Saturday, July 31, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

Modern Paleo blogger Benpercent hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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The Paleo Rodeo #019

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo! (It's a bit late because I was hiking in Salida yesterday, and hence somewhat off-grid.)

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Todd Dosenberry presents Twinkies, Oatmeal Cream Pies, Rice Krispie Treats, Candy… Did You Ever Eat This Junk? posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "While camping for the 4th of July weekend I personally did not have the best food choices. I had no say in the grocery shopping which sucked to say the least. Find out what I did to enjoy myself and eat Primally!"

Laurie Donaldson presents How Does My Garden Grow? Take a Look! posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Just a little update on my garden which is bouncing back after a prolonged drought."

Stephen(Aegis) presents Exercise Should be Fun. posted at Live Smarter, Not Harder!, saying, "Why torture yourself?"

Benjamin Skipper presents Possets' Scents posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "My thoughts on Possets' naturals line of scents. I have since become disenchanted with artificial, 'chemical' scents, so I thought I'd try a natural oil blend."

Nell Stephenson presents COCONUT YOGURT RECIPE! Thanks to one of my readers... posted at TrainWithNellie.

Douglas Robb presents Omega 6 Fatty Acids ....and the Genetic Obesity Timebomb posted at Health Habits, saying, "The high quantities of Omega 6 fatty acids in our modern "Western" diet is causing the creation of a Genetic Obesity Timebomb. A return to a Paleo style of eating is needed to repair the ratio of Omega 6 : Omega 3 fatty acids and defuse the timebomb. Sounds like a job for Paleo Jack Bauer"

Amy Kubal presents The Performance Edge: Ingredients for Success posted at Fuel As Rx.

Josephine Svendblad presents Papaya Pork Center Rib Roast posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "Don't be afraid to cook a huge piece of meat. It saves you money, you can feed many friends and family :-) or just have fabulous left overs."

Frank Hagan presents Diets are Hard posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "'Falling off the wagon' is not a moral failure; it is a biological imperative. You are starving, so it is time to get up, chase down an animal, kill it and eat. Eat until you are sated, eat all you can, and make up for the past days of low calorie intake. That’s how we are built. In designing diets based around the idea of starving the fat off of you, the advocates of this approach are working against at least 200,000 years of human adaptation ..."

Kristy A. presents What To Drink Part 2: What's Wrong with Milk? posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Can you be healthy WITHOUT drinking milk? Let's take a closer look this meal-time staple."

Paul Jaminet presents Lactose Intolerance: Often A Result of 'Silent' Wheat-Derived Bowel Disease posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This post notes that cereal grain toxicity is a common cause of the inability to digest milk sugars, so lactose intolerant people should give up wheat."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview: Sex

By Diana Hsieh

For the past few weeks, I've been highlighting some gems from Ayn Rand's 1964 Playboy interview as part of Modern Paleo's Saturday blogging on Objectivism. As promised, here's a great exchange on the meaning and value of sex:

PLAYBOY: You have denounced the puritan notion that physical love is ugly or evil; yet you have written that "Indiscriminate desire and unselective indulgence are possible only to those who regard sex and themselves as evil." Would you say that discriminate and selective indulgence in sex is moral?

RAND: I would say that a selective and discriminate sex life is not an indulgence. The term indulgence implies that it is an action taken lightly and casually. I say that sex is one of the most important aspects of man's life and, therefore, must never be approached lightly or casually. A sexual relationship is proper only on the ground of the highest values one can find in a human being. Sex must not be anything other than a response to values. And that is why I consider promiscuity immoral. Not because sex is evil, but because sex is too good and too important.

PLAYBOY: Does this mean, in your view, that sex should involve only married partners?

RAND: Not necessarily. What sex should involve is a very serious relationship. Whether that relationship should or should not become a marriage is a question which depends on the circumstances and the context of the two persons' lives. I consider marriage a very important institution, but it is important when and if two people have found the person with whom they wish to spend the rest of their lives -- a question of which no man or woman can be automatically certain. When one is certain that one's choice is final, then marriage is, of course, a desirable state. But this does not mean that any relationship based on less than total certainty is improper. I think the question of an affair or a marriage depends on the knowledge and the position of the two persons involved and should be left up to them. Either is moral, provided only that both parties take the relationship seriously and that it is based on values.

