December 2, 2011

5 things that’ll make you slightly more perfect (but not obnoxiously so).

I’m not perfect. (I KNOW! Shocking.)

I skip workouts. (MANY workouts). I pop zits. Sometimes I watch Vampire Fiction and delight in the antics of churlish New Jersey Housewives.

(Sadly, I haven’t had much time for television lately – so I’ve been staging my own little vignettes using finger puppets. I call them “The Real Vampires of Paleo Township”)

(Brilliant, babysitter-friendly finger puppets from LaAnt Crafts)

Another thing I do that’s not perfect is…I waste things. I buy single-use plastics and non-reuseables. I’ve gone through more than my fair share of Starbucks to-go cups and I’ve definitely used a plastic bag or two (contributing to the 500 billion plastic bags consumed annually and an ocean deposit of degrading plastics approximately the size of Texas). Yeouch.

I saw the movie Bag It recently and, aside from being delightful (who doesn’t love a self-deprecating narrator with an affinity for crotch jokes), it made me realize that I do some things that are downright lazy.

Lookit. I hate being preached at. I’m not about finger-wagging, whether as a nutrition professional or in environmental matters. I likely won’t re-arrange my life such that I produce absolutely no garbage or never use a plastic bag again. But there are a few things I’d be a jerk not to do that are, at the very least, steps up from the alternative. Here are 5 better choices we can make that aren’t overly hippie or obnoxious.

Thing Number One: Don’t use the disposable cups at the coffee shop.

Aside from the Soy Milk and bad soundtracks, Starbucks does one thing right: they give a discount for bringing in re-usable coffee cups. Let me be an uber-jerk and say this: There’s really no excuse for single-use coffee cups. The number of gas-station and coffee-shop cups that must be discarded every day is staggering. Don’t make it worse.

If you can afford to buy coffee, you can afford to invest in a re-usable coffee cup. Above: Re-usable vessels for Iced coffee AND hot.

Thing Number Two: Don’t buy products built to buttress human ineptitude.

What I mean is, there are certain products that simply scream “I KNOW YOU’RE INCOMPETENT! EMBRACE IT!” Bag It made me realize that the plastic-screw-top carton is one of those products.

Back in “the day” – which was a Wednesday, btw* – people knew how to open cartons. These days, cartons – those remnants of times gone by – are equipped with convenient screw-tops. I contend these screw-tops serve to surreptitiously degrade your self-esteem – because, apparently, you are unable to navigate the difficult world of folding back, then pushing forward to access your full-fat dairy. Let’s be real – the first rule of BEING A CARTON is that you open like this: 

I understand that this is still a throwaway item. But if I’m going to keep enjoying heavy cream in my coffee now and then, it’s going to be from a carton that A) respects my intelligence and B) doesn’t generate more waste in the form of a ridiculous plastic cap.

*Not my joke. I think it’s Dane Cook’s.**

**Please excuse me for knowing AND re-using a Dane Cook joke.

Thing Number Three: Buy stuff that can be reincarnated.

Standard shampoo bottles are generally useless once you’re done with them. But Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap – which I use to supplement my “No Poo” regimen – comes in bottles (made from recycled materials) that are easily re-used for pre-made laundry soap extracted from Soap Nuts (see Thing Number Four) or as a shaker for my Apple Cider Vinegar hair conditioner.

Great Marsh Artisan Skincare (a favorite company of mine that produces crap-free products from seasonal herbs that the owner, Amanda, infuses herself) packages their Peppermint Food Scrub in easily re-used mason jars.

When I’m traveling, I snag the miniature mason jars containing jelly and syrup and give them a new life – they’re perfect for holding coconut oil lip balm.

Thing Number Four: Quit the detergent. Buy soap nuts in bulk.

(Note: I have an article on soap nuts in the latest issue of Paleo Magazine.)

Soap Nuts are amazing little dried fruits that contain saponin, a natural surfactant. They’re perfect for a variety of cleaning tasks, but I love them most for their incredible clothes-cleaning abilities. After using soap nuts to wash our laundry, I could never return to using even the most “green” detergents – they leave residue that is simply filmy, not to mention many are full of icky, unnecessary, and potentially toxic ingredients.

You can purchase soap nuts in bulk here.

Thing Number Five: (Ladies Only)

I’ll be blunt. Think of all the waste we create with our tampon applicators and time-of-the-month products. While Lunapads and Divacups aren’t right for everyone, we can – at the very least – bear the inconvenience of using applicator-free tampons.

Update: Oh. Mah. Gahd. Stacy just alerted me to these. I’m ordering them NOW!

