Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday Tallies: Primal Menus & Movement

Welcome to Tuesday Tallies, my weekly answer to the FAQs: What do you eat? and Good gravy, woman, how much do you work out?

(For those who prefer not to slog through the details, the brief answers are, respectively, a lot and not as much as you'd think.)

Primal living is hardly a matter of dietary deprivation or physical exhaustion. To paraphrase primal guru Mark Sisson: Eat real food. Move around a lot at a slow pace. Lift heavy things. Sprint occasionally. Get enough sleep.

In other words, it's a simple matter of living well, eating the right foods, and working out smart instead of long. Below are samples of my attempt to do precisely that:

Wednesday's Food as Fuel:

Vegetable and sausage omelet. Cherry tomatoes with olive oil and lime.
Apple with almond butter.
Spinach salad with black olives and hard boiled eggs.
Sardines in mustard sauce. Sundried tomatoes.
Chukar fried in butter with fresh herbs. Pork tenderloin. Sauteed vegetables. Spinach salad with avocado, artichoke hearts, and olives.
A couple beers and some whiskey.

2,464 calories, 113g carbs, 145g fat, 122g protein

Wednesday's Workout:

Rest day from formal workout. Slept in instead!
12 mile equine endurance conditioning ride with some running beside the horse.
Farm chores and general activity.

Thursday's Food as Fuel:

Spinach salad with avocado and hard boiled eggs. Grapes.
Coconut and White Fish Stir Fry.
Primal nut and coconut mix.
Two hard boiled eggs. Cucumber slices with feta.
Chicken breast with peach chutney. Spaghetti squash sauteed with butter and crisped sage leaves. Cherry tomatoes.
Dark chocolate and coconut milk.

2,217 calories, 107g carbs, 157g fat, 123g protein

Thursday's Workout:

5x rotation of push-ups, heavy squats, and overhead presses
3x renegade rows
2x pull-ups

Sunday's Food as Fuel:

Coconut milk.
Primal Hamburger Casserole (recipe coming later this week). Egg over easy.
Spinach salad with tuna.
Apple with almond butter.
Turkey drumstick and thigh, with skin.
Dark chocolate and green tea with coconut milk.

2,034 calories, 71g carbs, 137g fat, 147g protein

Sunday's Workout:

6x rotation of incline push-ups, weighted walking lunges, pull-ups, and weighted hanging leg raises

Primal living: So easy, a caveman could do it! ;)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Sky to Skillet: Ironman Takes Primal to a New Level

Ironman has been showing me up on the primal front, lately -- and he doesn't even claim to be primal! (He has been experimenting with grain elimination, however, with positive results including decreased "hunger crashes.")

Yes, while I've been sitting in my office shuffling papers, Ironman has been traversing Idaho's wild hillsides with a rifle in one hand and eyes peeled for game birds.

Last week, he managed to bag not one, not two, but four sage grouse. These large-chicken-sized birds live on sagebrush leaves and insects, and Ironman's fellow hunters warned him that they make lousy eating. Not one to waste a kill, Ironman decided to try it anyway.

After putting the grouse meat through two, long brine soaks (he changd the saltwater out halfway through), Ironman dusted the meat with seasoned flour and panfried it in butter with plenty of garlic and capers. It was incredible! Not gamey at all, the grouse featured beautifully in a meal that also included herb-sauteed vegetables, spinach salad, and an appetizer of fresh, grilled trout.

Yes, we were pretty happy with ourselves. Can you tell?

A few days later, he brought in a chukar. Native to Eurasia and first introduced to North America in the late 1800's, these wily little gamebirds yield small but tasty breasts. Here's one:

We fried him up in butter -- the chukar, not Ironman! -- along with fresh sage leaves (culinary sage, that is, not sagebrush), which turn delightfully crisp when removed from the pan. He was delicious.
Hmm. I think I can deal with being outdone once in a while. ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Go Figure

I once dated a guy who told me I was too fat. His reasoning? The insides of my upper thighs touched each other.

I'm sorry to say that, presumably because I was young and brainwashed by our weight-obsessed culture, his comment affected me for years. It became a measure by which I assessed my own fitness, which was never poor, but wasn't always peak, either. I recall with dismay the internal monologue: My thighs are touching! Crap! Gotta run more! (Wrong.)

