Great new recipe – Ham and Potato Soup

This recipe is perfect for a rainy day. Central Pennsylvania has been very rainy  lately, so this soup was ideal. I know that summer is coming and this is more of a winter recipe, but it’s too delicious not to share. The main reason I decided to make this soup now was because of Easter leftover ham. My aunt asked who wanted the ham hock and the juices, and I said “ME!”

ham and potato soup

That picture definitely does not do the taste justice. But here we go.

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1-2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ham hock (optional, but really adds flavor)
  • 6 cups ham broth (juice from the pan. If not available, any stock will be fine)
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 can white beans (optional. Not paleo, but go very well with this soup)
  • 1 bunch baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6 oz leftover cooked ham

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. After they sweat out a bit, add the almond flour. DO NOT salt this soup. The ham broth and the meat are already very salty, so taste before you salt. Add the bay leaves and sage. Stir until the flour has cooked some. Add the ham hock and meat. Combine and add ham broth. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Add the chopped potato and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans if desired, spinach, and almond milk.

Enjoy!

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Did Paleolithic Cavemen Die at a Young Age?

This is one of the arguments against eating a paleo-style diet. “Cavemen died very young, so why should I try to eat like them?” I don’t know, and I’m too busy sharpening my spear and gathering roots to think about it. I think this argument is silly, obviously, but I still thought I would explore it to see what the real life expectancy of people living in the paleolithic era was. According to this article (1), the life expectancy then was 33 years old at birth. So this included babies and children. If the person made it to age 15, the life expectancy increased to 54 years. This article is peer reviewed I believe, but it is still more anthropology and is considered “soft science.” Now some would say that babies and children should be included in the measurement, but think about this. Babies then were not born in sterile hospitals, there was no medical care, and starving was common. Infectious diseases are now well-controlled in developed countries, and so are wild animals that could eat you. It seems that agriculture was not the miracle we all thought it was. It makes sense to be able to conveniently produce more food, but not if that food is unhealthy. The following article is not peer reviewed, it’s merely an opinion of a researcher, but he makes some good points. The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. One interesting point that is made is that a hunter-gatherer lifestyle means fewer people living in one place. They also moved around more to follow food. This spreading out kept diseases from killing huge amounts of people. A disease may be airborne, but it’s not going to travel 20 miles without a body. Agriculture allowed people to gather in larger groups and not move often. There was no tuberculosis and no diarrheal disease before the beginning of farming, and measles and bubonic plague were not around until cities began to develop. Yes, the crowding caused this, not necessarily the agriculture, but one encourages the other.

LOWER PALEOLITHIC

I am not the only blogger interested in this. Check out this post by Turning the Tide. There is no good way to conduct any hard science in this area as the subjects of interest are long dead. I encourage all readers to consider the information presented and make a logical decision on what they think happened, but don’t just assume that agriculture is the best thing ever. Do some research, and consider what the effects of agriculture have been on our society. I’ve posted a few more articles in the sources that are considered reliable. There are also plenty of articles out there that tell a different story. This has been debated for a long time, mostly because no one can really prove anything. I encourage you to read both sides and make a logical decision.

Ggas_human_soc

1. http://www.unm.edu/~hkaplan/KaplanHillLancasterHurtado_2000_LHEvolution.pdf

2. Tellier, Luc-Normand (2009). Urban world history: an economic and geographical perspective. PUQ. p. 26.

3. Jared Diamond (2012). The World Until Yesterday. Viking. p. 353.

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

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.