What other ideas or advice do you have for living just slightly less wastefully more perfectly?

November 29, 2011

Is Bacon Actually BETTER For You?

This post also appears at Steve’s Original, where I serve as Nutrition Advisor!

You may be interested to know that before I could begin this post, I had to run to the kitchen and fry up some bacon for a snack. When it comes to well-being, I’m not at 100% until I’ve had a bit of cured pork belly.

Bacon seems to be an item that Paleo/Primal folk regard as a bit of an indulgence. A won’t-make-me-healthier, won’t-make-me-less-healthy, tastes-so-good kind of indulgence. I’ve heard it described as Meat Candy. I’ve wrapped 10 things in it.

I also think most of us are sick of talking about it. We’re tired of debating the relative merits and downfalls of bacon and all the hand-wringing and artificial debate that surrounds it. I get it.

But I ran across a very interesting study in my quarterly journal from the Weston A. Price foundation, and I just had to share.

In the pilot study, the Foundation designed a live-blood analysis intended to evaluate the effects on live blood after consuming various forms of pork (with the addition of lamb as a sort of evaluative control).

Quote: “The blood is the tissue most easily monitored…that shows rapid changes in response to nutrients.” Translation: The blood’ll tell ya if you’re doin’ it right.

The goal: to understand whether “traditional” methods of processing pork – methods like marinating, salt-processing and smoking (read: BACON-izing) were actually affecting the human blood, and how. Traditional cultures have often regarded pork differently than other meats – in some belief systems, it has been considered “taboo” to eat pork. Many cultures who did eat pork employed techniques of marinating and salt processing. Is there some ancient wisdom behind these ideas? To paraphrase Chris Masterjohn, PhD candidate in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition at the University of Connecticut: when we don’t know something, or if the science is debatable, it’s wise to learn from the wisdom of traditional peoples.

The study used unmarinated pastured pork chop (no salt processing); vinegar-marinated pork chop (no salt processing), uncured pastured prosciutto (marinated, also using the added technique of salt processing); uncured pastured bacon (marinated, also using the added technique of salt processing); and unmarinated pastured lamb chop.

The result: Blood showed marked platelet aggregation (considered an adverse change) in unmarinated, unsalted pork. While I cannot reproduce the images contained in the journal, the blood change looks something like this

(on the left, prior to eating unmarinated pork; on the right, platelet aggregation 5 hours after eating unmarinated pork). Left is normal, right is definitely NOT.

Blood showed virtually NO aggregation after eating marinated, salt-processed pork (prociutto and bacon). The study’s conclusions as they appear in the Fall 2011 issue of the Wise Traditions quarterly journal (Volume 12, Number 3):

“The results suggest that unmarinated cooked pastured pork may be unique in producing these coagulation effects on the blood, which also appeared quite rapidly, in less than ten minutes after blood draw, and did not clear up during an hour of observing the blood under the microscope.

“The early blood coagulation and clotting observed after consuming cooked unmarinated pork are adverse changes in the blood…associated with increased systemic biochemical inflammation as well as the possible formation of blood clots in the body…

“The processing of pork in customary ways by salts and acidic marinades makes pork safe for consumption…traditional processing of pork also seems to prevent the inflammatory and blood clotting effects as observed here through live blood analysis, although we do not know why. We speculate that raw pork contains a toxin, unidentified to date, and that heat alone from cooking cannot destroy it, but that fermentation with salt, and also acid plus heat, do so.

The lesson? Bacon is probably the best type of pork you could eat. I’d call that a MAJOR win.

The caveat? It’s got to be good bacon, from pastured pigs raised humanely in a natural environment. There’s really no getting around the fact that meats are healthier when raised under these ethics, but based on the speculated “toxin” in pork, it may be most important to prioritize the purchase of quality pork products. You can find a farmer at EatWild.com.

And while you’re buying your pastured pork, you may want to sport a t-shirt that proclaims what we already knew: Bacon is the new Black.

November 24, 2011

I’m grateful for the hindquarters.

Okay. Sorry if I’m fixin’ to offend anyone. (Update: This post started out with the title: “I’m grateful for my a$$.” I chickened out.)

To preface this post, I’m very, very grateful for the many blessings in my life. I’ve written about this before, and I will again. I’m grateful for this country, for the way thoughtful eating has changed my life, for my so-wonderful-he-can’t-be-real Cave Husband, for my family, for the lifelong friends I’ve made through the Air Force, and for the exceedingly funny and clearly unintentional hilarity The Twilight Saga has brought to my life.

