Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Tallies

The answer to "what do you eat?" and a couple bonus recipes. Enjoy!

Monday's Food as Fuel:

Breakfast: Spinach salad with 6 oz canned wild salmon, a Granny Smith apple, 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and pecans, and olive oil & lemon juice dressing.

Lunch: Two hardboiled eggs and a can of kippered herring.

Dinner: Mexican Chicken and Cauliflower Soup

Mexican Chicken and Cauliflower Soup

1 medium onion, diced
1 pasilla, diced
1 jalipeno, seeded & minced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs cumin
2 cans chicken broth
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1 cup fresh cauliflower, grated (try it -- it's like rice!)
1 can diced green chilis
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Saute onion, pasilla, jalipeno, and garlic in butter for several minutes, until onions turn yellow. Add cumin and saute 1 minute more. Add broth, chicken, cauliflower, green chilis, and olives. Simmer about 15 minutes. Add cream and stir until hot but not boiling. Serve topped with cheddar. Serves 3.

Monday's Workout: 300 air squats, 100 pushups, and 150 situps for time (21 minutes even). Tougher than it sounds!

Tuesday's Food as Fuel

Exactly the same as Monday, except for lunch, which consisted of a quick Primal Egg and Bacon Salad

Primal Egg and Bacon Salad
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
2 strips bacon, crumbled
3 green olives, chopped
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 Tbs plain, full-fat yogurt

Combine ingredients and serve. Serves 1.

Tuesday's Workout: 5x rotation of heavy lunges, deadlifts, pull-ups, and renegade rows

Totals for both days, once I added in a few tablespoons of coconut milk consumed with peppermint tea and a couple tablespoons of almond butter for dessert, came in around 2,060 calories, 65g carbs, 135g fat, and 110g protein. Perfect.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hottie Hen with a Pig -- Primal Redux

Once upon a roadtrip, my mother and I stumbled upon a brightly painted cafe in the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Stites, Idaho. Inside, we found a menu that included one of the best pizzas I've ever eaten. "Hottie Hen with a Pig" featured a handmade crust topped with the usual sauce and cheese, plus strips of roasted chicken, slices of jalapeno, smoked bacon, and fresh pineapple. It's a meal I've duplicated many times...but not since going primal.

Even Conventional Wisdom knows that pizza is an indulgence, but for the primal eater, it becomes even more so. All that dairy and, worse, all that bread! Many of us are willing to excuse dairy, on occasion, but the carb-laden bread can be, um, harder to swallow. The fat wouldn't be a big deal, except for all those carbs waiting to open the insulin floodgates and shuttle both carbohydrate and fat energy into storage as bodyfat.

Primal and low-carb forums abound with recipes for primal pizza crusts. Some are comprised of baked parmesan, others of grated cauliflower, coconut flour, or almond flour. The only one I've tried was made from shredded zucchini and cheese. It was tasty, but extremely high-calorie (I don't usually worry about calories, but this thing was ridiculous!) and not particularly effective as a substitute crust.

Now, I'm not big on low-carb substitutes for high-carb foods. I'd rather build my meals around foods that are naturally low in carbohydrates than engage in culinary gymnastics with mediocre results. On the rare occasion that I decide to to eat something high carb, I plan for it and enjoy the real thing. But this weekend, when I got to thinking this weekend about Hottie Hen with a Pig ... and my planned Christmas indulgences ... I decided to try something new.

Another primal blogger (can anybody remind me who?) has written about his experiments with meatzza, a pizza-like concoction with a "crust" of ground beef. What would happen, I wondered, if I turned that Hottie Hen into a crust instead of a topping? The answer? Good things. You gotta try this.

Hottie Hen with a Pig

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup tomato paste
1.5 tsp dried oregano
2 oz cheese, shredded (I used mozzarella and parmesan)
2 slices bacon, crisped and broken into pieces
1/4 cup pineapple, diced
2 Tbs jalapeno, diced (leave the seeds if you like it hot!)
1 Tbs red onion, diced

Place the chicken breast between two sheets of waxed paper. Using a mallet, pound it to 1/4 inch thickness. Saute chicken breast in butter over medium heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Place chicken breast in a pie plate and spread with combined tomato paste and oregano. Top with cheese and remaining ingredients. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice into wedges and serve hot. Serves 1.

575 calories, 21g carbohydrate, 26g fat, 66g protein.

(Compare that to 726 calories, 66g carbs, 30g fat, 55g protein if you put half the chicken breast, along with the other toppings, on 1/3 of a Boboli whole wheat crust.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pumpkin-Banana Noatmeal

Giving up grains wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. The vast majority of the time, I'm quite content to build my meals of vegetables, meat, fruits, eggs, and nuts.

