing fresh or frozen fruit, coconut, almond or rice-milk, sometimes ice and perhaps a spice like cinnamon or the like. This morning's new smoothie recipe is a case in point (and Lietta has already had three cups of the stuff):

  Arthur's Rhubarb, Strawberry, Orange Smoothie
8 ounces frozen rhubarb chunks
8 ounces frozen strawberries
one peeled orange
coconut milk
two capfuls bottled lemon juice
Place the rhubarb chunks loosely in the bottom of a blender
Add enough coconut milk to cover the rhubarb chunks
break the orange into 8 slices and drop in.
Add lemon juice.
Let sit five minutes while the milk helps the rhubarb thaw
Turn on blender. The coconut milk should be enough to immediately blend the rhubarb and you should have a swirling pinkish mix with a funnel in the middle. Steadily drop in the strawberries (but not too quickly) one-at-a-time until the mix thickens and starts to stop swirling.
At that point add more coconut milk until the funnel reappears. (Or you could use water but I never like to include more than 1/2 cup of water in my smoothies and no ice (maybe I'll change my mind in the hot summer. We'll see.)
Once all the strawberries have been added, You have your smoothie mix which usually lasts us 2-3 days depending on how many juice glasses we drink each day.
I'm having fun. I don't think of it as a diet as much as a way of perceiving our dietary style. Grocery shopping is truly a matter of hunting and gathering and is done much more quickly and efficiently when we hunt and gather only the specific things we choose in advance to consume. In fact, I'm struck by just how much of the store grocery aisles down which we no longer hunt and gather.

The immediate effect of the change in dietary habit was a sensation I kept describing to Lietta as my feeling of being "lubricated." In 2010 I underwent knee-replacement surgery on both knees based on advanced degenerative arthritis, not to mention my long time of abusing my knees playing basketball beyond my prime, having moved household furnishings more than 20 times in the past 40  years, jogging on paved roads and sidewalks, and other sorts of things a man who thinks he is never going to die will do to himself.

When I told Lietta I felt lubricated I was talking about the spontaneous and almost instantaneous way I could stand up and start moving without hesitation. Those who knew me even 4 months ago could see me somewhat groaning and groping for balance and leverage every time I needed to stand. Within two or three weeks I was feeling "lubricated" and like all my "bearings" had been replaced.

As far as my medication, my blood pressure for the past six years has hovered between 150-160 over 100-110. On a good day it would show in the 140-90 range. As early as February 1, I was down to the mid 120's and high 70's which I am sure is what the medical pros expected if I would have lost the weight in the first place. I expect to have a complete physical exam including blood work either in March or April as a means of gauging the effect of the paleo diet and the removal of grain-based food products along with a drastic reduction in any kinds of processed foods.

Personally, I have tried for years without success to improve my overall health and weight. This particular horse seems for the moment to have gotten me where I am when nothing else worked. So far as this particular horse doesn't stumble, I'm sticking with that brung me further than I've been since I was a young man.   

Why Paleo Diet, and why for now?

    Christmas Eve 2013 and our son-in-law, at tender age of 46 years old had a heart attack in his home, had to be resuscitated (brought back to the world of the living) by the paramedics.  Giving our family pause to reconsider life-style choices.   I know it sounds crazy that I would choose to go in an opposite direction of the collective wisdom of medical and nutritionists in food choices, but I did decide to go in that direction.  I went paleo with mine and my husband's food diet and lifestyle.  Having seen a documentary earlier that made sense to me, (The Perfect Human Diet), and having been hearing and seeing gluten-free for a while now, I decided to get into some deeper research on both - gluten free and paleo diet.

   Entering into a bit of a purist view about the matter, and being the spouse who has the food responsibilities, my husband was obliged to go along to some degree.  I didn't make demands that he adhere, and knew that I wanted to give this approach an honest trial run.  For myself, I have been struggling with some disorder in my foot and leg, ie, bone spur, plantar fasciitis, neuropathy - something that causes pain daily and interferes with my mobility in being on the foot/leg for more than a short period each day.   I continue to read up on possibilities via internet research, and it seems to be in the nature of one of those medical conditions that medical profession guesses at more than knows.  I don't want to subject my body just yet to medical guesswork (that is another story for another time).  In struggling through the pain since October when it came on strong and unrelenting, I have a keen interest in lifestyle choices that might have contributed.  I and my husband are in our 60s, me at 62 and he at 67, and we embrace that there are aging issues affecting us as well.   Along comes the paleo food regimen that makes sense to me in a way that encourages me to give it the old college try and see where it takes us.

50 lbs lighter - my
handsome skinny husband

    Well - take us it did!   My husband has dropped about 50 lbs in the few short months since January 2014 through today (March 10, 2014) and as he is fond of saying, this is the thinnest he has been, and likely has not been down to this weight in our 20 years of sharing life.  For myself, the change in weight is slower, and I do see my body redistributing itself so that the poking out belly is not poking out and there is a look to myself that is more in line with the way I used to be.  And for now that is most encouraging for me.  We didn't embrace the paleo way as a means of weight loss, no - I was looking for improvement in health issues.  The weight loss and redistribution has been a wonderful bonus and surprise to both of us.

 I have to give kudos to my husband for sharing with me a purist approach to the transformation to paleo eating.  After all the years that I thought I was preparing 'healthy food' for us in what I adopted as my personal philosophy of limiting food intake to fresh and eliminating where I could  preserved, prepared, boxed foods, I saw myself as doing us a healthy favor.  I had our food intake as weekly menu of different dishes of grains, rice, beans, lentils, pasta, and small amounts of chicken.  Sometimes pork, but primarily a reduction of meat, especially red meats in accordance with the medical/nutritional advice.  It is also fair to report that being on a strict financial budget, it worked better to reduce meats with their continuing elevated prices and stick to less expensive grains, beans, legumes, pasta.  We seemed though to be growing in weight despite the 'healthy eating'.   I'm skipping a lot of information, to get to the point of reporting that my husband was not disappointed to not only have meat back in our diet, but a generous amount of meat - daily even.

