I love food. I love cooking it (especially for other people) and of course I love eating it. Here are a few of my favorites!
Because some of us have allergies…egg substitutes — not strictly Paleo but sometimes you just have to be flexible, like actual hunter-gatherers
Ultimate Asian Flank Steak Marinade from Just a Taste— this makes for uh-mazing tacos! Slice thinly and place on a corn tortilla with bed of shredded cabbage, guacamole, maybe some sauteed onion and peppers, and some Sriracha. You can thank me later.
Yassa Poulet from The Domestic Man — Russ Crandall can be counted on to create some of the most delicious recipes out there, particularly if you enjoy exploring foods from around the world. This one is a keeper.
Oven Roasted Broccoli from Alton Brown — simple and easy; I omit the bread crumbs and cheese
It took a while for me to acquire the taste for kombucha, but that mango flavor from GT’s Kombucha finally got me hooked. It tastes like fresh mango, it’s delicious! But over $3 per bottle gets pretty pricey, even when I make 1 bottle last two days. Luckily I found this kit on Amazon and decided that it was about time I tried making it myself. It’s still fermenting so I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m excited to see how it turns out. If successful I’ll probably get myself another 1gal jar so I can have two batches going at once, not to mention try some different flavor recipes or try my hand at carbonating it.
A part of me would love to get all science-y on this and do research to support my statements, but ultimately I don’t want to spend time on that. Not (just) because I’m lazy, but because what works for me may not work for you. When it comes to nutrition there is no one-size-fits-all. Every body is different!
So what works for me? I’ll tell you!
Timing: if I haven’t eaten a meal within an hour of my workout, I eat a snack. Some people say they can’t eat before working out, but I don’t have that problem. I perform better if I eat, especially in Metcons.
Composition: my pre-workout snack is typically a carb source and a fat source. I save my proteins for after the workout when my muscles are rebuilding, and post-workout nutrition would normally be a meal with meat and veg.
My go-to is a banana with almond butter or crunchy peanut butter. Yeah yeah, peanuts aren’t Paleo, blah blah blah. I do what I want. I used to have issues with…hmmm. How to label it? Basically I would be working out and my small stabilizer muscles in my legs would become weak, causing my leg to shake under a load (mostly when pushing out from under a load). Since starting to eat bananas this hasn’t been an issue. And I actually don’t like bananas, so I feel like I really stepped up here in being a responsible athlete.
I used to drink electrolytes to address that issue but stopped doing so in January 2015 and have found I don’t actually need them. Bananas are cheaper anyway, plus way more natural.
What do you eat before a workout?
Did you know that Oreos are vegan? Now I’m not vegan, but since I’m allergic to dairy and eggs I generally only eat vegan desserts. This has led to Oreos becoming my dirty little secret cheat. Don’t feel like non-dairy ice cream again, or a bar of dark chocolate? Get Oreos.
Here’s the thing though: I never feel better after eating Oreos. In fact I don’t even feel good. Not in the pure guilt way after eating ice cream. More like the “I feel kind of nauseous and icky” way. So I’m wondering, why do I still eat them?
I’ve found that lots of sugar generally makes me feel nauseous, and with my re-dedication to eating well I’m keenly aware of all the terrible things found in Oreos. This is my question to myself: if it doesn’t help you, in fact hurts your body and performance, and makes you feel sick, perhaps you should stop eating that? It’s a choice, after all.
Also I’m reading The Paleo Approach and just covered the antioxidant section, in which we’re reminded that high-glycemic diets cause much more inflammation than low-glycemic diets. As someone with allergies and sporadic (food-induced) asthma, inflammation is a big deal.
When I went to the farmer’s market the other week I was looking for offal, specifically liver and kidney. I found that and more; I was presented with a bull testicle. High on the “I’m eating the WHOLE ANIMAL” buzz, my boyfriend and I decided to give it a shot. Neither of us has ever eaten testicles or knew how to cook them, but Google. We found a recipe that involved grilling them, which sounded better than the fried or boiled options we came across. As it turns out there’s a reason every recipe (except this one) tells you to remove the membrane: it’s totally inedible. Even my dogs gave up on it; it’s that tough and chewy. The edible parts were actually pretty good, very mild in flavor and a texture similar to a scallop. I would try them again, but sans membrane.
For the kidneys I decided to make no-bean chili; I’ve never had kidneys so I wasn’t sure how “organ-y” they would taste or what the texture would end up as. It turned out really well, aside from having way too much heat for me. I made this again and cut the cayenne entirely, but it was still too hot for me. I think I need to cut some of the chili powder? I’ll try it again! See how pretty the veggies are that go in it?