All the same, there's something about 0-degree weather than can make a woman want a huge, steaming bowl of oatmeal swimming in cream. A nice omelet will kill that craving, of course, but today I tried a different route: Noatmeal.

Yes, yes, this concoction is relatively high carb. Winter squash, including pumpkin, and bananas are outliers in the primal eating world because, as produce goes, they're both quite high in sugar. A bowl of this noatmeal will run you about 55 grams of carbs. PANIC! Um, no. I'm having a Melissa Urban moment on this one.

Besides, this meal fits nicely into into a day during which I consumed only about 30 carbs up until dinnertime, slammed out a tough metcon workout, and manually hauled 80 gallons of water from garage to horse paddocks because the outdoor spigots are frozen. Deal with it.

I can't claim all the credit (well, okay, I can claim hardly any of the credit) for this recipe. I got the idea from another poster at the MDA forums. I even stole the term "no-atmeal" from a different non-cereal recipe Mark posted recently. Worse yet, I don't even have a photo for you because my desktop computer is currently languishing with an expired video card, which means that while I can, technically, access my photo processing software, I can't actually see anything on the screen. So. Use your imagination.

Pumpkin-Banana Noatmeal

1 medium banana
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil (the MDA poster noted that cream cheese works, too)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp salt
pinch cloves
chopped nuts

Chop the banana into very small cubes (the size of corn niblets). Mix together all ingredients except nuts. Cook in a heavy saucepan over low heat until hot, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Serve topped with chopped nuts and more coconut milk, if desired. Serves 1.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It's been nearly two months since I last posted. Life went crazy for a while, and it's only now that I'm able to downshift long enough to consider how my primal journey was affected by a combination of office-induced stress and long hours. I'm delighted to note that the changes have been both dramatic and positive:

1) I'm content without eating for long periods.

For as long as I can remember, I've hauled healthful snacks everywhere lest I be beset by a "hypoglycemic moment." You know the feeling -- that sudden, lightheaded, weak, must-eat-NOW-or-I'll-gnaw-off-my-own-bicep, carb-crashing hunger.

So ingrained was my assumption that if I didn't eat every few hours, I'd be in for some serious suffering, that it took me most of these past two months to trust my body not to do that anymore. But it doesn't. It really, truly doesn't. I can happily metabolize body fat for energy for fifteen hours or more, workouts included. Hunger is a gentle nudge instead of a raging beast. I am boundless!

2) I no longer need to count carbs.

Using Fitday and My Fitness Pal for my first few months of primal living had value. It enabled me to memorize the carb content of the foods I eat most frequently, and it gave me a good feel for primal macronutrient balance. However, tracking food intake is undeniably time-consuming, and when I saw myself running short on hours, I figured I ought to try flying solo.

It works. I haven't counted carbs in two months, except mentally, but I know I've dropped my daily intake from about 150g to 90-100g per day. Usually, my food days look something like this (yesterday's menu):

Breakfast -- Spinach salad with apple, fresh cranberries, walnuts, pecans, 6 oz canned wild salmon, and lemon-olive oil dressing.

Lunch -- Leftover Thai chicken and coconut soup with veggies.

Dinner -- Hamburger (no bun) with a melted cheddar, half an avocado, butter-sauteed onions and mushrooms, and a dill pickle slices. Peppermint tea with coconut cream for dessert.

Today, I had eggs and bacon for breakfast, an apple with almond butter for lunch, and I'm roasting a turkey roasting for dinner, to be served with lightly steamed green beans and mashed cauliflower.

3) My workouts are more flexible.

Everyone who knows me well (or even not-so-well) knows that I thrive on structure. I am the queen of lists, spreadsheets, and self-discipline. Granted, this is a positive quality...but it can be taken too far and become a stressor in its own right. The past couple months of business and winter weather have forced me to flex not only the timing of my workouts, many of which moved from 4:30 a.m. to afternoon or evening, but often their nature as well.

Lack of sleep, extra meetings, and high stress levels convinced me of the value of listening to my body from day to day. As Mark Sisson notes in his definitive work The Primal Blueprint (have you read it yet?), it's often best to pay attention when I don't feel up to the killer workout for which I'md scheduled -- or to throw in a few unplanned sprints on my evening walk, if I feel particularly energetic.

I haven't worked out any less than usual, but I have certainly worked out less rigidly. My heavy workouts are as heavy as ever, my push-up and pull-up counts continue to climb, and despite a travel-induced shortage of sprint sessions, today's hill repeats were up to par. The message? Keep the self-discipline. Lose the schedule.

Ok, the changes are good. Thank you, Life. I heard you. Now, could we please settle back down to normal? Please?