This past March, while still eating flegan, I dived into a fitness regime unprecedented by anything I'd tried before, including my distance running days. A friend put me onto bodyweight training and Tabata, hill sprints and weight lifting.

In my typically obsessive manner, I devoured literature on the subject of strength training and HIIT (high intensity interval training). Plenty of science backed it up, but the best proof of all was the changes in my own physique. By June, I was leaner than I'd ever been. My biceps earned admiration from colleagues, and the shadow of a six-pack appeared in my midsection. I was getting close to doing the first pull-up of my life. And, my thighs didn't touch. Score!

Then, something changed. Along about July, my fitness efforts bogged down in a quagmire of fatigue, bloating, and poor quality sleep. I looked pretty good, but I felt worse and worse. What on earth was I doing wrong?

My research led me first to the possibility of removing grains from my diet. It took me two months of reading to accept that the "healthy whole grains" that comprised nearly half of my daily intake could actually be wreaking cumulative damage on my intestines due to glucose intolerance, or simply the toxins such foods contain.

By the time I was convinced that going grain-free was worth a try, I'd also come around to understanding the detrimental effects of excessive carbohydrate intake. Thus began my shift to primal eating, which I embraced whole-heartedly by mid-August.

Now, looking down the barrel of October with a growing set of Tuesday Tallies documenting my new eating patterns (low carb, high fat, moderate protein) and continued bodybuilding and sprint workouts, I have replaced bloating and fatigue with muscle mass and power.

There's just one problem: My thighs touch.

I confess this bothered me, when I first noticed it a few weeks back. Were the primal advocates wrong? Would all that new thigh muscle make me look fat? How about the newly-defined obliques that both strengthened and thickened my core? Was I losing the figure I'd worked months to achieve?

Yes, the questions bothered me...but not nearly as much as the thought of giving up my workouts. After all, my primary goal had always been to achieve a high level of functional strength and cardiovascular endurance -- and I'd never felt better nor been more powerful! No way was I going to sacrifice athleticism for cultural ideals.

All the same, I was most gratified to stumble across the photo below.

I'm no professional pole-vaulter, but I'm proud to say that my physique doesn't fall too far short of this chick's. I'm no guy, either, but I think she's pretty damn hot -- sculpted obliques, touching thighs, and all.

Go figure.

Related Resources:

The Definitive Guide to Grains from Mark's Daily Apple

The Real Truth About Those "Healthy Whole Grains" from Fitness Spotlight

Unexpected Effects of a Wheat-Free Diet from Heart Scan Blog

The Definitive Guide to Fats from Mark's Daily Apple

Fats: The Real Story and Why You Need Them from Fitness Spotlight

Saturated Fat Intake vs Heart Disease & Stroke from Free the Animal

Sugar is Poison -- a link from Fathead to Dr. Lustig's excellent video presentation. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Further Adventures with Coconut & Fish

I seem to have developed a new addiction. The combination of fish and coconut, particularly with a generous helping of mixed vegetables, is remarkably seductive. It wasn't long ago that I posted this Thai Fish and Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk. Last week, I threw together this 10-minute meal of Coconut Mahi-Mahi with Tomato-Avocado Salad.

Yesterday, after an evening of riding lessons and farm chores, Ironman and I whipped up a quick meal featuring similar flavors in another form: Coconut and White Fish Stir Fry. Unfortunately, I failed to take a photo of the dish before inhaling it along with a dessert of sliced bananas and strawberries topped with a bit of dark chocolate and coconut milk, so you'll just have to imagine its bright vegetables, white flakes of fish, and flavorful, orange sauce.

Coconut and White Fish Stir Fry

12 oz cooked, firm white fish, separated into large flakes (We used red snapper last night, baked just like the Coconut Mahi-Mahi in the link above.)
6 cups julienned vegetables (We used carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, onion, tomatoes, and spinach. Note that the spinach doesn't count toward the 6 cups!)
2 Tbs Coconut oil
1/2 Tbs fresh chili paste
Lime juice
1/3 cup coconut flakes, dried and unsweetened

Heat coconut oil in wok or large skillet. Add veggies and saute quickly, stirring frequently; season with chili paste and a generous squeeze of lime. Add fish and allow to heat briefly, stirring gently. Plate and top stir fry with a sprinkle of coconut flakes. Serves 3-4.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Tallies

Welcome to Tuesday Tallies!

