Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a staple in any hard core paleo-eater’s diet. This is because A. we aren’t afraid of saturated fat, B. we know the dangers of rancid oils, and C. we like to have nice skin. It’s also an acceptable way to fry food because of the high smoke point.

800px-Coconut-butter

Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts by one of two methods: wet processing or dry processing. Most coconut oil is dry processed because it is more economical (higher yield) and more appealing (1). The dry process involves  removal of the coconut meat from multiple coconuts, drying it in a kiln, and pressing what is left. Two products come out of the press: coconut oil, and copra which is a high-protein fibrous mash that is used in ruminant feed and not suitable for human consumption. The copra is strained out, and the coconut oil remains (2).

Commercial coconut oil is about 91% saturated fatty acids, 6% oleic acid (healthy monounsaturated fatty acid), and 3% polyunsaturated fatty acid. It’s smoke point (why we love it) is 350 degrees F (3).

Many health organizations including the FDA (4), WHO (5), American Heart Association (6), etc, advise against the ingestion of coconut oil because of the high saturated fat content, but if you’ve read my post about saturated fat, you know how I feel about that.

According to a 2003 meta-analysis (7), the use of coconut oil as a replacement for other sources of saturated fats (just partially, not entirely) increased overall cholesterol, but much of the effect was on the HDL (good) cholesterol. One of the most accurate predictors of cardiac events is the following ratio total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol. The lower this ratio is, the safer you are. Consumption of coconut oil, decreased this ratio compared to the addition of CARBS. Replacing saturated fatty acids with carbs had little effect on the cholesterol ratio, but it did increase the concentration of triglycerides when fasting (7).

Besides its uses in cooking, coconut oil is great for skin and hair topically (8, 9). I know this from my personal experience, as well.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, coconut oil has a very high smoke point compared to other oils like olive (3). When an oil reaches its smoke point, it begins to break down to its components, fatty acids and glycerol. The glycerol will continue its breakdown to a substance called acrolein which is a compound in the smoke that is irritating to the eyes and throat (10). It is also a component of cigarette smoke (11). Since coconut oil has a high smoke point, it is safer to cook with. As oils break down, they also begin to lose nutritional value making olive oil healthy when raw, but not so much when heated.

Coconut oil does have a mild coconut scent and flavor. I prefer to cook with ghee or butter because the flavor is better, and the smoke point is still adequate. I mostly use coconut oil for topical purposes because the smell is nice. Different skin types react differently to the oil. For instance, my skin is firm, so it doesn’t absorb the oil quickly. The oil makes my skin look great, but I have to wash it off before going anywhere as it looks greasy. I’ve heard other people say that their skin soaks it right up. Trial and error. I’ve also used it to treat rashes, scrapes, burns, and even acne. It can even be used as a mouthwash, but I don’t do this anymore because it uses a lot of oil, and coconut oil is expensive. This is the brand that I use.

coco

Anyway, I encourage you to give it a try, topically if not in cooking, and see how you like it. I think it’s pretty wonderful.

1. Grimwood et al., 1975, pp. 193–210

2. Grimwood, BE; Ashman F; Dendy DAV; Jarman CG; Little ECS; Timmins WH (1975). Coconut Palm Products – Their processing in developing countries. Rome: FAO. pp. 49–56.

3. Katragadda, H. R.; Fullana, A. S.; Sidhu, S.; Carbonell-Barrachina, Á. A. (2010). “Emissions of volatile aldehydes from heated cooking oils”. Food Chemistry 120: 59.

4. “Nutrition Facts at a Glance – Nutrients: Saturated Fat”Food and Drug Administration. 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2011-03-16.

5. “Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes” (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 2011-04-06.

6.  “Tropical Oils”American Heart Association. Retrieved 2011-03-16.

7. Mensink RP, Zock PL, Kester AD, Katan MB (May 2003). “Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials” (PDF). Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 77 (5): 1146–55.

8. Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VM (September 2004). “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis”. Dermatitis 15 (3): 109–16

9. Rele, A.; Mohile, R. (2003). “Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage” (pdf). Journal of cosmetic science 54 (2): 175–192.

10.  Morgan, D. A. (1942). “Smoke, fire, and flash points of cottonseed, peanut, and other vegetable oils”. Oil & Soap 19: 193.