PLAYBOY: As one who champions the cause of enlightened self-interest, how do you feel about dedicating one's life to hedonistic self-gratification?

RAND: I am profoundly opposed to the philosophy of hedonism. Hedonism is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure and, therefore, pleasure is the standard of morality. Objectivism holds that the good must be defined by a rational standard of value, that pleasure is not a first cause, but only a consequence, that only the pleasure which proceeds from a rational value judgment can be regarded as moral, that pleasure, as such, is not a guide to action nor a standard of morality. To say that pleasure should be the standard of morality simply means that whichever values you happen to have chosen, consciously or subconsciously, rationally or irrationally, are right and moral. This means that you are to be guided by chance feelings, emotions and whims, not by your mind. My philosophy is the opposite of hedonism. I hold that one cannot achieve happiness by random, arbitrary or subjective means. One can achieve happiness only on the basis of rational values. By rational values, I do not mean anything that a man may arbitrarily or blindly declare to be rational. It is the province of morality, of the science of ethics, to define for men what is a rational standard and what are the rational values to pursue.

PLAYBOY: You have said that the kind of man who spends his time running after women is a man who "despises himself." Would you elaborate?

RAND: This type of man is reversing cause and effect in regard to sex. Sex is an expression of a man's self-esteem, of his own self-value. But the man who does not value himself tries to reverse this process. He tries to derive his self-esteem from his sexual conquests, which cannot be done. He cannot acquire his own value from the number of women who regard him as valuable. Yet that is the hopeless thing which he attempts.

PLAYBOY: You attack the idea that sex is "impervious to reason." But isn't sex a nonrational biological instinct?

RAND: No. To begin with, man does not possess any instincts. Physically, sex is merely a capacity. But how a man will exercise this capacity and whom he will find attractive depends on his standard of value. It depends on his premises, which he may hold consciously or subconsciously, and which determine his choices. It is in this manner that his philosophy directs his sex life.

PLAYBOY: Isn't the individual equipped with powerful, nonrational biological drives?

RAND: He is not. A man is equipped with a certain kind of physical mechanism and certain needs, but without any knowledge of how to fulfill them. For instance, man needs food. He experiences hunger. But, unless he learns first to identify this hunger, then to know that he needs food and how to obtain it, he will starve. The need, the hunger, will not tell him how to satisfy it. Man is born with certain physical and psychological needs, but he can neither discover them nor satisfy them without the use of his mind. Man has to discover what is right or wrong for him as a rational being. His so-called urges will not tell him what to do.
Thoughts?

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chocolate Review: Ghirardelli's 100% Cocao

By Benjamin Skipper

While it may sound unappealing to most, it is possible to develop a cocao threshold high enough to enjoy full-bitterness chocolate, although I'm not sure how a person would go about establishing such. In my case, I guess my threshold increased through repeated eatings of increasingly bitter chocolate in conjunction with a restricted-sugar diet.

Anyhow, this review is for Ghirardelli Chocolate 100% Cacao Unsweetened Baking Bar. My main intention in purchasing this was to supplement a magnesium deficiency, as I had been suffering from intense leg cramps, but even as my cramps have disappeared I find I enjoy this beyond its supplementary purposes. Without the sugar it tastes uniquely different than that from sweetened chocolate, but not unpleasantly so. My cocao threshold seems to have even transformed the bitterness into something pleasurable and appealing, rather than something to be detested and spit out.

However, I don't seem to respond that strongly to this variety. I suppose that means I've been eating too much of it, so in that area I suggest eating sparingly lest you lose your taste sensitivity, but then again that's just common sense. I thoroughly enjoy the bitterness paired up with something sweet, such as mildly sweetened almond butter. In fact, the other day I was enjoying the combination of placing frozen banana pieces on broken off Ghirardelli bits and eating them in conjunction, giving a wonderful chocolate-banana taste experience. (Much better than that of the Valor's chocolate banana bar. That bar was the worst I've ever had.)

I have to admit that my lack of knowledge in professional tasting prevents me from describing too much in depth its flavor, so the most I can say is that its bitterness is very pleasant and leaves a good aftertaste, and it tastes much more intensely chocolately if a craving is present. Other than that, I ask my readers: Could there possibly be a difference in the taste of cocao beans that would cause a variety of flavors among unsweetened chocolate? If not, then cost and form will be the most important considerations for this type.