Below are day-in-the life samples of the primal lifestyle. They're not intended to be exemplary for everyone -- just honest snapshots of what's working (or not) for one Idaho farmgirl.

This week, I've been considering whether I'm eating too much protein. I'm certainly taking in more than the commonly-recommended 1 gram per pound of lean bodyweight, but thus far, I've come across no evidence that this is dangerous or undesirable.

I'll tell you this: I've certainly built muscle mass since going primal! This despite the fact that I've eased off on my workout schedule slightly in favor of additional sleep. Just more evidence that being flegan wasn't best for bodybuilding...

Feel free to share your own tallies or recipes in the comments. We could all use a few, fresh ideas!

Thursday's Food as Fuel:

Spaghetti squash with coconut milk and cashews. (This is a fantastic oatmeal substitute for those who like a hot, slightly-sweet breakfast.)
Greek salad with chicken and spinach. Jicama strips and guacamole.
Banana with almond butter.
Veggie and sausage omelet cooked in butter.

2,438 calories, 132g carbs, 184g fat, 97g protein

Thursday's Workout:

6x 100-yard hill sprints
Thrusters (squat & overhead press with light weight) and pull-ups
3.5 mile dog walk

Friday's Food as Fuel:

Spinach salad with canned salmon, avocado, and almonds.
Hard boiled eggs (2).
Curried chicken salad with broccoli, carrots, grapes, and walnuts.
Coconut Mahi-Mahi with Tomato-Avocado Salad.
Apple with almond butter.

2,276 calories, 135g carbs, 142g fat, 136g protein

Friday's Workout:

6x rotation of heavy squats, incline push-ups, and overhead presses
3x rotation of Tabata hops and pull-ups
10 mile equine endurance conditioning ride

Sunday's Food as Fuel:

Peach with coconut milk.
Vegetable and sausage frittata.
Bigos (Polish hunter's stew with poetry to match).
Mixed nuts and coconut flakes.
Spinach salad with avocado and olives.
Coconut milk and dark chocolate.

2,301 calories, 105g carbs, 159g fat, 125 g protein

Sunday's Workout:

Rest day, but very active with horse training, housework, and farm chores.
2.5 mile dog walk.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fat Guacamole Devils

Confession: I'm still adjusting to the concept of intentionally and preferentially adding fat to my diet. It's just so contrary to everything I've ever been taught! But, it makes sense when you consider how your body processes food:

Dietary fat does not raise blood sugar (which the body recognizes as toxic in excess), so there is no need for the body to generate an insulin rush whereby to hustle said blood sugar into its cells, where it is stored as body fat. That's what carbohydrates do. Fat, on the other hand, triggers the release of a different hormone -- one that indicates satiety to the brain, so you stop eating and your body can happily process its safe, non-insulin-spiking fuel. (This process is explained beautifully in a brief video of the Drs. Eades, provided by Fathead.)

So, eating fat not only notifies the brain that you're full, instead of setting you up for an insulin crash and resultant hunger even though your fat cells are freshly stocked with fuel, as carbohydrates do, but it provides a fuel that your body can safely burn for hours to come. Dietary fat is not stored as body fat! Plus, it tastes good!

This quick, easy, high fat, low carb, moderate protein snack is one of my new favorites. Check out the recipe, which I was honored to have featured at my favorite primal blog, Mark's Daily Apple.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simply Primal: A 10 Minute Meal

I love to cook, and I usually schedule my evenings such that I have plenty of time to prepare a nice meal. But you know how it is. Some evenings refuse to go as planned. Fortunately, primal meals can be almost laughably simple.

This evening after work, I had such fun out on an endurance conditioning ride with my horse that I added a few miles -- and half an hour -- to our loop. We returned happy but sweaty, so I spent some extra time hosing her off after unsaddling. Then, I still had evening chores to do...

By the time I came inside, I didn't really want to spend much time in the kitchen. A quick look at My Fitness Pal told me that I should shoot for a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein meal to finish out the day. Here's what I came up with:

Coconut Mahi-Mahi with Tomato-Avocado Salad

It was delicious, and it took me all of 10 minutes' prep time. (That includes a trip to my garden to pick the tomatoes.) Here's what I did:

1) Coat tops of mahi-mahi fillets with coconut oil and unsweetened, dried coconut. Put in a 375 degree oven.

