Paleo Tortilla Chips

I haven’t made these yet, but I love guacamole. I usually just eat it on salads with salsa, but I do miss tortilla chips.

tortchips

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No Rant Today

No rant today because I don’t have anything by which I am irritated. Also, my rant from last week was pretty popular, and there is still a debate going in the comments section. If you want something to be irritated about, go read that. I also want to remind commenters that YouTube videos and personally written books do not qualify as reliable sources. Believe it or not, anyone can say anything they want in a YouTube video and a book.

Sorry_but_it's_true

I’m feeling very happy today, but I do wish cheap wine was healthy. At least it’s paleo.

wine

This is me trying some elderberry wine at a small local winery. It was too sweet for me (hence the face), but it had a very different flavor than wines made with grapes. I’m sure there is a fancy way I could make my own wine to ensure that it’s paleo, but that just sounds like too much work.

Around the holidays, a lot of people like to have a few cocktails. Here is a list of all the alcoholic beverages that are paleo.

  • Potato vodka
  • Red wine
  • Rum
  • Sparkling wine
  • Tequila
  • White wine

 

I also wish beer was paleo because I’m a huge Steelers fan, and beer and football just go together.

steelers

The Nutrition Community’s Pitfall – Group Thinking

I just read a well-cited article by a fellow blogger. He is not a paleo advocate per say, but more like a low-carb, low-crap diet advocate. Group thinking is almost always a bad thing, and it runs rampant in nutrition communities. The purpose of my blog is not to start any sort of thread that is based solely on what a group thinks, but on what science has discovered. Group thinking is not just a general term. It’s considered an actual psychological phenomenon. Wikipedia says the following without specifying sources:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”

groupthink

I highly suggest you read the article I posted above for more information. If I were to continue writing this blog post, I would pretty much just copy and paste what my fellow blogger says. I’m sure it could spark a great discussion. Here is the link again

http://authoritynutrition.com/10-myths-within-the-low-carb-community/#comment-50354

Feel free to challenge and consider everything fully. Even me!

you_want_to_challenge_me__by_vegeta_sensei-d5clqcy

Pros and Cons of Early Morning Workouts

I’m not one of those incredibly lucky people who love to work out. I kinda hate it no matter what I do, but I always feel amazing after, and I love how it makes me look. Anyway, no matter when I work out during the day, I’m not happy about it, but getting up to exercise before work makes it even harder. I decided to look into why people say it’s better to work out as a start to your day. There are no reliable peer reviewed sources on the topic, so I’ll try to discuss what I’ve read on Ace Fitness and WebMD.

morning-exercise

Both of these websites say that it is a fact that those who consistently workout in the morning are more successful at making it a habit. I can’t find a real source for that anywhere, but it seems most experts think it is true. However, they also say that working out in the afternoon yields the best performance because the body has already been warmed up. Higher body temperature is correlated with higher performance.

My List

PROS of morning workouts

1. When it is over, I feel like a million bucks. I go home, shower, start my day refreshed… I feel more awake and alert throughout the rest of my day. I get more done, and I tend to make healthy eating decisions moreso than when I exercise at night.

2. It’s done. I don’t have to think about it, I don’t have to worry what the traffic will be like later. I can relax, do laundry, cook a nice dinner, do some reading, catch up on some shows… I don’t have to squeeze in a workout and a shower.

3. This is kind of nit-picky, but I prefer to shower in the morning. CrossFit gets me pretty sweaty, so I HAVE to shower after. If I go to class in the evening and shower after, it’s pretty wasteful to take another shower in the morning. But I LIKE morning showers. So working out in the morning vibes better with my preferred showering schedule.

4. I don’t get as stiff. After a morning workout, I go home and shower and go on with my day. This includes various movements, walking, climbing stairs, standing, fidgeting… After an evening workout, I mostly just sit around, then go to sleep. It allows my muscles to stiffen up a lot more.

CONS of morning workouts

1. Getting up. Uhhh… There was also a lot of talk on those two pages about circadian rhythms and how you are either a night owl or morning sunshine psycho. JK. But seriously. My morning CrossFit class is at 5:30 AM, and getting up is awful.

2. I don’t perform as well. I’m stiffer, I’m groggy, I do a lot of yawning. I don’t have the same powerful focus that I do in an afternoon workout.

3. I need more warm-up. I’m very stiff in the mornings after 7+ years of running and intense CrossFit workouts, I creak and crack everywhere. I need more time to work out those kinks than I do late in the day.

tired-at-gym

I guess when I’m looking at this list, the pros outweigh the cons, but the bottom line is that you exercise regularly at whatever time works for you. Don’t force yourself to get up if you’re going to hate life all day after.