Cost-wise this bar is moderately decent, but it's about twice as expensive as the Baker's variety of unsweetened chocolate. Despite that, I've tried both of them, determined that they taste the same, and still prefer Ghirardelli's variety since it trumps in form. While Baker's is much cheaper, it's horrible in form. Upon opening the box I found that Baker's is not in bar form, but rather individual blocks wrapped in pairs. This is what makes is so terrible. The squares are super thick and are too strong for me to be able to break them apart by hand. Even using a steak knife to separate them is difficult, and when I broke through, some of the chocolate went flying. Even breaking them into smaller blocks makes them no easier to eat, as they're still so thick that you really have to gnaw on them to break them apart. This has led to a mess of drool, chocolate bits, and chocolate smudges all over my face, not to neglect the chocolate bits shed on the floor. Baker's is much cheaper and provides more chocolate than Ghirardelli's, but its atrocious form makes it unenjoyable to eat.

Ghirardelli's, in contrast, is in the form of a thin bar, can be broken apart and bitten off easily, and won't leave that much of a mess except if it accidentally cracks apart. If you're on a really tight budget or just want chocolate for supplementation purposes then go ahead and purchase Baker's; otherwise, I've found that Ghirardelli's is much more enjoyable.

Though don't think I'm giving my fullest recommendation to Ghirardelli. So far I've only eaten two unsweetened chocolate brands, so Ghirardelli wins by default for the present. If I consume another unsweetened variety that's equally manageable in form and cheaper, then I'll switch brands. For now, I'd say avoid Baker's solely on the grounds of how frustrating it is to eat.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chocolate Review: Endangered Species' 88%

By Benjamin Skipper

Oddly enough Endangered Species' 88% dark chocolate was one of those chocolates I had to eat multiple times in order to develop a taste for it. I was previously ready to construct a negative review for this variety, but procrastinating on the writing and eating more of the bars in my stash has made me change my mind, though with some qualifications.

Its flavor is obvious: Very dark chocolate with a kiss of sweetness. The vanilla is so subtle that it's barely noticeable and serves only to blunt the natural bitterness of the cocao, but you can detect it if you pay attention. Otherwise: It has good flavor, but there's not much else I can say except "Hey! It's chocolate!"

My biggest personal qualm is with the mouthfeel. Surprisingly, this chocolate doesn't do much in the way of melting in your mouth, so it's going to pretty much stay crunchy up until the last moment unless you eat very slowly. But hey, when you're eating chocolate you don't eat slowly, do you? (I should, I realize.) In this realm I think Lindt's 90% is superior, but I'm hesitant to say so until I eat it again and give it its own review. From memory I recall a creamier mouthfeel, but also a much stronger vanilla presence, so strong that they might as well call it "90% cocoa with vanilla" to be totally accurate. If my memory is correct, then this provides good reasons to consume both brands: Endangered Species for crunchiness and more intense chocolate, and Lindt for creaminess and more intense vanilla. Have both on your shelves!

However, it might be a while before I buy another Lindt bar to confirm my interpretations as my local stores have recently taken the 90% variety off their shelves, meaning I'm likely to need an online venue. For this I reach out to my readers: Is there a good online chocolate website that carries multiple brands? From what I have seen, most stores only carry a handful a brands, meaning one has to go across multiple sites in order to satisfy one's desires, therefore being subject to multiple packages and shipping rates. It'd be nice if I could get it all in one place, thereby negating the need to buy a particular variety in bulk to make it cost-effective.

For the ES 88% variety, I'd consider it worthy of buying in bulk, and am glad I did. My previous negative reaction was mainly due to its mouthfeel and weak vanilla, but now I've come to see it as something rather distinct to this bar. I shouldn't taste one good bar and then expect other brands to conform to that experience; that'd make things boring. However, mint and ginger are still my top favorites.

I'm going to have to get some new varieties to try soon. I'm down to my last two "new" bars in the fridge.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cock-a-leekie soup

By Ryan Kavanagh



Put a couple of beef bones in a pot of cold water (2L–2.5L) and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, finely chop a few baby carrots and wash a stalk of celery. Add these to the stock with a bay leaf or two. Skim the scum that rises to the surface every 10–20 minutes.

Halve 3 large or 6 small leeks along the length of the leek. Cut the white and pale green area of the stalks into centimeter wide slices and wash these in several baths of water to remove the dirt.