2) Slice tomatoes and avocado. Dress lightly with olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

3) Serve when fish is done (bake time is approximately 20 minutes for 4-oz fillets).

Nutritional stats for this meal, assuming 1 4-oz fillet, 1 cup tomatoes, and 1 whole, small avocado per serving: 674 calories, 30g carbohydrate, 53g fat, 18g protein


Friday, September 11, 2009

A Tale of Oregon Elk: On Food and Gratitude

When I was in high school, my family owned a whitewater rafting company. Our offerings of four- to seven-day expedition trips down wilderness rivers attracted mostly outdoor-types from the West, but we also booked the occasional city slicker.

Mary Jo, a hefty and good-natured soul with glossy, black curls and florid cheeks, was one of the latter. She hailed from Boston and was startled to learn that there really wasn't any point in packing her alarm clock in her waterproof gear bag. (Nope, not even with an extension cord.)

Along about Day 3 of Mary Jo's trip, we were floating through open range, where cattle spend the summer feeding on the vast acreage of public lands. Mary Jo, spotting a pair of Herefords drinking along the bank, exclaimed, "Look! Wildlife! What kind of animals are those?"

Sure Mary Jo was kidding, the nearest guide joked, "Oh, those are Oregon elk. They're very rare!" Imagine his surprise when Mary Jo pulled out her camera and started clicking away. He did some fast talking to spare our guest the embarrassment of hauling out her photo album and showing all her friends back home the elusive "Oregon elk," which almost anybody would recognize immediately as garden-variety cattle.

That night in camp, we served up an Italian feast of wine, garlic bread, salad, and spaghetti with marinara and meatballs. Mary Jo ate with her usual gusto. Watching her from across the circle of canvas chairs in the fading light, I wondered if she had even a passing thought connecting her "wildlife" sighting with the meal rapidly disappearing from her plate. I was saddened to conclude, probably not.

Saddened, I say, because although Mary Jo may have been an extreme case, she is far from an anomaly. Too many people these days believe that food comes from the grocery store. I once heard of a woman who, listening in on a discussion about the danger a single plant disease could pose to our inadequately-diverse food supply, said "Oh, I'm sure they'll always have flour at the store." She, like Mary Jo, clearly had no concept of the sacrificial exchange that fuels our bodies.

We the People, with our fast food joints and deep freezes, are so far separated from farm life that we rarely consider that from the T-bones we gnaw once hung the loin of a cow with a swishing tail and liquid eyes. That neat mound of poultry breast was made to nestle warm about a clutch of eggs. Those egg yolks formed to nourish chicks 'til they grew large enough to hatch.

Now, I'm not saying I have a moral problem with eating meat or eggs, any more than I have one with tearing carrots from the soil and scattering my salad with their precious roots. Zucchini grow to ensure there is seed for the next generation, not to be sauteed in my breakfast hash, but saute them I do, anyway. To live is to take other lives. Any farmer knows there's no escaping the fact, no denying it, no point feeling guilty about it.

But I do believe there is benefit in understanding it -- not just believing it intellectually, but experiencing it firsthand -- for in understanding there is value, and in value, gratitude.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to be reared in agricultural country are probably at least halfway there. We visited u-pick orchards every fall, plucked wild blackberries from their vines, perhaps retrieved eggs from the nests of disgruntled hens. Some of us even fattened stock for slaughter.

I was eight the first time I observed the death our annual beef cow. The man from the packing plant shot her three times, right there in our barn, before her sway turned to a topple and her topple to utter collapse. He hooked a chain to her hind legs and winched her outside to his truck, where he peeled away her chestnut coat and spilled her foul-smelling offal among the weeds. My mother worried that I, an empathetic child who had bottle fed that animal as a calf, would be put off our daily meals of hamburgers and steak. But I was untroubled. Somehow, with the innate wisdom of the very young, I understood.

Not all children have such opportunities. One of my best friends grew up in the jungles of Chicago. He claims once to have stumbled over a pile of milk bottles and thought he'd found a cow's nest. Does that mean he shouldn't be permitted to eat meat, because he hasn't paid his dues?

