Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Produce and Protein Fail

I’ve officially decided that I fail the P&P challenge. It was never meant to be, although I might do my own, personal challenge later on.

Strike One: There was a hurricane. I lost power for 26 hours and had to resort to what was left in the fridge plus some shelf-stable foods. Got enough protein, but not a lot of fresh produce.

Strike Two: With power out, I couldn’t shop for groceries until yesterday evening (no fridge), so the no-fresh-produce situation was extended through lunch yesterday.

Strike Three: My husband is out of town, so I’m not terribly motivated to cook. I’m still doing it, mind you, but I’m being a little looser about the whole thing.

So there you go. I’m not really doing the produce and protein challenge, although, now that I have fridge full of healthiness, I am going back to big salads for lunch and meat/fish/eggs + veggies for dinner. So kind of sticking to it, but not being regimented about it.

Salad and Fat

I had an interesting exchange with a coworker the other day.  He was complaining that he was starving because he just had salad for dinner the night before.  I made a joke about how salad isn’t a meal, which is funny because I bring a giant salad for lunch everyday.  The coworker pointed out this humor and then said “Well, I guess your salad is more filling because you eat, like, a half a stick of butter with it.”

Well, excuse me for liking butter with my bread.  And also, um, yeah.

That’s why fat-free salad dressings are pointless and adding cheese/eggs/olives/meat to your salad is such a good thing.  The fat helps, both in terms of satisfaction and in terms of nutrients absorbed.  Take my lunch salad today for example:

Delicious, right?

Looks super-healthy, what with that variety of veggies and heart-healthy salmon.  But that’s so not a full meal.  I’m going to add a generous helping of homemade, olive-oil-based dressing.  And, of course, my “half a stick of butter,” which is really just a homemade, soaked, whole-grain roll with a couple tablespoons of pastured butter.  Delicious, and very nourishing.

I’ve decided to participate in The Nourishing Gourmet’s “Protein and Produce” challenge, and challenge myself to eat 3 servings of quality protein (eggs, meat, fish, or raw cheese) and 4 cups of veggies, at least, every day.  My lunch salad goes a long way towards this, but it only counts if I eat it with plenty of fat to absorb those nutrients!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

I Eat What I Eat

There’s always a fair amount of talk around the traditional and paleo eating blogosphere about how to explain paleo/traditional eating to neophytes. I like some treatments and dislike others, as is typical in most things in life. In particular, I tend to dislike explanations that focus on rules and what not to eat, rather than the spirit of evolutionarily-appropriate nutrition. I dislike approaches that even mention macronutrient ratios, except to explain that that’s not what it’s really about.

And, when it comes down to it, I dislike explaining how I eat in any concrete terms because I never really follow one way of eating in any sort of dogmatic fashion. I have ideas about what is optimally healthy, and I have ideas about what I find pleasurable enough to ignore some degree of “optimally healthy” and I mix them as I see fit.
In short, I eat what I eat.
If you want to know how you should eat, you really oughtn’t ask me. If you want to hear my arguments concerning the relative health benefits of certain things, especially saturated fats, eggs, and meat, then ask away.
But that’s not a recommendation to what you should eat.
If you cannot bear the thought of eating a fuzzy animal, then every bite of lambchop will be fraught with guilt, and that’s not healthy. We make choices, both based on what we think is best for us AND how it affects us emotionally. Personally, I like dairy foods. I realize that my ridiculous cravings for butter and cream whenever I try to give up dairy are more due to some opiate quality of dairy than an actual, physical need, but I don’t discount the emotional need. And raw cheese and cream are far healthier for me than some other emotionally-driven food choices.
Pick your battles, people. And realize that nutrition, like medicine, is not an exact science. Dr. Campbell has proven, if nothing else, that it is always possible to use biased analysis to support any hypothesis you have. So even if you agree with the spirit of a particular health researcher’s position, take their findings with a grain of salt. Yes, certain things are self-evident, like the fact that large-scale grain consumption would have been impossible before agriculture emerged 10,000 years ago, and that humans evolved for much longer than that. But certain populations have obviously had a head start on certain genetic adaptations. So read the science, and decide what’s worth it.
For me, MSG is very high on the “not worth it” list, not because of any objective scientific research, but because it gives me blinding migraines. But grains are a grayer area. I’m beginning to suspect that I have a specific reaction to gluten, so that might end up on the “not worth it” list shortly. For now, my husband’s homemade bread is definitely worth it, but pizza probably isn’t. Non-gluten grains, especially white rice, are practically a non-issue, as I’m not prone to uncontrolled weight gain.
So, while I agree with most of the tenets of evolutionary and traditional eating, I don’t consider myself a “paleo dieter” any longer. There’s just too much variation to it to be a useful way to describe anything. And, more and more, I’m realizing that nutrition, like spirituality, should be a personal, private journey.
This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Nutrients and Food Cravings