After an hour, rinse the chicken and add it to the stock with the washed leeks. Any cut of chicken will do, I used a half-chicken and a few chicken legs with thigh. Traditionally a boiling fowl is used. Continue to skim any scum that rises to the surface.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove it and let it cool for a few minutes to avoid burning yourself. Remove the meat from the bones and return it to the stock.

Serve with the addition of chopped fresh parsley and a few sliced pitted prunes.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Some Musings on Cholesterol and Hypothyroidism

By Diana Hsieh

Dr. Kurt Harris' latest post -- Statins and the Cholesterol Hypothesis, Part I reminded me of some thoughts on cholesterol and hypothyroidism I posted to OEvolve a few months ago. Back in May, I wrote:

On the question of whether high cholesterol is dangerous, I wonder how much the data on that is confused by the fact that hypothyroidism is often undiagnosed or improperly treated.

Hypothyroidism does cause high cholesterol -- and atherosclerosis. It's a major risk factor for heart disease.

Moreover, hypothyroidism is extremely common. It's also under-diagnosed. Many people don't have their thyroid checked regularly. Also, doctors tend to rely exclusively on TSH values, and often permit an outdated wide range for normal. Even once diagnosed, hypothyroidism is most often treated by T4-only medication. That works for some people, but for many others, that's ineffective. That medication leaves all their symptoms intact, while improving only their blood values. So they're put on statins for high cholesterol, anti-depressants for depression, etc.

Undoubtedly, the high cholesterol in undiagnosed or mis-treated hypothyroid people is a warning sign, but that doesn't mean that all high cholesterol is dangerous. However, the fact that so many of those hypothyroid people are running around in the general population might give the false impression that high LDL is a problem per se. I'm doubtful that the epidemiologists are controlling for all that.

However, all that might be secondary to the fact that LDL is calculated rather than measured directly -- and that the single number combines good (i.e. large fluffy) LDL with bad (i.e. small dense) LDL. That's like having a murder rate that includes the birth rate too.

In my own case, my always-high LDL cholesterol improved (as did HDL and triglycerides) after switching to paleo. Then, as I developed serious hypothyroid symptoms, it got worse then ever before. I did a particle size test before I was diagnosed as hypothyroid, and the results weren't great. (That's not too surprising, I think. Later, when I was seriously hypothyroid, I had terrible problems regulating my blood sugar, as if I was subsisting on nothing but pasta and jellybeans, even though I was eating as paleo as ever.) I hope to have another particle size test when my thyroid medication is properly calibrated.
Honestly, I don't know what to think about the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. From what I can tell, the science seems murky. Maybe in 20 years we'll know.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Open Thread #019

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of yummy-porky)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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Donald Berwick, the Pro-Gun Control Lobby, and Paternalism

By Paul Hsieh

The July 23, 2010 PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, "Donald Berwick, the Pro-Gun Control Lobby, and Paternalism".

My theme is that both Donald Berwick and gun control advocates share a flawed view of human nature and a disdain for the rationality of ordinary men. This explains their paternalistic desire to restrict our freedoms.

Here is the introduction:

Q: What do Donald Berwick and gun control advocates have in common?

A: Both distrust ordinary Americans' ability to exercise individual rationality and responsibility. Instead, they believe that the government should restrict our freedoms for our own good. And if they have their way, we'll end up paying the price.

Dr. Donald Berwick is President Obama's newly appointed head of Medicare and an unabashed supporter of socialized medicine. He has repeatedly praised the British National Health Service as a model for the United States to emulate.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a selection of Berwick's public statements on health policy. Two in particular stand out because they are such naked attacks on the efficacy of individual choice and rationality:
1) I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.

2) The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.
Hence, Berwick has explicitly called for doctors to relinquish their "clinician autonomy" and instead follow standardized government treatment guidelines. Patients should forgo using their "unaided human minds" and instead let their "leaders" decide what kind of medical care they should receive.

Many gun control advocates display a similar disdain for the rationality of ordinary Americans. This can be seen most clearly whenever a state considers allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms...
(Read the full text of "Donald Berwick, the Pro-Gun Control Lobby, and Paternalism".)

Update: Thank you, Instapundit!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview: Emotions

By Diana Hsieh

As I mentioned last Saturday, Ayn Rand's 1964 Playboy interview contains some gems that I'd like to highlight in Modern Paleo's Saturday blogging on Objectivism. Here's another segment on the relationship between reason and emotion:

PLAYBOY: Should one ignore emotions altogether, rule them out of one's life entirely?