Paleo Korean Short Ribs – SLOW COOKER

Since I missed recipe Saturday, I’m going to do it today because it seems to be everyone’s favorite. This short rib recipe is adapted from NomNom Paleo –> http://nomnompaleo.com/post/3762844557/slow-cooker-korean-grass-fed-short-ribs

ribs

Ingredients:

2 pounds grass-fed short ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 medium pear or Asian pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup coconut aminos
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
3 scallions, roughly chopped
1 teaspoons of Red Boat fish sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup organic chicken broth

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

Small handful of roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler, and place a rack six inches below the heating element. Season ribs liberally with S&P and broil for 5 minutes on each side. Then stack them on their ends in a slow cooker. I have a small slow cooker, so 2 pounds of ribs fit snuggly. You can cook more ribs in a traditionally sized slow cooker. Combine the pear, coconut aminos, garlic, scallions, fish sauce, and vinegar in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce and the chicken broth over the ribs in the slow cooker, and cook on low for ~9 hours. When finished, remove the meat and let the broth settle. The fat layer will come to the top. This can be skimmed off and frozen for later cooking. I added some arrowroot powder to the broth to thicken it a bit. Serve over mashed cauliflower “rice” with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serves 2 really hungry people. Might stretch to 3.

Thursday Rant – GMOs: Safe or Unsafe?

I’m really, truly not sure where all of the hatred for genetically modified organisms has come from. I’m all for people questioning what the government does, but seriously! Do some research. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that GMOs are harmful to humans, soil, the environment, etc. In fact, most of the evidence is to the contrary. Just to make sure I was on the right track, I did the research. Here we go.

GMOs

Let’s first go over the difference between GMOs and conventionally grown products. GMOs have 1 or a few well-characterized (known, defined) genes fused into their genome. These genes can be from any species, usually bacteria or viruses.  Conventional methods use genetic manipulation, not modification, to accomplish similar goals. Think of a German shepherd. These dogs have been selectively bred over many years to produce the desired traits of loyalty, intelligence, and herding. Selective breeding is used in every single crop you can imagine. Breeders force things to happen genetically. This can also introduce new genes, but they are always within species.

non gm vs gm

When the plant genetics are engineered in GMOs, the new genes are reviewed for unintended consequences. These products go through three government organizations (not all US) that are specifically designed to test GMOs for undesirable effects on humans, soil, environment, and insect biodiversity. Conventionally grown products that have been genetically manipulated do not have to go through any of these agencies to test for safety. They are assumed to be safe because they are “natural.” So far, the only proven harmful chemicals to humans from crops have been from conventionally grown crops that have been manipulated. For example, a strain of celery grown conventionally was shown to have a higher than normal concentration of psoralens which is a chemical that deters insects. The farmers were excited about the prospect of having insect resistant crops, but soon came to realize that the excess psoralens was giving everyone rashes. If this strain of celery would’ve gone through the process of being determined safe, this wouldn’t have happened (1).

The current controversies surrounding GMOs right now are as follows:

1. Whether genetically engineered (GE) foods should be labeled

2. The effect of GE foods on health and the environment

3. The effect on pesticide resistance

4. Impact on agricultural finance

5.  The role of GE products on feeding the world

I want to talk about number 1 after I’ve made my point.

The most successful genetic modification of crops so far has been the addition of genes that produce toxic proteins from soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) (2). These proteins are toxic to common insect predators, but do no damage to humans or other non-target wildlife (3). Another great thing about the toxins is that they are present inside the plant tissues. Topical pesticides have contained Bt proteins for decades, but the proteins never killed pests already inside the plant. Since it has been long established that Bt proteins do not hurt humans, scientists were given the go-ahead to genetically modify corn and soy with Bt proteins (4). Another benefit of this modification is that insecticide use has gone down by 8% per planted acre of Bt crops. This has also lead to increased yield and increased profits for farmers (5). Even further, since the Bt proteins only kill target organisms, other insects have been allowed to thrive without being destroyed by broader insecticides. A study of 42 plots of land was conducted and various insects were collected to a result that there were 23% more insect species in Bt corn fields and 71% more insect species in Bt cotton fields than conventionally grown and sprayed corn and cotton (6).

GM-crop

Another prime example is the viral resistant papaya. Pretty much all papayas are genetically modified to resist  papaya ringspot virus (PRSV). Here is where GMO haters get on the industry for treating papayas like tobacco. Tobacco had a common virus, as well. The similarity is that both viruses were treated with an internal vaccine. Two difference vaccines for two different viruses (7). This has nothing to do with the detrimental health effects of tobacco. So basically, all papayas have a very mild strain of the virus inside them the same way we all have a mild strain of measles or influenza in us from vaccines. Without this vaccine, it would be nearly impossible to grow papayas at all because the virus is so widespread (7).