  I don't have to map out the paleo approach to eating - it has been done at length by so many others and I am so grateful to the many who have been passionate about going paleo.   It will be more suitable to put up some links to the helpful blogs, books, websites that have been a mainstay for me as I ventured into this endeavor.   And I intend to do so on the sidebars of this blog.  Wanting to share the recipes and information that so many others have generously shared  with attributes to their online presence, encouraging readers to other sites that already have jump-started, developed and are still fine-tuning the whole paleo, grain-free experience.

 It seems to me as I have spent time daily with other paleo internet sites, and books from Amazon for my Kindle on the paleo experience, it is a younger group of people who have readily adapted.  I think my husband and I may have a bit to contribute in that we are older in age, and I didn't find in my internet travels or Kindle books much that addressed the needs of people in our age group.  The other element (exercise) seems to be more in the line of cross-fit and running.  That is not a comfortable fit for us just now.  We are looking in different directions for how we can not only add but increase our exposure to exercise in alignment with our body capabilities.   And with that, I'll end this post with this easy to follow picture chart showing what foods are on and what foods are not onthe Paleo Diet.

  Happy paleoing -- Lietta

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Baked Mustard Lime Chicken

Tried this recipe last night, found at Elana's Pantry.  Not sure what the situation is in reposting recipes.  I think I read that is is okay to do so, as long as it is attributed to author.   I didn't have dijon mustard on hand, and used brown spicy mustard instead.  Tangy flavor, loved the marinade and will use it again.  I also am using Kosher salt, and plain old sea salt.  I have to learn how celtic sea salt differs from sea salt.  The recipe uses quite a bit of lime juice which means I will need to keep more lime juice on hand.
Baked Mustard Lime Chicken

  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

  1. Combine lime juice, cilantro, mustard, olive oil, chili, salt and pepper in a food processor
  2. Pulse until ingredients are well combined
  3. Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry and place in a 7 x 11 inch baking dish
  4. Pour marinade over chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 6 hours
  5. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes uncovered, or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°
  6. Serve with extra sauce spooned over top
Serves 4

Paleo diet begins now

My dear husband and I began this blog some time ago and quickly abandoned our efforts.  Reviving it to now show the Paleo Diet recipes we have shared together and come to enjoy.  Being new to the Paleo way of eating forces some changes for us, fortunately not many.  I already had adapted to a philosophy of avoiding packaged foods, sticking to fresh foods prepared from scratch.  Given that I had come to view grains as healthy foods, and a certain amount of thrift was needed in purchasing ingredients, I had heavy reliance on beans, legumes and grains as part of our healthy eating along with fresh vegetables, fruits.  Now we will be removing the grains entirely and adapting to the Paleo way of eating.

What brings about this change for us?   We watched documentary, 'The Perfect Human Diet' and it made sense to me - enough to give it a try.  Recognizing that media is about packaging, framing and selling products, this documentary didn't go there.  I'm inclined to give the Paleo diet approach due attention.  We are not young people, trying to fortify athletic builds or athletic performances.  Contrare - we are older people with some of the usual aches and pains that accompany the aging years - well for most people anyway.  Hoping to see some improvements by changing the foods we eat that are the fuel for our bodies and hoping to get some relief from the auto-immune cycles that seem wont to attack our bodies in their natural function of trying to heal what ails.

There are so many websites, blogs, books on what the Paleo diet is or is not, and it is not necessary for me to recreate what is already readily available and out there to be learned, gleaned or even argued about the value of the Paleo diet.  Suffice it to say that for us, we're wanting to follow the idea of the evoluntionary stomachs of human creatures given the many erupting symptoms we hear about that we didn't used to hear about along the course of our years, ie, gluten-free, celiac disease, obesity as seemingly a new norm, wheat-belly, wheat brain, ADD, ADHD, allergies, and the list grows. As well, grains now are not the grains of yesteryear, having been modified to the point of grotesque, and force feeding these grains to animals that do not typically eat such grain food.

It is not my thinking that we can avoid what is, what has become of the food chain, more that we can give it our best shot in light of information available.  We will not likely be purist in the sense of the word, but we can sure try to go with what we consider the more natural way in which animals were tended.  Organic has not been our thing, and it hasn't needed to be when we were living in western Washington where farmer's markets ruled over supermarket produce. I love seeing fresh produce - it excites the senses.   Now we are in eastern Washington where farmer's markets really rule - every day of the week, spring through autumn.

Shifting from grains to meat is an odd feeling, having spent many years avoiding red meat, avoiding meat, reduced to chicken and the other white meat, pork.  Now even chicken with growth hormones, anti-biotics, no longer free range eaters, I don't feel good about eating supermarket chicken.  Not thinking it will be easy or even frugal to approach food from the Paleo diet perspective, but at this late stage of our lives, would want these golden years to be more golden, and less restrictive than what seems to be happening to us now.  If eating has something to do with healthy well being, and I believe it does, I am choosing to give it a serious try-out.

The point then of this blog will be to collect the recipes we find and that work for us.  If there are readers with thoughts, suggestions to offer, we will gladly entertain ideas,  and if there are few to no readers, that is okay too, as the recipes are intended for our personal use, kind of our personal cookbook for Paleo diet recipes.