RAND: Of course not. One should merely keep them in their place. An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man's value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man's reason and his emotions -- provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows -- or makes it a point to discover -- the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow -- then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction -- his own and that of others.
Ayn Rand discussed her views of emotions in various other sources, including in Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged. For now, I'd like to offer her warning to people who fail to think explicitly about their own philosophy, as eplained in the title essay in Philosophy: Who Needs It:
Your subconscious is like a computer--more complex a computer than men can build--and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance--and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions--which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't.

Many people, particularly today, claim that man cannot live by logic alone, that there's the emotional element of his nature to consider, and that they rely on the guidance of their emotions. The joke is on ... on them: man's values and emotions are determined by his fundamental view of life. The ultimate programmer of his subconscious is philosophy--the science which, according to the emotionalists, is impotent to affect or penetrate the murky mysteries of their feelings.

The quality of a computer's output is determined by the quality of its input. If your subconscious is programmed by chance, its output will have a corresponding character. You have probably heard the computer operators' eloquent term "gigo"--which means: "Garbage in, garbage out." The same formula applies to the relationship between a man's thinking and his emotions.

A man who is run by emotions is like a man who is run by a computer whose printouts he cannot read. He does not know whether its programming is true or false, right or wrong, whether it's set to lead him to success or destruction, whether it serves his goals or those of some evil, unknowable power. He is blind on two fronts: blind to the world around him and to his own inner world, unable to grasp reality or his own motives, and he is in chronic terror of both. Emotions are not tools of cognition. The men who are not interested in philosophy need it most urgently: they are most helplessly in its power.
To draw a paleo analogy: just because that muffin tastes sweet doesn't mean that it's healthy... and just because some action feels right doesn't mean that it's truly beneficial for you or others.

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Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

3 Ring Binder hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #018

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Dennis Ryan presents Slow Cooking Carnitas (aka Pork Butt!) posted at Paleo Eats, saying, "Great mexican dish made from the pork shoulder served paleo-style (w/o corn/flour tortilla)!"

Benjamin Skipper presents CR: Endangered Species' 88% posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "My take on Endangered Species' 88% cocao bars. It's good for sweetened/bitter chocolate, but I personally like a stronger vanilla note and creamier mouthfeel."

Dan Gregory presents Moving forward posted at The Red Pill, saying, "A couple thoughts Ironman, food, The China Study and a few pictures!"

Amy Kubal presents I Really Want to Eat Paleo But... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Nell Stephenson presents Attention Athletes: Paleo Carbo Loading posted at TrainWithNellie.

Todd Dosenberry presents My Top 10 Primal/Paleo Snacks posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "Having a few snack items ready on hand is perfect for those times when you just do not have a lot of time or need to tie yourself over before dinner. Find out what my top 10 favorite primal/paleo snacks are and leave a comment with yours!"

Paul Jaminet presents Bowel Disease, Part II: Healing the Gut By Eliminating Food Toxins posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This post discusses why a modified Paleo diet may be the key to overcoming bowel diseases."

Josephine Svendblad presents Crustless Primal Quiche posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "We make it as a power source for breakfast or sometimes lunch. You’re certainly welcome to enjoy it as dinner with a nice side of salad also. The best part is that you can use any left over protein or vegetables to make this dish a success – so go for it and experiment!"

Marc presents Sashimi, Salad and a Silly Band Queen posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "Sashimi at home"

David Lewis presents Rediscovering Cast Iron Cookware posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "Rediscover the simplicity and versatility of cast iron cookware!"

Dan presents Free Radicals: Why They Matter posted at At Darwin's Table, saying, "This blog post is about free radicals and why the hell they matter when it comes to our health!!!"

Richard Nikoley presents MovNat Day 5: The Gauntlet and a Wrap posted at Free The Animal, saying, "Move as nature intended. My MovNat experience. Five post series."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chocolate Review: Endangered Species' Goji Berry, Pecans and Maca

By Benjamin Skipper

Endangered Species' 70% organic dark chocolate with goji berry, pecans and maca is probably the weirdest chocolate I've ever eaten, and I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd be willing to try it again. It says dark chocolate, but it actually doesn't taste like dark chocolate. Somehow the flavors involved -- the chocolate, berry, nuts, and maca -- all fuse in a way that makes this chocolate seem way sweeter than it actually is. According to the label it has ten grams of sugar per serving, two grams lower than my darker and beloved mint, but it tastes almost exactly like milk chocolate, which isn't a good thing if you like the bitterness. If they actually made this variety in a milk chocolate version it would probably be sickeningly sweet.