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Most people on the Whole30, it seems, crave sweets or pasta or chips. Me, I was jonesing hard for butter the first two week. This week, it’s liver pate, which contains its fair share of butter. Oh yeah, and cheese.

Yeah, I’ll admit, I had the odd craving for a piece of chocolate or a slice of bread (with butter!), especially after my husband brought his warm, freshly-baked, homemade loaf out of the oven on Sunday.
But really, this week has been all about the liver.
And, oddly enough, I’ve been starting to think I might be deficient in folate, mostly from spot-checking my days’ vitamin values in CRON-o-meter. I generally am hard pressed to make 50% of the RDA. And, odder still, chicken livers are high in folate. Curiouser, and curiouser.
I’ve come to the realization that, in the absence of overstimulating sweeteners and flavor enhancers, my body really loves and craves nutrient-dense, real food. I’ve always been a fan of higher-fat diets, ever since I saw what a diet high in cocoa butter did to my skin and hair (What? I was a high-school senior working at Godiva!). This month’s experiment has clinched it for me. I’m desperately hoping that dairy doesn’t cause any acute reactions for me, because I think that cheese and cream are going right back into my diet, along with butter and yogurt.
Oh, and as for liver, last night’s dinner of beef liver and onions, fried in beef tallow (pictured above) proved me right, at least to myself. Usually the texture of beef liver gives me pause after one slice, but last night I plowed through two full slices practically without coming up for air, and probably could have eaten another!

Following your Joy

Anyone who reads this, or my previous, blog knows that I am passionate about food and health. I love to eat well, and move as often as I can. Lately, however, I’ve been finding myself periodically floundering in my chosen career path (most decidedly not food/health-related) and I’ve toyed with the idea of looking into nutrition consulting, either as a new career or as a way to supplement my life in a more directed way. Personally, I have a lot of experience with various diets, and the ways they affected my health, and I have a strong drive to learn and understand a variety of sides in the diet debate.

I also love spreadsheets and organizing my thoughts, so I think I might be useful to someone who doesn’t think as quantitatively as I, should they want someone to help them put together meals and menu plans the way I do.
But I don’t know where to start. I’ve done some web searching, and even contacted a local nutrition consultant who demonstrates at our farmers market about her trajectory. If anyone has any insight or personal tales on becoming a nutrition consultant, please leave me a comment with your email and I would love to correspond.

Personal Update, or Why I Hate Horny Trees

So the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with allergies. I pretty much only drink nettle infusion, when I feel well enough to even prepare an infusion, and the rest of the time, I supplement with nettle tea. That, plus my neti pot, are keeping me free of sinus infection, so far, but it’s still tough to be congested all the time, sneezy, itchy, and having poor sleep.

Which has led me to my next endeavor, which I discussed earlier today on my food blog. I’m going paleo/primal. For now, I’m keeping dairy (it’s the last step in the PaNu 12-step program), but next week I might cut that, since dairy can cause congestion. We’ll see if it works, but part of the wise woman approach is integrating herbal remedies with lifestyle changes, and paleo nutrition ideas hold a lot of merit, I think. I’m thinking about going orthodox paleo during the month of June.