I have one more example of a GMO that hasn’t been released just yet but looks promising. It is called “golden rice.” Rice is a staple crop grown in over 100 countries, and Vitamin A deficiency is a real public health problem in over 100 countries. Carotenoids, the compounds that give yellow and orange vegetables their color, can be used to make vitamin A within the body. Scientists have incorporated a gene from the yellow daffodil flower and two genes from bacteria to create golden rice (8). The second generation of golden rice has been shown in human feeding studies to have the proper balance of carotenoids to create vitamin A, even in children (9). An 8 oz cup of golden rice has enough vitamin A for 50-60% of RDA for vitamin A (10). The purpose of golden rice was not to make an extra profit. People already buy rice. The purpose was purely humanitarian in nature.

goldrice

Of course there are many more examples, but they are all in this reference (2), and I have no need to go over each one. However, it has been scientifically shown over and over that GMOs boost agricultural sustainability, lower the amount of insecticide used, improved soil quality (11, 12), and increase the biodiversity of invertebrate wildlife in crop fields (13).

There are also a lot of issues with the patenting of GMOs. I’m sure this will follow the way of gene patenting and be outlawed so that everyone can have access to GMOs. Everyone can have access now with royalty and patent fees to the creator, but that will soon be outlawed I would hope.

Before I ended my research, I looked all over the internet for a reliable article against GMOs. I found 1, yes 1! article that had any peer reviewed references at all (14). This article is laughable in it’s credibility. It makes outrageous claims with no references at all, and most of the references it does have are not peer reviewed or from some agency no one has heard of. The first 8 references were personal opinion single author books (which are not peer reviewed.) I went to PubMed and read the very first peer reviewed article on the list. This was a study on genetically modified soy and whether or not it had more allergic affect than conventionally grown soy. Skin tests of 49 subjects for both types of soy showed 14 patients with positive skin tests for allergy: 14 total showed an allergy, 8 to both types, 5 to the conventional, and 1 to the GMO (15). They had used this article to say that GM soy had a new allergen. IN ONE PERSON! It took away the allergen in five people! I guess they thought no one would check their sources.

Hey, I’m all for scientific skepticism. Look things up, do some reading. But don’t take every little piece of propaganda seriously. The article I mentioned actually said that GMOs reduce crop yield. That is their whole point! Immediately, I knew what I was reading was garbage. But a lot of people don’t. This is why I’m ok with the US not having GMO labeling laws. People freak out over the littlest things and don’t do any sound research on it.

Now, I’m all for food safety, but until I see any reasonable evidence stating that these foods are bad for me, I’m eating them, and I encourage you to do the same.

1. Committee on Identifying and Assessing Unintended Effects of Genetically Engineered Foods on Human Health, and National Research Council (Editors), 2004 Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects.National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

2. Pamela Ronald. Plant Genetics, Sustainable Agriculture and Global Food Security. Genetics May 1, 2011 vol. 188 no. 111-20.

3.  Mendelsohn M., Kough J., Vaituzis Z., Matthews K.,  2003 Are Bt crops safe? Nature Biotechnol. 21: 1003–1009.

4. EUROPEAN FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY 2004

5. Fernandez-Cornejo J., Caswell M., 2006 The first decade of genetically engineered crops in the United States, pp. 1–30 in Economic Information Bulletin, edited by United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. USDA, Washington, DC.

6. Marvier M., McCreedy C., Regetz J., Kareiva P., 2007 A meta-analysis of effects of Bt cotton and maize on nontarget invertebrates. Science 316: 1475–1477.

7. Tripathi S., Suzuki J., Gonsalves D., 2006 Development of genetically engineered resistant papaya for papaya ringspot virus in a timely manner: a comprehensive and successful approach, pp. 197–240 in Methods in Molecular Biology, Vol. 354: Plant–Pathogen Interactions: Methods and Protocols, edited by P. C. Ronald. Humana Press,Totowa, NJ.

8. Ye X., Al-Babili S., Kloti A., Zhang J., Lucca P., et al., 2000 Engineering the provitamin A (beta-carotene) biosynthetic pathway into (carotenoid-free) rice endosperm.Science 287: 303–305.

9. Stein A. J., Sachdev H. P. S., Qaim M., 2006 Potential impact and cost-effectiveness of Golden Rice. Nat. Biotechnol. 24: 1200–1201

10.Tang G., Qin J., Dolnikowski G. G., Russell R. M., Grusack M. A., 2009 Golden Rice is an effective source of Vitamin A. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 89: 1776–1783.