11. Feng, Z; Hu W, Hu Y, Tang M (October 2006). “Acrolein is a major cigarette-related lung cancer agent: Preferential binding at p53 mutational hotspots and inhibition of DNA repair”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (42): 15404–15409.

Egg Muffins Recipe

egg muffin

 

This recipe is very very easy, even easier than the frittata. Egg breakfasts are my favorite, and anyone that goes paleo tends to get sick of cooking them. This is another recipe that can be made ahead of time and heated up in the microwave for a quick, satisfying breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 12 slices bacon or 6 deli slices ham or 6 deli slices turkey
  • half cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup cheese (optional) If you eat cheese, these are best with feta or cheddar, but are just fine without cheese

Directions

  • Preheat over to 375 degrees F.
  • Grease a 12-muffin muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Line each hole with 1 slice bacon or half slice ham or half slice turkey
  • Crack one egg into each hole. You can beat them if you want, but I kind of like the whole yolk in mine
  • sprinkle the top with scallions and cheese (optional)
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until the muffins no longer jiggle when you shake the pan
  • These are easiest to get out if you let them cool and use a butter knife around the edges

Makes 12 muffins.

egg muff

These muffins are as diverse as the asparagus and bacon fritata. You can add any veggie you like although I recommend cooking firmer veggies a little before adding them to the muffin pan. I have tried this with all three suggested meats and had success. You can also dice the meat and put it inside the muffin instead of using it as a liner. Either way is good. I like to enjoy 2 at a time with a little sriracha and a side of fruit.

My Whole30 Experience

Day 1

Breakfast: 0.75 serving Gluten free protein shake with egg whites

Lunch: 1 serving fritata with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, bacon, and hot sauce, 10 baby carrots

Dinner: Salmon cakes with guacamole and baked zucchini, 4 dill pickle spears

*I was hungry most of the day and had a terrible headache. IDK if this was the diet or just the day. I also clarified butter myself for the first time last night. Cooking with it tomorrow.

Day 2

Breakfast: 1 serving Gluten free protein shake with egg whites, green tea with lemon

Lunch: 2 servings fritata with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, bacon, and hot sauce, 4 baby carrots

Dinner:  1 servings stir fry with chicken, shrimp, miracle noodles, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, carrots, hot sauce, 4 dill pickle spears

*Felt better today. I ate more, so I think that was the headache problem. It’s kind of hard to keep my calories up.

Day 3

Breakfast: 1 serving fritata with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, bacon, and hot sauce, hot water with lemon

Lunch:  1 servings stir fry with chicken, shrimp, miracle noodles, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, carrots, hot sauce, 5 baby carrots

Snack: Half cup cucumbers with guacamole

Dinner: Chicken and bacon salad with avocado, tomatoes, and Greek vinaigrette

*The major test is this weekend. Weekends are where I usually fall apart, but I have to remember my goals. I’m going to suggest restaurants that I know have healthy options.

Day 4

Breakfast: None

Lunch: Fajita steak and vegetables, guacamole

Dinner: ½ baked chicken, mashed sweet potatoes

*I was challenged by a friend who said I couldn’t eat entirely paleo at a Mexican place. I just ordered fajitas with no tortilla. HA

Day 5

Breakfast: Protein shake with egg whites

Lunch: Chicken bacon chopped salad with egg, tomatoes, cucumbers, and oil & vinegar dressing

Dinner: 10 chicken wings with red hot sauce

Day 6

Breakfast: protein shake with spirulina

Lunch: 1 servings stir fry with chicken, shrimp, miracle noodles, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, carrots, 5 baby carrots, 2.5 tbsp almond butter

Dinner: zucchini-carrot-bacon latkes (3)

*I’m feeling good today. Making it through the weekend gave me more confidence that I can do this. Plus, the initial headachey period is over. 20% done.

Day 7

Breakfast: 1 serving fritata with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, bacon, cold water with lemon

Lunch: 0.75 servings stir fry with chicken, shrimp, miracle noodles, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, carrots, 1 zucchini-carrot-bacon latke

Dinner: 12 brussels sprouts braised in butter and roasted, 1 oz lamb shank (bad), 2 slices turkey, 1 handful pistachios

*I’ve been doing some minor lifting and major running. I have sooo much energy these days.