However, it could also be considered a plus that the flavors all fused together so nicely, leaving little evidence of separateness. The milky flavor is very strong, but one can still detect a subtle hint of pecans and an even subtler hint of the goji berry. I've never heard of or eaten maca before this bar, so I can't say anything about its individual presence except that it doesn't disrupt the balance. As for those unfamiliar with goji berries, my interpretation, based on some juice I drank from my local Wal-mart, is that they taste almost exactly like a fusion of oranges and cranberries.

While the outside of the bar looks fine as par the norm for ES, I've found the appearance after biting into it to be rather off-putting. The pecans or maca, I don't know which or if both, integrated into the chocolate leave their mark in the form of big white chunks, which reminds me of cobwebs and mold. This is probably subjective, however, as many might otherwise immediately think of the rice found in Crunch bars.

My final verdict is that one will have to decide based on personal sweetness preferences. For me, if something is too sweet then my taste buds can only react for a short amount of time before becoming desensitized; the first few bites of the bar were awesome, but after that: blah. As such, I'll probably never try this bar again. However, if you're eating dark chocolate solely for health reasons, in addition to or in spite of taste, then you might appreciate its imitation milkiness while at the same time enjoying nutritional benefits. Of course, stay away if you've never liked milk chocolate to begin with.

This variety offers a unique fusion of flavors that will surprise one with an unanticipated amount of sweetness for this high a level of cocao content, which can be a good or bad thing depending on one's preferences. Since I already have a nifty list of already established higher favorites, such as New Tree's ginger and Endangered Species' mint, so I don't think I'll be making room for it in the refrigerator any time soon.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sausage Stuffing

By Jenn Casey

Or, In Which I Invent a Recipe that Tastes YUMMY. :)

Here's something for you--I'm a really really good baker. I can make yeast breads and rolls and baguettes and all kinds of things that I'm told can be quite complicated to produce. And yet I've always considered myself a so-so cook, and was very hesitant to tinker with recipes on my own. I think it's because I'm a "J" in Myers-Briggs terminology: a planner, organizer, logical rules follower. That's me. And baking as a cooking discipline goes right along with that. Tinkering and playing around with ingredients? Waaaaay to "P" for me!

And yet I have now reached a point in my character development where I can just abandon recipes and tinker away! And you know what? It's really lots of fun!

So here's how this recipe came to be. I happened to have two 20 pound turkeys in our deep freezer (purchased on sale after Thanksgiving last year), and needed room in said freezer for our 1/4 grassfed cow that came to us last Monday. Why NOT make a turkey in June? I asked myself. Indeed. Why not? I responded. After that sensible exchange, I pulled one of the turkeys out of the freezer and stuck in the fridge to thaw.

But what to do about stuffing? Or, even, dressing (which is what I made)? In case you are not part of my family, stuffing goes inside the turkey and dressing is the same stuff not stuffed (heh). And to make matters more confusing, we often use the word stuffing to mean both ideas. So I'll use stuffing from here on out in this blog post, and it's okay if you think I really made dressing, because I did.

But again (I asked myself), what to do about the stuffing? I don't eat wheat any more, and I seemed to recall that bread is an important ingredient in stuffing. Hmph. My friend Jessica suggested cornbread, as that's at least gluten-free and somewhat more lenient on the digestion, but I try to save my corn-related cheating for Mexican restaurants.

Still, there's something about a turkey that calls for something herby and sort of, I don't know, fluffy? on the side. Or even inside, heh.

I searched around on Cook's Illustrated for some sausage stuffing ideas--and there were a few recipes, but all involved bread or cornbread. One recipe suggested using fennel, and that sounded intriguing. I thought and thought about it some more and decided I'd just try to make up my own recipe.

And. I. Did.


It was really tasty! I'll share what I did here--I know it can be improved upon, but for a first-time, make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of recipe . . . well let's just say I impressed even myself. :o)

I tried to pay a little bit more attention to amounts and cooking times than I did last time, partly because I was planning to write this up if it tasted any good, and partly because I was worried that I'd forget what I did and then what if it was good and I couldn't remember and wouldn't that be tragic? (That's the "J" part of me talking.)


