Archive for ‘“Paleo Plus:” Ancestral Foods’

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

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 17, 2011


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?

September 9, 2011

Baked Liver Pâté: Yum. (Seriously? Seriously.)

Have you signed up for the US Wellness Meats newsletter yet? You could win a $100 gift certificate to their online store. Click here!

As I described in Wednesday’s post, I’m working on eating nose-to-tail. My offal (not awful) point-of-entry was pastured cow’s liver. This was nearly a year ago, and at that point I balked at adding a Tablespoon of grated liver to 2 lbs. of ground beef.

Oh, how I have grown (weirder).

Though eating unconventional cuts may cause me an initial shudder, I also feel a bit of a thrill about it. I feel like a Rogue. A Maverick. An aggregate of Palin-isms the size of Alaska (or Russia, depending on whose backyard you’re in) couldn’t describe the Chuck Norris-esque charge I get when I’m prepping, say, beef tongue.

I know. I’m a pervert.

I won’t try to hide my enthusiasm about the gorgeous, deep-red, pastured chicken livers I got from US Wellness Meats recently. Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available to us today. Chris Kresser writes about it – and does some myth-busting –  here. Liver is a traditional fertility food, rich in folate (different from folic acid – which is often present in pre-natal vitamins as a cheaper alternative to folate) as well as vitamin A and B-vitamins (including B12, which is only available from animal products). Liver is borderline magical. Just look at these puppies:

Diane of Balanced Bites has a photo on this blog post that shows the difference between conventional, “organic,” and true pastured liver. It needs to be red – that’s the sign that the animal led a healthy life. The redder the better.

I wanted to do something a little different, so I went with a baked pâté from Simply Recipes (a site with a fantastic low-carb section). This is almost like a meat loaf (although I’m sure the *Fraahnsh* would disagree.) You can replicate the recipe from the Simply Recipes page.

Since fall is fast approaching and Punxsutawney Phil Pumpkin Spice Latte is peeking meekly out from its hiding place, I’m feeling drawn to those earthy, comforting aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg. This recipe stood out to me for four reasons:

Liver and CINNAMON? Yes please! Add a bottom and top layer of bacon to the deal and I’m totally sold.

This recipe is easy, warm, and tasty; and the baked pâté goes well with a sliver of Herdsman raw milk cheese from the pastured cows at Cherry Grove Farm.

Don’t forget to enter to win a $100 gift certificate from US Wellness Meats! Contest runs through Sunday! Click here!

(They have stuff besides chicken livers, don’t worry. You can get yourself some lamb or bison, or their delicious grass-fed beef.)

April 13, 2011


Look closely at the photo below. Notice anything?


(Jeopardy music)


That’s an extra egg yolk there, lightly poached. Does anybody else do this?

I got sick of fighting through the whites to get to the delicious, ridiculously nutritious, wonderful yolk. So I though I’d just pull one away from the white, poach it for a minute, and see what happened. And it was kinda weird. I’ve come to think of yolk as kind of a condiment, but it still felt weird.

I like it though. I’m making a statement against the yolk-ditchers. Throwing out an egg yolk is absolutely sinful. It’s like being given a million dollars in a baggie, then throwing the million dollars into the garbage disposal and thinking the baggie is going to solve all your problems. Gah! Stop it!

Speaking of baggies, my friend Alyson just introduced me to Lunchskins. They’re adorable, washable, BPA and Phthalate-free baggies. I’m kinda waiting for the right time to tell Cave Husband that I spent $150 on them. Hopefully JUST NOW was the right time. (Sorry, honey pie! I love you and promise these baggies will make your life better!)

I remember, as a kid, wondering why my mom didn’t just throw away all our plastic baggies instead of washing them and turning them inside out to dry, then re-use. I get it now. One, she is wicked awesome. Two, our trash goes somewhere. It goes to a big, disgusting, crud-filled dump and festers before getting covered in more festering trash. This is a prime example of how “out of sight, out of mind” soothes us – nay, tricks us – into complacency about our impact on this world.

Let’s all start compost piles and start using applicator-free feminine hygiene products, ok? Let’s quit pretending our ‘hood is “clean” when all the junk just went to another place. Let’s deal with the junk. That way, maybe I can have kids without thinking the world is going to drown in garbage. As much as kids make me feel awkward, my husband is awfully handsome and chivalrous. It’d be sad not to perpetuate his genes.


CH & Me on our wedding day. We HAVE to pro-create, right?

Next up: I tweeted recently about exchanging the morning coffee for a cup o’ homemade broth. Anybody take me up on that? I’ve seen droves of Paleo/Primal folks trying to kick the coffee habit lately. Although I don’t think that’s always necessary, if you are thinking of ditching the cup o’ Joe, why not replace it with something so totally nourishing and healthful? What an amazing way to start the day!

I wrote about broth previously and have been enjoying a cup most mornings. I used a turkey baster to fill ice trays with the collagen and gelatin-rich pig’s foot broth, and then did the same with beef bone broth. Once frozen, I emptied the trays into a baggie and have been taking a few out each morning, placing them in a mug, then covering them with boiling water. The cubes cool the water to the right temp as they melt.