Edward: “I’m British. Dance awkwardly with me.”
Bella: “Did your hair get electrocuted?” 

I’m also grateful for the fact that my little blog has grown. A lot. I have an amazing platform from which to leap in almost any direction I choose, and I get to take you, reader (whether willingly or by force) (probably force), with me. And because it seems that two or three folks are actually listening to me, I’ve felt the bizarre need to retreat back into my little mistake-laden, failure-ridden, redemption-filled shell until I somehow figure out a way to become “Perfect” such that I may fulfill any lofty expectations any of you may have of me. Specifically, I’d prefer to disappear until my skin, hair, and hindquarters are utterly perfect.

You know that backwards mentality where you think, “I’ll join a gym…as soon as I lose 10 pounds.”

That’s how I feel. And for a long time, I didn’t feel that way. I was happy lifting heavy, eating well, enjoying life, and allowing the chips to fall wherever they fell.

But something changed a bit when I realized how grateful and fortunate I am to have a voice in this community. I look around me at these incredible men & women who, in my observation, have healthy eating, exercise, and being awesome all figured out. I won’t name names, but their names are Jen, Diane, Nom Nom, David, Robb, Bill, Hayley, Laura, my readers, and all the other folks in this Real Food movement who inspire and motivate me every day. You all are seriously my heroes.

I’m damn genuine about the things I do – eating well, lifting heavy, and using simple, non-toxic self-care stuff – but sometimes I think…I just wish I was better than I am. 

I’ve had a post in the works for awhile. Its working title: “Is My Ass Too Fat To Be A Paleo Blogger?”

After agonizing over this post for a month and compounding my anxiety by allowing my insecurities to get the best of me, I decided to change my tune a bit. Why? First, because my Ass isn’t a Paleo Blogger; and second, because I realized that I need to GET OVER MYSELF.

Some time ago, I wrote a post entitled, “The Day I Wore Teeny Tiny Shorts.” I discussed my priorities – the fact that I prioritize my sanity above self-judgment and make a (semi) constant effort to quell self-judgment and “on-wagon, off-wagon” thinking. A quote from this post:

“EVERYONE’S insecurities are completely unfounded and ridiculous. At the very least, they’re a complete waste of your emotional capital. Guess what? You’re not fat. Your hair is quite pretty. You’re special, and gosh darn it, people like you.”

Where did my convictions go in these weeks of indulging crippling insecurities? I forgot about my list of healthy-living mentors and started lamenting the fact that I wasn’t one of those lucky chicks who was just born lean and “skinny” and why couldn’t I just be a rail since childhood and take up CrossFit and Paleo and pack on muscle and look like some crazy success story doing handstands on the beach right nooowwwwww?

What happened to my gumption? My pluck? My perspicacity? What happened to my gratitude for the ground I’ve already covered, and my excitement for the road ahead?

I’m not sure. But I’m bringin’ it back. Today, in addition to being grateful for all the things outside of myself, I’m grateful for  the opportunity to be ME. I promise to use this life and this opportunity well. And to shut up about all the crap that doesn’t matter.

And let this serve as my reminder to myself: I’m grateful for my booty. It helps me haul sandbags and fill chairs and get cast in music videos. (Okay, that last one isn’t true.) Rock on, booty, thighs, and hammies. And thank you.

November 17, 2011

WAP FTW

Weston A. Price. Weston A. Price. You’re probably wondering if I ever stop talking about Weston A. Price.

Look. I have three readers. One is my grandmother. (Hi Gammy!) The other two are spam-bots who leave me awesome comments:

What I’m saying is, I can write about whatever I want. And we may be purchasing a new mattress.

Sos’ you three readers can be sure you know what I’m talking about, here are a few of my word vomits posts on Weston A. Price:

From this blog:

Paleo/Primal + Weston A. PriceWAP Me Pretty.Paleo + Weston A. Price: Dietary Domination

From my professional website:

Fermented Beverages: A New Post-Workout Strategy?Nutrition for Athletes, Part 1 and Part 2Super Saturated Fats

From another professional website, Steve’s Original, where I serve as Nutrition Advisor: (at this point, you can surmise that I either spend more time typing than I do being a normal human being; or I simply plagiarize. A lot.)

Farms, Activism, and CrossFit (caution: sound), Paleo Plus: All About Dairy, Part 1Paleo Plus: All About Dairy, Part 2Paleo Plus: Broth

So yeah. I love Weston A. Price. But I don’t love it alone. There are four of us in this Ancestral Health bed: Myself, Weston, and the 2 “P’s” – Paleo and Primal. (So I guess there are, like, several million people in my bed. I may need a shower.)