Day 8

Breakfast: 1 serving fritata with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, bacon, hot water with lemon

Lunch: 1 serving cabbage soup, 2 slices turkey, 2 tbsp guacamole, ½ cup cucumbers julienned, 1 tbsp paleo mayo

Dinner: 1 stuffed peppers with ground beef and cauliflower, 1 dill pickle

Day 9

Breakfast: 2 carrot-zucchini-bacon latkes

Lunch: Cabbage soup with leftover stuffed pepper filling, half cup cucumbers with 2 tbsp guacamole mayo, 5 baby carrots

Dinner:  Celery root and cauliflower puree, 4 oz halibut, small handful pistachios

*Growl, I really wanted a piece of chocolate today. Didn’t help that Irina brought me a big bar of bubble chocolate from Russia, which is my favorite. Grrr. I have to leave it sitting in my desk for a while. My lunch was delicious though. Cabbage soup is great when I can add a little butter and meat to it.

*Ahhhhh!!! I want chocolate!

Day 10

Breakfast: 1 carrot-zucchini-bacon latke

Lunch: Cabbage soup with leftover stuffed pepper filling, half cup cucumbers with 2 tbsp guacamole mayo

Snack: cauliflower and celery root puree

Dinner: Steak, shrimp, and roasted veggies at Applebee’s

*Steph brought in lemon blueberry bread today. It about killed me. I’m fine when I don’t see these things, but there’s a little party today and the good stuff is everywhere. Ahhh!!!

Day 11

Brunch: Bacon and eggs at Friendly’s

Dinner: A ton of watermelon, a hot dog with mustard (no bun), a chicken salad with veggies, and 4 clams

*I know my dinner was huge, but I was hungry from my lack of food earlier. I know a hot dog is not the best thing ever, but I wasn’t at home.

Day 12

Brunch: 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup strawberry slices, 3 small slices watermelon

Dinner: chicken tenders, cucumber salad, fruit salad

Day 13

Breakfast: Protein shake with chia seeds, grande pike place from starbucks

Lunch: cabbage soup with leftover stuffed pepper filling, half cup cucumbers with guacamole mayo

Dinner: 4 oz halibut, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and celery root puree

*Awesome 5.6 mile run today. I’m feeling awesome even though yummy food is still tempting me.

Day 14

Breakfast: 2 eggs, onion, spinach, pepper, 1 pc bacon omelet

Lunch: Picked at a chicken/bacon chop salad from Joe Mama’s

Dinner: tomato/spinach/onion stuffed mushrooms caps with salami, Brussels sprouts, 2 dill pickles

*I feel like crap, but it’s not from the diet, just Mother Nature. Nothing looks good as far as food. I’m hoping all these cravings I’ve been having are hormones and this will get easier.6.3 mile run though.

Day 15

Breakfast: 1 hard-boiled egg, hot sauce

Lunch: 4 oz halibut, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and celery root puree

Dinner: Grass fed ground beef with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and mushrooms

*Ouch, uterus. Ouch. Going to the farmers market today.  Dinner will depend on what I find there.

Day 16

Breakfast: Omelet with bacon, onions, peppers, and scallions

Lunch: Salad from cafeteria – iceberg, tomatoes, cucumbers, turkey, onions, olives, cauliflower, watermelon, oil and vinegar dressing, a nectarine

Dinner: Pistachio crusted chicken with garlic, roasted zucchini and Brussels sprouts, some watermelon and strawberries

*Almond or pistachio crusts on meat are pretty much the best thing ever.

Day 17

Breakfast: 2 hard-boiled eggs with hot sauce and paleo mayo

Snack: Nectarine and coffee

Lunch: Watermelon and Grass fed ground beef with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and mushrooms

Snack for drive: Strawberries, blueberries, pistachios

Dinner: Lobster tail, 15 small shrimp, broccoli (Red Lobster)

Day 18

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 pc bacon, 2 sausage links, 1 slice ham, tea

Snack: Pistachios

Dinner: Burger with onion, tomato, and a pickle

Day 19

Breakfast: Coffee, almonds and cranberries from Starbucks

Lunch: Gluten-free cheesesteak at the ball park with crabfries. Delicious, and the fries were a total cheat. Oops

Dinner: Pear and walnut salad

*Yeah, I know. But the crab fries were awesome. Have you ever had those things?