11. Huang J., Hu R., Rozelle S., Pray C., 2005 Insect-resistant GM rice in farmers’ fields: assessing productivity and health effects in China. Science 308: 688–690.

12. Qaim M., Zilberman D., 2003 Yield effects of genetically modified crops in developing countries. Science 299: 900–902.

13. Cattaneo M. G., Yafuso C., Schmidt C., Huang C.-Y., Rahman M., et al., 2006 Farm-scale evaluation of the impacts of transgenic cotton on biodiversity, pesticide use and yield. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 7571–7576.

14. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/health-risks#11

15. Yum HYLee SYLee KESohn MHKim KE. Genetically modified and wild soybeans: an immunologic comparison. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2005 May-Jun;26(3):210-6.

Paleo: Budget friendly tips you can actually USE

I read articles all the time on how to conserve money when eating paleo because hey… grass-fed meat, organic vegetables… this stuff gets expensive. I understand. I’m living the food bill nightmare. However, all of these articles I read do not give a lot of tips that are relevant to my life. For instance: Buy a deep freeze to keep whole halves of animals. Not feasible for a grad student living in a studio apartment. Now, those tips are great for a young family of four, but for me on my own, not useful. I’m going to go over my own personal tips for younger people on their own, and I’ll make reference to some articles that I think will be useful for more established families.

1. Buy cheaper cuts of meat. 

Chicken is probably the cheapest meat, and the easiest to store. Remember, dark meat and chicken skin are ok on paleo as long as they are raised the right way. I love chicken thighs, and they are so cheap compared to chicken breasts. I buy a big batch, say 10 thighs, and freeze them in bags of 2 since they are usually small. Then I can take a bag out of the freezer in the morning and put in the fridge to thaw to have for dinner. Another tricky thing to do with chicken thighs is to save the grease from the pan and freeze it in ice cube trays to use for cooking other things later. Saves you on your coconut oil and grass-fed butter bill.

2. Only buy fresh veggies that you plan on eating raw. If you’re going to cook it, buy it frozen.

I buy fresh veggies for salads, but if it’s something I plan on roasting or boiling, I buy it frozen. This is much cheaper and lasts much longer.  A few of my favorite frozen veggie purchases are frozen chopped onions for soups and stir fries, and frozen California blend veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. I just add some garlic powder and salt and roast them in foil. Now if you ask me honestly, I would say I prefer fresh vegetables for everything. However, I can’t deny that it’s much cheaper, and me being on my own, I don’t go through an entire onion before it spoils, and I don’t go through fresh heads of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots before they all spoil. It just makes sense to buy frozen. Make sure they don’t come with all that preservative-laden sauce on them.

3. Find a good place to get eggs. Preferably not the grocery store. 

I live in the city, so I usually end up buying eggs from the grocery store. I buy organic which are usually around $4/dozen. Regular eggs are about $1.29/dozen. My parents live in the country, so every time I’m home, I make sure to pick up some local eggs which are $1/dozen, and most likely more organic than what I bought in the store. I also tend to eat eggs every day because they are cheaper than meat and full of magic, I swear. Zucchini LatkesEgg MuffinsFritatta

magic egg

4. Make expensive meat last awhile.

When I buy a nice expensive pound of grass-fed ground beef, I don’t usually make burgers, or meatloaf, or meat bagels. Yes, those exist. I make something like paleo chili, so that I get some grass-fed beef for the next three or four days. If I really get on a protein kick, I just eat some tuna. I don’t like the can much, I go for those little pouches. FYI, they also have salmon in those pouches. I think the salmon tastes better plain than the tuna. Or a hard boiled egg. Just saying, eggs are magic.

5. Watch for meat sales, but use that meat quickly.

Grocery stores tend to have meat sales when they have a surplus of something. This means that the meat could be old. Whole Foods has periodic sales on ground beef, and I usually buy some and either use it or freeze it within 2 days.

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6. Watch for affordable farmers markets

There are farmers markets in the city, but fresh produce is in such high demand that the prices are usually higher than the grocery store. This is not always the case, so I checked out a few different farmers markets in my area to see which had the most reasonable prices. This is the best way to get fresh vegetables, especially if you are into canning. I’m not, I don’t have the time or the space to store all of that, but a farmers market is a great place to get bulk veggies for canning.

7. Buy produce in season.

This tip is in almost every money-saving article because it is so true. In season produce is cheaper, tastes better, and has more nutrients.

Other articles you may find useful:

http://blog.paleohacks.com/ultimate-guide-to-eating-paleo-on-a-budget/

http://thepaleomama.com/2013/10/30cheapmaindishpaleomeals/

http://ohsnapletseat.com/2013/05/13/how-to-eat-paleo-on-a-budget-2/