December 29, 2008

What Bad Food Does to You

My past food experiments have involved large doses of sugar and the worst effects have been digestive discomforts to such an extent that I really didn't notice any other ill effects.  This holiday, however, has presented opportunities to observe the effects of large amounts of starchy carbs and grains.

I tried to steer around those things for the most part, but there were two meals at home in which I had lots of corn and potatoes.  We had a low country boil, which is one of my absolute favorite meals.  And then again last night, I went with some friends and had Mexican food in which I had a large margarita and a quesadilla.

I really didn't notice any ill effects from this food until last night, one of which I inadvertently documented for you.  Remember the post about my mind racing?  Well, similar things happened to me last night after my quesadilla dinner.  Thinking back, this seems to be one of the symptoms I experience when my blood sugar spikes at bed time.

Last night, I had restless sleep all night and crazy dreams.  (I even had a dream in which Dr. Monica asked me if I was still cheating on the caveman diet.) And that's when I put it together.

I'm not exactly sure how I was getting sleep on my diet before, so all I can think is that I've grown more sensitive to this sort of thing since having been on this diet.

On the other hand, I haven't been very good at doing this diet the way it should.  My problem is that I still tend to do lots more veggies than meat.

I went to my doctor for my annual physical the week before last and had my blood tested.  But my lipid panel was not much improved.  (I have to call them to get the exact numbers for you.)  It's not that my cholesterol is high, it's not.  The issue is that my HDL level is low.  And I'm sorry to report that according to my doctor there has not been much of a change, although I can't remember what I had eaten in the days preceding the test.

So, anyway, there's another food update for you!

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December 14, 2008

Flibbert's Super-Robusto Veggie and Meat Chunky Chili Extravaganza: A Recipe in Three Pots

This is a delightful cold-weather appropriate recipe that is sure to become a favorite of caveman households across the nation. 

I started out wanting to make a vegetarian chili in my slow cooker like the one Fresh Direct sells. 

I bought John David a slow cooker for Christmas along with a cookbook and I saw a recipe that looked promising.  But then I got into a discussion about intellectual property rights with John David and, not wanting to violate those, decided that I wanted to merge it with another recipe in the book that contained meat. 

So, I made my own recipe and what follows are the step-by-step instructions so that you can enjoy the same with your family.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes w/ juices (28 oz)
  • 2 cans (19 oz) of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) of chopped chilis
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 2 lbs stewing beef
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Immediately decide to double the above amounts without any regard to the capacity of your slow cooker because you didn't eat breakfast or lunch on the day you went grocery shopping.
  2. Get to the grocery store and substitute three regular yellow squash for the butternut squash because you can't find the butternut squash and you're not sure how big a medium one is.  Besides, squash are delicious and pretty.
  3. Buy three zucchini instead of two because you love zucchini.
  4. Choose to buy beef stock instead of chicken stock because it just seems to make more sense with the addition of beef to the veggie chili recipe.
  5. Buy a bag of baby carrots because the adult carrots look weird and the baby ones promise to be a good snack while you're cooking.
  6. Wander around the store for 45 minutes looking for canned chili peppers.  Instead of asking for help, buy a jar of chopped jalapenos because, after all, you're a manly man and the Spanish word for peppers is "chili," so it's really kind of the same thing.
  7. Brown the meat in a large skillet.
  8. Combine all the other ingredients, but don't measure too carefully.  It's chili.  So, maybe put a bit more jalapenos and a bit more chili powder.  Oh!  And just dump all of the beef stock in because why waste?
  9. Just chop up all of the baby carrots that you haven't eaten because no one really knows how many baby carrots it takes to make a grown-up carrot and why would you even consider such a thing when the babies are so cute and delicious?
  10. Add some more jalapenos because the chili seems like it might be a little bland and you also think maybe you didn't add a full 9 ounces to the mix because the jar you bought is 12 ounces and you were just eyeballing it anyway.
  11. Use sea salt instead of regular salt because you bought some last week and unless you have a real fear of night blindness, you don't want it to go to waste.
  12. As you're chopping and dumping things into your slow cooker, you will come to realize that you obviously have some kind of problem in your brain that makes you completely unable to gauge the volume of all of these ingredients.
  13. Dump everything into a stock pot that your roommate left out.
  14. Realize that the stock pot is not big enough, either.
  15. Dump everything into a larger stock pot and put it on the stove.
  16. Put over a low heat and cook for 4ish hours stirring now and then mostly out of curiosity.
  17. As you stir it, feel free to dump in some other stuff that you think will make it taste good.
Enjoy!

Update: Whilst stirring, note how much like the Fresh Direct chili it smells and then get very excited about the big chunks of beef you see in there.  Perhaps you might let loose a manly roar, "IT'S GONNA BE SO GOOD!! NOM! NOM! NOM!"  And feel free to thump your chest in triumph over your culinary greatness.