Of course not. But I do think it means he should look for opportunities to connect with the lives and deaths that feed him. From farmers markets to bookstores, there is plenty of recourse for those who wish to understand their meals. A number of authors have addressed the concept of late, all from different perspectives. Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma), Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), and most recently, Lierre Keith (The Vegetarian Myth) come readily to mind.

For the most adventurous -- and wisest? -- more creativity could lead one to a farm on butchering day, to feel the blood from chickens' throats run hot across his fingers, see the feathers float on scalding water and stick like rain soaked leaves to pluckers' wrists. She might pull the trigger that ploughs a painless path through the brain of a hog, or gut a fish from the neighbor's pond, or even simply gather the bosoms of ripe onions as they press up from the soil, or strip peas from their pods, or sever the stems of living herbs to rub beneath a turkey's freshly-denuded skin.

One of the most poignant experiences of my life occurred on a blustery day in early spring at In the Night Farm. A freshly-slaughtered lamb had hung for several days from the north deck, aging beneath its burlap wrap. Meanwhile, out beyond the horse paddocks, lambing had begun. I spent the entire day running between the kitchen, where I rinsed and packaged chunks of carcass for later meals, and the lambing jugs, where I knelt in the hay to draw colostrum from ewes' udders and coax it down the fragile throats of newborn lambs.

I ate lamb that night, with the smell of sheep's milk still strong upon my hands. The following winter, I butchered the wooley babies whose lifes I had saved. Come spring, I nurtured several more.

Death. Life. Death feeding life feeding death feeding life. The unbroken circle. Don't feel guilty. But please, don't forget. Real food costs more than pennies for pounds.

This post is participating in Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade. Stop by and see what else is on the menu!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Tallies: Primal Menus & Movement

Welcome to Tuesday Tallies!

Below are day-in-the-life samples of the primal lifestyle. They're not intended to be exemplary for everyone -- just honest snapshots of what's working (or not) for one Idaho farmgirl. Use them to get a feel for what primal living looks like on a daily basis, as a jumping-off point if you're on the edge of taking the primal plunge, or as creative sparks for primal veterans.

Feel free to share your own tallies in the comments. We could all use a few fresh ideas!

Tuesday's Food as Fuel:

Green grapes.

Spinach salad with hard boiled eggs, avocado, mixed veggies, and peach-balsamic viniagrette.

Mixed raw nuts with coconut flakes.

Thai Fish & Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk and crudites with yogurt-dijon-dill dip.

Apple with almond butter.

Lamb chop with mint-walnut pesto. Zucchini and carrots lightly sauteed in butter.

Pear, dried figs, and Havarti.

2219 calories, 156g carbs, 152g fat, 85g protein

Tuesday's Workout:

8x 100-meter hill sprints.

Farm chores and horse dancing.

Wednesday's Food as Fuel:

Grapes and a few almonds.

Crustless spinach, onion, and zucchini quiche and crudites with yogurt-dijon-dill dip.

Lamb chop with mint-walnut pesto and apple with almond butter.

Leftover Thai Fish & Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk

Primal Dessert Salad with Berry-Orange Dressing

1,966 calories, 154g carbs, 126g fat, 80g protein

Wednesday's Workout:

6x rotation of weighted squats, incline push-ups, pull-ups, and planks.

Farm chores.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Packing Primal: Meal Planning Hits the Trail

I find primal meal planning extraordinary simply at home, but as with any diet that diverges significantly from the Standard American Diet, it can be hard to maintain on the road. This weekend, I'm headed into the wilderness to compete in the Old Selam Endurance Ride -- an equestrian challenge for which I want to be well-nourished on a familiar diet.

The good news is that I'm doing the meal planning, so I have full control over what I'll consume. However, there are a few complicating factors:
  • No refrigeration. Instead, I'll have an ice chest with limited space.
  • Little prep time. I've been to enough endurance races to know that cooking becomes a low priority in the heat of competition. I'll have a camp stove, but little interest in making a big production of it. I have a horse to care for!
  • Others' needs. My significant other, who can outrun, outswim, and outcycle me any day of the week and shall henceforth be known as Ironman, is all for eating clean. However, as an endurance athlete, he goes for more carbs than I do, and he doesn't eliminate grains. Our meals should accommodate both diets, which gets tricky when you can't take the entire refrigerator and pantry along.
  • Energy requirements. This is an athletic competition. I'll need extra, non-grain, low-glycemic-index carbs to pull it off, but I want to remain focused on dietary fats for the bulk of my fuel. It's a matter of striking the right balance!
Here's the solution I've come up with. Hopefully, it'll be useful next time you find yourself in a similar situation...and if you have any brilliant suggestions for me, please share in the comments!