Day 20

Breakfast: Coffee, pistachios

Lunch: Salad with cucumber, broccoli, onion, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, almonds, oil & vinegar, watermelon

Dinner: Almond crusted chicken, roasted beets & zucchini, detox tea

Day 21

Breakfast: Nectarine, hard-boiled egg with hot sauce and paleo mayo, detox tea

Lunch: ½ Can of tuna, strawberries and melon, 1 cup red pepper and ground beef soup, Earl grey tea

Dinner: almond crusted chicken with butter and chia, roasted beets and Brussels sprouts, detox tea

*I’ve been running 5-7 miles/day and lifting! Just call me “The Champ.”

Day 22

Breakfast: Omelet with bacon, onions, peppers, and spinach, detox tea

Lunch: Salad with veggies, turkey, almonds, red pepper tomato beef soup

Dinner: Homemade red pepper, tomato, and beef soup with chia, beet greens, and green onions, strawberries, super cookies (lemon not ginger, made with nuts and seeds from Whole Foods)

ginger snaps

Day 23

Breakfast: Naked green juice, detox tea

Lunch: almond crusted chicken with butter and chia, sautéed spinach and beet greens

Snack: Baby carrots and Whole Foods fresh ground almond butter YUMYUMYUM

Dinner: Cajun almond salmon, 1 large chopped zucchini roasted, detox tea

*Feeling great. Working out almost every day, sometimes twice a day. I went on a Whole Foods binge, haha. Got all kinds of good stuff to finish up this Whole30. But then I might just decide to keep doing it and take over the world.

Day 24

Breakfast: 2 hard-boiled-eggs with hot sauce and paleo mayo, detox tea

Lunch: Homemade pepper, tomato, and beef soup with chia, beet greens, and green onions

Snack: Cantaloupe and honeydew

Dinner: 2 Cajun almond chicken thighs, cauliflower and celery root puree with spinach, 1 slice ham, 1 slice turkey, 2 slices hard salami

*Chia seeds are wonderful. They make everything more filling.

Day 25

Breakfast: Cantaloupe and honeydew

Lunch: Turkey, ham, salami roll-up, watermelon

Dinner: two gluten- and nitrate-free chipotle chicken sausages with mustard

*These chipotle sausages from Whole Foods are really delicious grilled and make a great, quick paleo dinner.

Day 26

Breakfast: Turkey, ham, salami roll-up, watermelon

Lunch: Baby carrots and almond butter

Dinner: two gluten- and nitrate-free chipotle chicken sausages with mustard

Day 27

Breakfast: watermelon juice with chia seeds

Lunch: Homemade pepper, tomato, and beef soup with chia, beet greens, and green onions

Snack: ½ can tuna, almond butter

Dinner: 2 Cajun almond chicken thighs, cauliflower and celery root puree with spinach

Day 28

Breakfast: 2 slices turkey, 3 slices hard salami, coffee

Lunch: Homemade pepper, tomato, and beef soup with chia, beet greens, and green onions

Snack: Baby carrots and almond butter

Dinner: 2 Cajun almond chicken thighs, cauliflower and celery root puree

Day 29

Breakfast: Coffee

Lunch: almond crusted flounder filet, beets, cauliflower and celery root puree

Dinner: 2 cajun almond chicken thighs, steamed broccoli

Day 30

Breakfast: 2 slices turkey breast

Lunch: Homemade pepper, tomato, and beef soup with chia, beet greens, and green onions

Snack: Baby carrots and almond butter

Dinner: Big green salad from Giant Eagle

*I actually feel like I could do this all the time. The hardest part is eating anywhere other than home. If I’m with a friend’s family, I feel bad telling them I won’t eat something. And when I’m at a restaurant, I’m very tempted to drop the rules. But overall, I feel amazing. Good food makes you feel healthy.

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Wherever I cheated, and I did cheat once or twice, I have it marked along with whatever poor excuse I had. This just gives you an example of how you could do it. Don’t judge me 😛

Cheating on Paleo and Why It’s a No-No

So yesterday, I talked about what paleo is. I mentioned that cheating is highly frowned upon, but I didn’t really expand. Most diet enthusiasts will tell you to go by an 80-20 rule. 80% foods allowed by your diet of choice and 20% cheat food. Paleo doesn’t roll that way.