We’re all targeting our own health and the health of the planet from an ancestral perspective, and together there’s a synergy that’s unfathomable. Collecting the best from each camp is like having a dinner of grass-fed steak wrapped in bacon, topped with crabmeat and a pat of raw butter. YEOWZA!

So I attended the 2012 WAP conference in Dallas last weekend (appropriately entitled “Mythbusters!” and I did a recap today for Steve’s Original – find it here.

A few of the more important tidbits I gleaned from a weekend filled with Science, Braunschweiger and Hero worship:

Science. Braunschweiger. Hero Worship. #Nerdgasm.

1) Vitamin D3 supplementation may be counter-active. I’ll follow the work of MIT researcher Stephanie Seneff, PhD for more on this topic; until then, I may save up for a light box. Also, thanks to Stephanie, I more fully understand the action of sulfur within the body.

Her last lecture, “How Statins Really Work Explains Why They Don’t Really Work,” truly incensed me – to think how many fathers, grandfathers and loved ones are literally dying or losing all quality of life because of Statins absolutely kills me. As Stephanie said (paraphrased), “I would never encourage someone to lower their cholesterol. Cholesterol is doing what it’s doing for a reason.” 

This post from Butter Believer articulates my rage.

2) Arachidonic Acid isn’t the “bad guy” that Barry Sears makes it out to be. Yes, we want to avoid excess Omega 6 from “industrial oils” and processed foods (See Paleo 2.0, scroll to “Excess Linoleic Acid”) but, according to Chris Masterjohn, Arachidonic Acid actually has some really important functions in the body. So enjoy those damn egg yolks and chicken skins, or you’ll answer to my limp fish iron fist.

3) My heroes are actually regular people. I had the privilege of hanging briefly with Chris Masterjohn (most of that time was spent apologizing for a grossly inappropriate Tweet – #Headsmack), eating dinner with a table of Movers & Shakers including Paul Jaminet (to whom I said the word “Awesomest” – #DoubleHeadsmack) and Denise Minger (who, if she noticed my totally awkward, Tourette’s-like “fangirl” behavior, treated me totally normally) and talking the future of the ancestral movement with Kimberly Hartke. It was like introducing Tween Liz to Devon Sawa, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and the BackStreet Boys all at once. I may have lost control of all bodily functions.

4) New friends are awesome. Laura of AncestralizeMe, a future RD and Paleo-oriented WAP VIP, is definitely too smart and pretty to be hangin’ out with a Hippie Blogger like myself. Despite the disparity in coolness, we became attached at the hip and terrorized that conference quite handily. There are some MAJOR Ancestral Health projects in the works, including a call for Weston Price-oriented athletes! Nicole of Sweet Mesquite Acres and Hannah of Kombucha Kamp were so nice and a pleasure to chat with and learn from. Kombucha project forthcoming!

I’m still getting through all the reviews from the weekend, but I’d love to hear from anyone else who was there! What were your favorite tidbits? Do you see the Weston Price, Paleo and Primal movements merging?

November 10, 2011

Bruce Fife on Phytates in Coconut

The Godfather of Coconut, Bruce Fife, wrote to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s quarterly journal about the recent rumblings on the Phytic acid content of coconut. Recent talk in the Traditional Food World have suggested that Phytic acid should be a concern for us coconut-lovers. Phytic acid is one of the major downsides to and reasons for avoiding grains because it basically binds – “chelates” – minerals, rendering them unusable by the body. Here’s an excerpt of what Fife had to say:

“Phytic acid occurs in nuts and seeds in two forms – Phytic acid and Phytic acid salts [Reddy, NR and Sathe, SK (Eds.) Food Phytates. CRC Press, 2001]. Both are generally referred to as “phytates.” Together, these two compounds make up the total percentage of phytates reported in various foods. However, they do not possess the same chelating power. So the chelating effect of the phytates of corn, wheat or soy are not the same as those in coconut. You cannot predict the chelating effect based on total phytate content alone.

“The mineral-binding effect of the phytates in coconut is essentially nonexistent. It is as if coconut has no phytic acid at all.”


Fife goes into greater detail, but it’s great to hear an “expert” view of the topic.

(Excuse my ratty writing – I’m stuck in an airport where service is spotty and fog is impeding my journey to the WAP Conference! Naturally I’m using the time to review my WAP journals. Join the WAP Foundation – the quarterly journals are worth their weight in gold!)

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