Saturday's Lunch on the Road -- Turkey and avocado wraps (in romaine leaves for me, and in tortillas for Ironman). Jicama, apple, and grape salad with lemon-mint dressing.

Saturday's Dinner in Ridecamp -- Stifado (pre-made and reheated). Spinach salad with mixed raw vegetables and peach viniagrette. Larabars. Cabernet and dark chocolate (hey, we're here to have fun!)

Sunday's Breakfast Pre-Race -- Banana with almond butter. Cold Hay Day Hash (Pre-made. Ironman will have time to reheat his and cook eggs on the stove, if he wishes, but I'll need to get saddled up for an 8:00 a.m. start time.)

Sunday's Lunch Mid-Race -- Southwest chicken salad with olives, crudites and dip, hard boiled eggs, and plums. (I'll be eating this during the mandatory hold, during which most of my time will be spent caring for my horse instead of preparing food, though Ironman's help will make this a lot easier.)

Sunday's Dinner Post-Race -- Beef enchiladas (filling pre-made) with avocado and olives (in tortillas for Ironman, in a bowl for me). Coleslaw made with carrots, apples, raisins, and cinnamon. Celebratory (or possibly conciliatory) whiskey and dark chocolate.

Monday's Breakfast in Ridecamp -- Apple with almond butter. Hard boiled eggs. Larabars. (Basically, whatever is handy as we pack up for an early departure.)

Snacks -- Primal Energy Mix, Larabars, and kippered herring to our hearts' content. And, okay, beer.

Ride on!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Primal Energy Mix

Many primals consume a lot of nuts, and for good reason. They're simple, energy-dense, and full of healthful fats. Trail mix is a popular snacking recommendation -- but you have to be careful with commercial mixes.

Most commercial trail mixes are made with roasted nuts, whose fats are damaged, and contain added salt or sugar. It can also be hard to find mixes without pusedo-chocolate or other candy pieces, which naturally jack up carb/sugar intake and tend to spur cravings that can result in excessive consumption of otherwise-healthful nuts. Fortunately, it's easy to make your own mix from quality ingredients.

I concocted this Primal Energy Mix specifically for use during extended physical exertion, such as when participating in equestrian endurance racing or long conditioning rides. For snacking on regular days, I make a similar mix without the dried fruit, which adds more carbs than I need for sitting in front of a computer all afternoon.

Primal Energy Mix

2 parts raw almonds
2 parts raw walnuts
1 part raw cashews
1 part coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 part dried fruit, unsweetened and unsulfered (I like figs and home-dried apricots.)

Combine in a large bowl or zip-top storage bag. Store, airtight, in a cool and dark location to protect those precious fats!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thai Fish & Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk

Ahh, coconut. The darling of primals everywhere, coconut is a richly satisfying source of healthful (yes, healthful!) saturated fats. Rarely does a day go by that I don't use coconut milk and oil, or at least consume a few unsweetened, dried coconut flakes in my homemade trail mix. I cook in coconut oil and use the canned, full-fat version of coconut milk for topping bowls of berries or other fruit, blending in smoothies and salad dressings, making flavorful curries, accompanying a half-ounce of dark chocolate for dessert, dressing up black coffee, and making soups like this one.

This Thai-inspired dish comes together quickly for a weeknight supper that reheats well for lunch the next day. Like most soups, it's flexible, so feel free to add additional vegetables such as carrot and zucchini. Serve with a dish of sliced cucumbers drizzled with sesame oil.

Thai Fish & Vegetable Soup with Coconut Milk

2 Tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 medium onions, julienned
1 large pasilla, julienned
2 cans vegetable stock (14.5 oz cans)
1 1/2 cans coconut milk (14.5 oz cans)
3 cups fresh tomatoes, sliced into large pieces
3 cups cauliflower, chopped into large florets
1 Tbs fresh chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz white fish, cooked and broken into bite-sized chunks (I used baked mahi mahi, but you could use any firm, white fish and your cooking method of choice.)
1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
Lime wedges (optional, for garnish)

Heat coconut oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and saute 5 minutes; add pasilla and saute 3 minutes more. Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, vegetables, chile paste, and salt. Simmer 15 minutes or until cauliflower is al dente. Add fish and heat through. Stir in basil and allow to wilt immediately prior to serving. Garnish with lime wedges or finish with a squeeze of lime juice, if desired.