Now it’s totally possible that you will see some benefits of the paleo way of eating on this 80-20 plan, but to really see that quality of life-changing difference, you need to commit all the way. Here’s why.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Celiac disease is defined as follows: an immune response in the small intestine triggered by gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over time, the villi (little finger-like protrusions) are beaten down by gluten causing decreased nutrient absorption (1). An epidemiological investigation headed by Rewers, et al 2005 (2), stated that celiac disease affects 1 in 105 to 1 in 1750 people in the United States. This is already a high incidence of disease. Add gluten sensitivity/allergy into the mix and the numbers are more like 40% of the population. (I averaged source estimates together to get this number. An exact number is hard to determine because many people claim to be sensitive who are not, and many more go untested and, therefore, undetected.)

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Someone who has celiac disease or a severe gluten sensitivity cannot have a single bite of a gluten-containing food without repercussions. These include stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, joint pain, and bone pain. Those with true celiac must endure much worse. This is why true paleo diets eliminate all gluten all the time. As soon as damage is done to the intestinal villi, a cascade of problems follows (3). The picture above from Wikipedia shows damaged villi.

So what foods contain gluten? Wheat, barley, and rye. What foods are made with those grains? A lot. What eats those grains? Livestock. Where does dairy come from? Livestock. This is why dairy should be eliminated and all meat consumed should be labeled “gluten-free” and/or “grass-fed.” Where are gluten free grains raised? The same places that raise gluten-containing grains. So yes, this is difficult. But the benefits are worth it.

 

Before you make excuses about “gluten-free” oats or rice, let’s talk about why paleo just won’t bend. All grains. ALL GRAINS contain what has been dubbed “antinutrients” (4). They are as follows:

1. Phytic acid: a phosphorous pool for the seed, but a mineral binder, making all of the healthy minerals in grains (calcium, zinc, magnesium, etc) unavailable for digestion. This antinutrient is also found in nut shells, but since we remove those before eating, nuts and most seeds are ok (5).

2. Lectins: They are the armor of the grain and of the legume. They deter other animals from eating the grains because they are actually capable of perforating the lining of the small intestine. They also have been shown to bind to leptin receptors (6). Leptin is the hormone secreted to signal to the brain that we are full. Lectins can cause a build up of leptin, but with no “I’m full” signal to the brain (7)(8). See the problem?

3. Enzyme Inhibitors: These protect the grain from sprouting until optimal conditions arise. These guys are why if you do decide to ignore me and eat grains, at least soak them in water overnight first. The wetness gets the enzyme inhibitors to lay off a bit, and allows the grain to sprout so that you can extract some (not much) nutrition from them (6).

4. Gluten: Everybody know this beastie.

Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting can help with reducing all antinutrient content, with the exception of phytic acid. These processes actually make minerals even less bioavailable (9).

A good way to avoid gluten from other food sources is to consume only grass-fed meats and alternative dairy from nut sources like almond or coconut. If you’re really invested, watch out for carageenan which is a nasty preservative used in some alternative dairy products (10).

References

1. van der Windt DA, Jellema P, Mulder CJ, Kneepkens CM, van der Horst HE (2010). “Diagnostic testing for celiac disease among patients with abdominal symptoms: a systematic review”. JAMA 303 (17): 1738–46.doi:10.1001/jama.2010.549PMID 20442390.

2. Rewers M (April 2005). “Epidemiology of celiac disease: what are the prevalence, incidence, and progression of celiac disease?”Gastroenterology 128(4 Suppl 1): S47–51. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2005.02.030.PMID 15825126.

3.  Di Sabatino A, Corazza GR (April 2009). “Coeliac disease”. Lancet 373 (9673): 1480–93.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60254-3PMID 19394538

4. Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-852917-1.

5. Cheryan, Munir; Rackis, Joseph (1980). “Phytic acid interactions in food systems”. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 13 (4): 297–335. doi:10.1080/10408398009527293.PMID 7002470.

6.  Gilani GS, Cockell KA, Sepehr E (2005). “Effects of antinutritional factors on protein digestibility and amino acid availability in foods”. J AOAC Int 88 (3): 967–87.PMID 16001874.

7. British Journal of Nutrition (2000), 83: 207-217 Cambridge University Press

8. Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL (2007). “Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity”. In Steinhardt, Richard. PLoS ONE 2 (1): e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687.PMC 1933252PMID 17668065

9.  Hotz C, Gibson RS (April 2007). “Traditional food-processing and preparation practices to enhance the bioavailability of micronutrients in plant-based diets”J. Nutr. 137 (4): 1097–100. PMID 17374686

10. Tobacman JK (2001) Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments.Environ Health Perspect 109(10):983-984.