Bone broth has a reputation for being good for you and having all kinds of health benefits, so I decided to try making it again. I say “again” because I did it once before and it was kind of gross. Actually, I think all broth is gross if you don’t put salt in it, and none of the recipes call for salt. Unfortunately even this recent one, which turned out great, didn’t have salt in it and I didn’t think to add it until after I tasted it and said “huh, this would be pretty good if it was salted; it’s kind of gross without salt.” Do people just drink plain bone broth and go “mmm mmm good!”? Cause I don’t.
That being said, I do want all the benefits of consuming homemade bone broth, so when I saw Stupid Easy Paleo post Bone Broth 101, with both comments on the benefits and tips on how to make it awesome, I decided to do it. And it turned out way better! But it still needs salt, and to be totally honest I haven’t been eating it (it’s a gelatin so I say “eating”). Somehow it doesn’t make to the top of my daily priority list. Guess I should work on that.
Like most people I have thrown a lot of money at supplements – mostly thrown away that money since I either failed to take them reliably or the supplement was probably useless. Very few supplements have any actual science to back up their efficacy, which is something my doctor pointed out the last time I saw her. I decided that it would be wiser to pare it down to the bare minimum, and now I’m taking:
- Standard Process Catayln (whole-food multi with adrenals)
- Metagenics DHA/EPA
- Metagenics Vitamin D
- Scivation Xtend (electrolyte with BCAA’s)
Recently, however, I read Eat The Yolks! by Liz Wolfe and was reminded that supplements are a very recent industrial phenomenon which are absolutely unnecessary if you’re eating fresh, whole, REAL food. Which I do, mostly, but I realized that if I just put a little more effort into eating better I would be able to cut out the pricey supplements while getting even more nutrients and being healthier.
So my new food goals are, in no particular order…
- Eat more organ meats. I’m going to try to sneak it into some bean-less chili or maybe a hash. I love liver but the thought of eating a big hunk of it is intimidating.
- Eat dark, leafy greens. This is hard because I find things like kale to be unpleasantly fibrous and bitter. I need to try chard and collard greens instead, or maybe find a way to cook kale that isn’t gross.
- Go fishing. I live in WA State, so wild-caught salmon is kind of a thing around here. Clearly I need to get in on this.
- Learn to hunt wild game. Obviously this is quite an undertaking since I’ve never gone hunting in my life (but in college I did work in the campus slaughterhouse). However, I have always wanted to learn archery, even before Katniss Everdeen, and there’s nothing more caveman than killing your own food.
- Make my own nut milk. I’m allergic to dairy and I hear that homemade nut milk is more delicious ( and probably more nutritious) than store-bought, so I need to get into this.
- Eat (and make) fermented foods. While bad for your teeth, they are good for your gut. And I grew up on sauerkraut.
- Eat Brazil nuts. They have a lot of selenium, apparently.
- Eat homemade broth every day. It’s good for your gut and hair; I just need to start adding salt so that it actually tastes good by itself.
- Use real salt. Not the stuff that has been stripped of all its minerals.
- Sign up for a CSA and (at least attempt) to grow my own plants. Duh, they will taste better and have more antioxidants. Plus I’ll be supporting local farmers.
- Buy grassfed meat, bones, and offal from local farmers. Better taste, better for me, more nutrition, and supporting local business. WIN.
- Use raw honey as a sweetener. No more fake stuff, even though that means I’m adding a few more carbs and calories to my daily cup of coffee.
- Use cold-pressed oils.
- Eat oily fish. Instead of fish oil pills I can eat the fish itself and get even more synergistic nutrients out of it.
- Consume cod liver oil. It’s a good source of fat soluble vitamins, and chances are I won’t eat enough fish. It’s expensive!
It’s not only that I want to be healthier. Everything we do these days makes a statement to companies about what we want to spend our money on, and they listen. They want our money! So if I spend my money on local, sustainably grown, organic/naturally raised food it makes an economic statement that, with enough time and people, will lead to industry change. Sure, it’s more convenient to go to Costco or the local grocery store and buy produce year-round than to pick up what’s in season at the weekly farmer’s market and come up with something. It’s probably also cheaper in some cases. But being lazy or taking the easy way out isn’t going to lead to a healthy body or a healthy economy. Maybe it seems naïve but if the only way to make change is to choose how I spend my money, I need to spend it in ways that support my core values.