I don't need no dermatologist to sell me collagen. I've got it in my foot broth!


I feel like I may be going a little off the beaten path lately with my organ meats, my bone (foot) broth and my Hippie Stink. I promise I’m not going to retreat to some cabin in the woods, mumbling about how the government is controlling us by putting mind-control into the water supply. There’s just so much to this life – so many things we do in our daily lives that can be “edited” to be slightly better and more healthful. If I’m kooking out a little too much, feel free to bring me back to center. What would you like to read about here?

February 1, 2011

Know Thyself, Heal the World, Sing Songs, Smoke Pot.

The best side-benefit of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle is the constant, gentle, inevitable nudging toward a life of greater thoughtfulness. The SAD pushers, the low-fat freaks, the whole-grain garbagemen – the Miss Trunchbulls of the School of Fake Food –  set the stage for years of disconnection from my food, my nourishment, and my place in this world; and living TTP (Thoughtfully Through Primalocity) changed that for me.

Yes, Miss Trunchbull!

I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a “Grass-Fed Cow” until around the time I began working out with Coach Rut. Primal? Paleo? Ass? Elbow?

The great thing is, you can’t un-know something like that. Once you’re introduced to a way of eating that’s more than a Diet, and the furthest thing from a skewed morality play (Veganism), you free up that brain-space for actual, obsession-free, gratitude-filled, thoughtful living.

My breakthrough was realizing that I’m part of a perfectly orchestrated Plan. Humans deviate wildly and unknowingly from this central harmony, but it’s there, and bringing myself into alignment with it by nourishing myself properly bonded me to it. Call it Mother Nature, call it God, call it The Force, call it whatever you want. I call it appreciative living. It’s everything that unites us and I’m convinced “it” exists.

Just a quick side note: I own a few pieces of fine leather. I do not smell like marijuana or patchouli. I have several pairs of “skinny jeans” which I tuck into knee-high boots and I enjoy things like makeup, dresses, and being really, really, ridiculously good looking (that’s a movie quote, not narcissism). So no, I’m not a hippie – but yes, I believe there’s a beautiful and systematic interactivity in Nature that we’re well-served by tuning in to.

That's right. I live there.

So I’ve continued to learn and explore. I’ve learned so much from the ideas presented by the Paleo Science folks, the Primal types (this one too), and the Weston A. Price camp (I’m a member). I don’t agree with everything these people say, and I’m prepared to defend that. A few points I believe in that may not be at the top of the Paleo, Primal, or WAP lists:

1) I think food quality is critical to success. Nothing from a grocery store is going to nourish like something from a fully sustainable local farming operation. Sometimes it’s impossible to eat local/pastured and I respect that; but most of us can make the effort to seek out those resources. I’m encouraged to see the Paleo camp leaning purposefully in that direction. (More proof that Paleo + Weston A. Price = Power Rangers of the FoodPocalypse.)

Jennings Farm in Medford, NJ

2) I don’t think fish oil supplementation is a good strategy (I used to, but I don’t anymore) and short-term supplementation is only useful if you’ve got a plan in place for correcting your 3:6 situation through Real Food. I think many folks are too quick to prescribe too much Fish Oil.

3) I think raw milk products like ghee and yogurt are absolutely worth testing and incorporating into the modern diet. Yes, we are “human animals” and we can eat like we’re just hunting and gathering and fighting for life in the wild; but we’ve also honed the ability to think, love, appreciate and create. So nourishing, non-ancestral foods like raw full-fat dairy (if it’s legal in your state, try finding it here) are absolutely useful in a nourishing diet. The work of Weston A. Price convinced me of this. Many traditional, non-westernized cultures thrived because of the nutrients (namely, vitamin K2) they obtained from their animals. Once you’re sure you’re not sensitive to it (and you’re probably not), you should try it out.  You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to use it, but do NOT swear it off without giving it a try.

4) I don’t believe grains have any place in the modern diet, whether sprouted or not. There are no strains of grain left that aren’t hybridized, so there’s no way to replicate the grains of traditional diets with the options available today.

5) I think digestive aids (gut flora) are best obtained and maintained using real, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and raw milk yogurt.

6) I think knowing where your ancestors “came from” is an invaluable way to tackle proper nutrition for you as an individual. There is no one-size-fits-all (Kitavans vs. Aborigines) but there is a framework (traditional/evolutionary) that’s appropriate for everyone.

7) There are a few tweaks you can make to your food plan depending on your goals – whether they be weight loss/gain, athletic performance, or treatment of psychological syndromes. All of these can be accomplished with a nourishing, quality-conscious, traditional-foods type diet.

I use the word “nourishing” a lot. Because without an eye for what’s making us more fulfilled, more grateful, more connected to our world and our bodies, we’re just dieting. We’ve got to build our intuition, our self-respect, and our connection to ourselves and the world – starting with our food.

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