Update 2: I'm enjoying a bowl of my chili now.  It actually cooked in about 2.5 hours, which makes me think I should have lowered the heat a little and let it go a little longer, although the meat is still very tender and delicious.  If I had to do it again, I would likely use less beef stock and maybe some more tomatoes -- because I love tomatoes and because it's pretty watery.  The extra water makes it much more like a stew than chili, really, but the flavor profile has the kick of chili.

But the bottom line is that this is spicy without overwhelming and it is deeelicious!  You need a fork and a spoon to eat this!

Update 3: Oh!  And I think the substitution of black beans in place of traditional kidney beans really didn't make much of a difference to me.  If I had to do it over, I'd examine the nutritional benefits of the two beans and make a decision based on that.

Update 4: If you follow the steps I followed above, please note that this makes a TON of stew/chili.  I have enough here to eat a couple of bowls every day for the rest of the week.

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December 06, 2008

Killing Grok

So, this weekend I'm at L'Italiana's house and I decided to do a comparison between my caveman diet of the last week and what I used to eat.  I like science.

Last week, I was a LOT better than usual at the primitive plan.  I did eat out three times and had a few things (alcoholic beverages, one hamburger patty, etc.) that I oughtn't to have had, but by and large I did very well what with having cooked my lunches in advance with healthy stuff and cooking my own breakfast, too.

Well, what have I eaten here?

Last night, I ate half a pizza and today I had Chic-fil-A complete with waffle fries and sugarys BBQ sauce finished off with a DELICIOUS peppermint and chocolate chip milk shake.

It was AWESOME.  So delicious.

About an hour later, I wanted to curl up in a ball and die.

I haven't talked much here about my general digestive stress because even I have some sense of propriety about these things and I know no one is interested in a blog about poop and farts. 

I wouldn't say I have irritable bowel syndrome, but from time to time my body responds violently to things I've eaten.  I've never quite put my finger on exactly what sets things off, but it is very, very unpleasant.  This started in college and I'd simply learned to live with it.

Well, since I started eating like a caveman all of that stopped happening.  Everything was proceding very comfortably and what I imagine is normal for people.

WELL.  Peppermint milkshakes are not on the caveman diet for a good reason, I see now.  And, yes, I do blame the milkshake.

I still feel kind of yucky and blah, but I am now convinced that I need to get back on my regular eating plan STAT. Say what you will about cavemen, but now that I know this condition can be avoided, I think the alternative is barbaric.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 04:12 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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December 04, 2008

Cooking with Coconut Oil

I've been cooking my sausage and eggs in coconut oil this week.  I haven't really noticed any coconut flavor in my eggs, but this morning I did notice one benefit: smoke.

If you cook with the heat too high, whatever oil you're using will start to smoke.  This morning, I experienced just this, but instead of being acrid, blinding, death-dealing smoke that you get from margarine or veggie oil it was rather light smoke and had only a faint, sweet odor.

Of course, I didn't let it really get out of hand.  I just turned the heat down and opened the window in the kitchen, so I don't know if the smoke would have gotten smelly and gross after a time, but this was downright pleasant.  Our apartment does not stink from it or anything!

Coconut oil also seems a little more "durable" than veggie oil.  I'm not sure of the right word, but it stays in the pan better and lasts longer through the cooking process.

So, anyway, I'm really enjoying this stuff.  You should check it out.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 08:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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December 01, 2008

I am the Top Chef of Cavemen

Ok, so I went to Whole Paycheck Foods and spent $14 on a pound of almond flour this evening.  When I got home, I set out making these Energy Bars from Mark's Daily Apple.

Is it just me or are his instructions sometimes a little vague on some rather important points?

Also, does it seem like his portions are unusually small?

So, I made a double batch.  I also decided to spice it a bit with some cinnamon at the end.

Here are some lessons I learned:
1) Almond butter can be made into a liquid with very little heat.
2) Raw honey is solid at room temperature.
3) All of these hippie foods are crazy yucky to see or touch, but taste surprisingly good.

Anyway...

THEY ARE SO GOOD!

ZOMFG!  NOM! NOM! NOM! NOM!

SO GOOD.

You should totally go out and make some right now!!

I do worry that they won't hold together very well, so I will likely play around with methods of making them a bit more solid at room temperature.  Like, maybe if they were baked for a little bit.  That might help, right?

I used cranberries, but I want to make some more and mix dried blueberries and dried cranberries.  I'll bet that's even better.

And they have hazelnut meal at the store.  I'll bet that's a crazy good option, too.

ALSO, instead of paying a zillion dollars for this flour, I think I'll just buy the nuts raw and then grind them myself in my blender or food processor.

So, basically, I'm telling you this is some good stuff here.  You need to go get you some.

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 08:53 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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Raw Almonds

My impressively stocked local grocery store had raw almonds.  I don't know if they've gone through the secret pasteurization process that folks have been talking about -- I suspect they have -- but they definitely taste "greener."  They're also crunchier than the other almonds I've been buying.

Pretty cool!

Posted by: Flibbertigibbet at 02:04 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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