Serves 8.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Tallies: Primal Menus & Movement

Welcome to Tuesday Tallies!

Below are day-in-the-life samples of the primal lifestyle. They're not intended to be exemplary for everyone -- just honest snapshots of what's working (or not) for one Idaho farmgirl. Use them to get a feel for what primal living looks like on a daily basis, as a jumping-off point if you're on the edge of taking the primal plunge, or as creative sparks for primal veterans.

Feel free to share your own tallies in the comments. We could all use a few fresh ideas!

Tuesday's Food as Fuel:


Scrambled eggs and broccoli. Cottage cheese with mixed fruit.

Spinach salad with canned salmon, garden tomatoes, black olives, and southwest dressing.

Two hard boiled eggs and crudites with yogurt-dill dip.

Trail mix (Nuts, dried fruit, and a few white chocolate & butterscotch chips that made me crave carbs for the rest of the day. Bad idea. Better to stick with just the nuts.)

Stifado (Beef simmered with red wine, onions, tomatoes, and warm spices. This is a Cooking Light recipe that I highly recommend. I made the recipe as written, with one exception: I didn't have beef broth, so I subbed vegetable broth plus a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.)

Coconut cream and 1/2 ounce extra dark chocolate.

2364 calories, 201 g carbs, 108 g fat, 161 g protein

Tuesday's Workout:

3x max-out sets of push-ups, air squats, pull-ups, hanging leg raises, and overhead presses.

Farm chores and horse training.


Friday's Food as Fuel:


Spinach salad with 2 hard boiled eggs, avocado, jicama, carrot, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, mushrooms, and lemon-dijon dressing made with olive oil.

Chicken cacchetore (no pasta -- just chicken, marinara, and parmisan) with garlic-sauteed zucchini. (Next time, I'll forgo the cheese, as it made me feel slightly bloated all afternoon.)

1.5 ounces of almonds and walnuts.

Primal Dessert Salad with Berry-Orange Dressing.

Balsamic roasted carrots, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Leftover stifado.

1/2 cup mango with coconut cream.

2129 calories, 179 g carbs, 114 g fat, 120 g protein
Friday's Workout:

Rest day from formal workout.

4.5 miles brisk dog walks, with a bit of running thrown in for fun.

Extra farm chores (raking and shoveling) in anticipation of hay delivery.


Saturday's Food as Fuel:

Hay Day Hash with two eggs over easy.

Banana with almond butter.

Spinach salad with grilled chicken, avocado, broccoli, carrot, jicama, mushrooms, and lemon-dijon dressing.

Trail mix (Yes, the kind with the candy chips. In the midst of intense physical labor, that bit of sugar isn't a major problem, health-wise, but I still found it hard to put the stuff down. Good thing I ran out. I won't buy it again.)

Baked spaghetti squash with marinara.

Peach with coconut cream.

2314 calories, 194 g carbs, 131 g fat, 113 g protein

Saturday's Workout:

5 hours unloading and stacking 100-lb bales of hay. That'll do a girl in!

But, there are still chores waiting...

Thoughts on the week:

I'm still experimenting with the right number of carbs for me. Tuesday was quite high (in anticipation of stacking 2,800 lbs of hay on Wednesday morning), as was Saturday (more hay hauling!) I felt energetic all week -- more than when I kept carbs below 150 -- so it may be that this diet was appropriate for the week's effort.

But what's with all the dairy? Cottage cheese, yogurt, and some hard cheese? Sure, it totaled less than a cup of dairy all week, but that's more than I'd normally eat in a month. Blech. I feel better without the stuff, even though I'm of Swedish descent and not particularly lactose intolerant. It just makes me feel slightly bloated and "heavy."

This week's workouts were strange, too, considering the unusually high quantity of real-world labor in place of formal workouts. I feel like I didn't do enough squats and pull-ups, but that's a mental issue, not a physical one. You can bet your booties I did more than enough pushing, pulling, and lifting to compensate...and isn't functional strength what it's all about? I train most of the year so I can do real work when it needs to be done.