Peach and pecan scramble

peachnpecanscramble

This is an unusual recipe we tried earlier in the year. If you’re expecting regular scrambled eggs, you’re in for a surprise. It tastes a bit like egg custard. With a side of bacon, it’s become one of our favourite weekend breakfasts. This receipe is enough for two people.

A splash of olive oil for the pan
1 peach, diced (we’ve also used apricots and apples when we didn’t have peaches)
4 Tbsp chopped pecans
4 eggs
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl.
  2. Add the applesauce and cinnamon to the eggs and beat well.
  3. Stirfry the peaches and pecans in the olive oil in a fry pan for 2-3 minutes, until the pieces of peach are soft.
  4. Add the beaten eggs to the pan, stirring to scramble them.
  5. Serve with a couple of strips of nitrate-free bacon.

Credit to The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.

Gingernuts

Gingernuts

Growing up in New Zealand, one of my favorite biscuits was Gingernuts, known other places as Ginger Snaps or Ginger Cookies. Patrick used to make these when we had friends over – sometimes even for dessert, with pineapple and whipped cream. So when I saw a recipe on Civilized Caveman for Cranberry Ginger Cookies, I had to try them! Here’s my slightly modified version, leaving out the cranberries and using twice as much ginger.

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 egg
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. Place balls of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Flatten the biscuits with a spoon or a fork.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 F.
  5. Cool before eating (if you can wait that long!)

Thanks George!

Snackaroos

Carrots

Here are a few ideas for some primal/paleo snacks:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Nut balls
  • Nuts – cashews, macadamias, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
  • Cold meat
  • Leftover lunch or dinner
  • An apple cut into slices with a dollop of almond butter for dipping
  • Carrot sticks and guacamole/avocado slices
  • Almond flour baking (in small quantities)
  • Dried fruit (just one or two pieces at a time)
  • Dark chocolate (70% or higher)

We’ve also been trying to eat more local food, so last weekend while we were running around the Cowichan Valley organizing the 200km bike ride, we stopped at the Saturday morning market and talked to a couple of local beef farmers. They both sell meat at the market as well as directly from the farm, so we’re planning to drive up there with our chilly bin (cooler) and get some local grass-raised meat. Once we’ve visited the farms I’ll put up some links to their websites.

We’re also planning to try growing some vegetables using square-foot gardening. We’ve weeded our raised bed in the back garden in preparation for buying some dirt next weekend. I’m hoping Patrick comes up with a plan for an automatic watering system. Either that, or I’m going to have to enlist some help with watering reminders – (I pick plants for the flower beds based on how drought-resistant they are!)

Has anyone else tried square-foot gardening? What kind of vegetables do you think we should plant?

Photo via Flickr user havankevin

What’s with all the gluten-free recipes? (Primal Blueprint 101)

Vedgetables on the market of Saint-Tropez 3Some of you have been asking what’s with all the gluten-free recipes lately, so I thought it might be time I came clean on what’s been going on at our place.

For the last seven weeks we’ve been following the Primal Blueprint, a different way of eating and exercising for a healthy life.

Two of the main parts of the Primal Blueprint are eating and exercise. Let’s look at eating first, since that’s always at the top of my mind.

Eating

We’ve cut out grains, potatoes, and beans – that means no bread, rice, pasta, or sugary breakfast cereal. What we’re eating instead is meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruit.

But how can you feel full without the starch? I can tell you, when you’ve eaten enough meat and vegetables, you’re full, but without that slightly dopey feeling you get from a big plate of pasta.

How can this be a healthy diet without whole grains? Don’t we need whole grains for fibre and good nutrition? According to the Primal Blueprint, we can get all the fibre, vitamins, and minerals we need from meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruit. Whole grains fill us up, but meat and vegetables are nutritionally superior.

The Primal Blueprint, along with other similar diets such as the Paleo diet and Gary Taubes’ low-carb diet, says that maintaining a healthy weight, and losing weight to get to a healthy weight, is all about controlling your hormones, especially insulin. Starchy carbs lead to insulin spikes, which tells your body to store food in fat cells to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

If you don’t eat the starchy carbs, your blood sugar remains stable and insulin low, so your body burns fat. People who are naturally skinny and seem to be able to eat anything have good genes that prompt them to burn fat rather than store it, whereas the rest of us who tend to accumulate an extra pound or two, or more, don’t have such good genes and thus need to be more careful to keep our insulin levels down in order to burn fat.

It’s nothing to do with eating too much or not eating enough. Research shows that even people on a near starvation diet can be obese.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been one of those people who goes crazy when my blood sugar drops. Give me food and give it to me now – and preferably something sweet that I can process quickly. But for the last seven weeks I’ve been craving sugary food less, and not having those crazy-making episodes. I’ve felt full and satisfied, and clear-headed. I’ve lost a little weight (a steady pound a week) and toned up.

Exercise

On the exercise front, the Primal Blueprint recommends doing less moderately-intense cardio. If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried to use gym classes, running, cycling, and other sports to keep your weight under control.

The new thinking is that if you exercise moderately hard all the time, you make yourself hungry, which means you’ll eat more – and if you’re not in fat burning mode, you’ll just store that extra food in your fat cells. Think about it. If someone invited you to a fancy dinner cooked by a top chef, and told you to come hungry, what would you do? Eat less and do some exercise to build up an appetite. Yet that’s what we’ve been taught to do to lose weight! Doesn’t make sense does it?

Instead what we need to do is low-intensity exercise – walking, hiking, playing with the kids – mixed with some weights (or gardening, or lifting boxes or groceries), and the odd session of high-intensity “sprints”. This gives our bodies enough work to build muscle, but avoids cranking up our appetite.

So we’ve been getting out for some walks and easy bike rides, I’ve been going to a strength and conditioning class at the gym, and Patrick’s been doing primal fitness exercises at home. It’s all so easy, I almost feel guilty. But it’s working.

How can I get started?

As with any lifestyle change, the only way to know if the Primal Blueprint will work for you is to try it. And that’s what I’m recommending. Try it for one meal – that’s easy, right? Try it for a week, or better yet, try it for 30 days. Even if you change your eating patterns but do no exercise, you’ll see results. According to the Primal Blueprint, it’s 80% diet, 20% exercise.

And remember, stick to eating these things:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Fruit

If you’re desperate to substitute something for mashed potatoes or rice, try these easy cauliflower substitutions:

Mashed cauliflower

  1. Chop the cauliflower into chunks and cook it like you usually would in a pot of hot water.
  2. Drain it, add a splash of olive oil or a little butter, then use a hand blender to blend it into a smooth mash.

Cauliflower rice

  1. Grate raw cauliflower (by hand with a grater, or in a food processer) until the cauliflower looks roughly like rice.
  2. Cook it in the microwave in a covered dish for about 6 minutes. Pull it out and stir it with a fork every 2 minutes to make sure it cooks evenly.

Further reading

Mark’s Daily Apple (the website of Mark Sisson who created the Primal Blueprint)
Primal Blueprint Success Stories
Primal Blueprint 101
Primal Blueprint Fitness
Primal Blueprint Recipes
Protein options for vegetarians

Let me know if you have questions. And tell me how it goes if you try it!

Photo via Flickr user risastla