Ingredients:

2 pounds mild breakfast sausage (not patties or links)
1 bulb of fennel
4 oz package of mushrooms (I used a mixed variety package, but you go on and pick your favorite)
3/4 pound of small red potatoes (I used Ruby Gold brand, love these little potatoes!)
1 stick of butter
Sea salt
Pepper
Fresh tarragon
Bacon grease or lard
1/4 cup (ish) white wine (if you have any left!)



Make it!

If you don't already have an enormous turkey roasting in your oven, or are planning to prepare this as stuffing-stuffing, preheat the oven to 350. Otherwise, you're good.

Potatoes: Wash the potatoes and chop into bite-sized pieces--I quartered the potatoes I used. Place on shallow roasting pan. Scoop a spoonful or two of bacon grease/lard (so, what's that, a couple of tablespoons?) onto the potatoes and mix around with your hands. The bacon grease will melt a bit and that makes it easier to coat the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (if you have pepper--I don't for some odd reason, so it was salt-only for us).

Roast for about 30 minutes or so, using tongs to move the potatoes around the pan once or twice during the process. This helps them not stick, and tosses them a bit so that all sides get brown and delicious. When the potatoes look brown and delicious, that means they ARE brown and delicious, so take them out of the oven! Set them aside so they cool, taking care to sample some right off the piping hot roasting pan because they are SO good.




While the potatoes are roasting, you can saute the mushrooms and fennel. It didn't occur to me until afterwards, but I think you could saute them both together. Alas.

Mushrooms: Melt half a stick of butter in the skillet over medium (I think) heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook while stirring them around a bit for what, about 5 minutes or so? If you don't like mushroom juice, drain it off and then set the mushrooms to the side.



Fennel: This was literally the first time I've ever even cooked with fennel. See how I'm just throwing all caution to the wind here? The Cook's Illustrated recipe that had fennel in it (found here but I think you might need a subscription) mentioned slicing, coring, and dicing the bulb. Suddenly, I knew something about what to do with a fennel bulb! Woohoo!

So, cut the bulb in half and take out the middle parts. I didn't dice it, and left it in fairly large chunks, partly because I wanted to make it easy for suspicious children anyone to be able to eat around it, in case they didn't like the flavor.

Melt half a stick of butter in the skillet over medium (I think!) heat. Add the chopped fennel and saute. I was working on the theory that it's kind of like onion, and tried to saute until it was translucent. How long does that take? you might rightly ask. And I will tell you: I have no idea, because just as I put the fennel into the skillet, the turkey finished roasting, so I took the enormous turkey out of the oven, removed the thermometer, covered the bird with foil, burned myself on the thermometer, tended to my wounds with ice water for a while. So figure out how long such a process might take you, add a couple of minutes, and THAT'S how long it takes.

Or, you might just watch to see if it turns translucent. As it happened, I didn't cook the fennel quite as long as I should have. Or maybe I'll dice it more finely next time. Still yummy though.

Set the fennel to the side.




Sausage: Brown the sausage in the skillet, adding a little salt, pepper (if you are the type who ordinarily has black pepper around the house, as opposed to me). As it was nearing the end of the browning process, it smelled to me like it needed more flavor. Fresh tarragon (which I had on hand thanks to a suggestion earlier in the week from Jessica) turned out to be Just The Thing.


Combine: Now here I had all of the ingredients, but still no stuffing. Since the bird was still insanely hot (and my finger was still smarting!) and I wanted the flavors to blend a bit, I decided to toss everything into a casserole dish. Mmmm . . . yummy smells. Before I put the dish into the oven, I added more tarragon, and then, in a moment of inspiration, some Sauvignon Blanc that I just happened to have in the fridge, taking care to reserve a generous dram or two for the chef.

Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring once maybe.

And here it is!






I really liked how it was almost fluffy, just like regular stuffing. I think the flavors went well with the turkey (which I roasted with lemons and thyme, just fyi), and it was Thanksgiving-ish. I think I'll be making versions of this non-carby stuffing forever into the future.

And now that I have this as a base recipe, here are a few things I'd like to try:
  • Saute the mushrooms and fennel together, and/or cook the fennel longer.
  • Try out different herbs--sage might be nice, or thyme.
  • Have pepper in the house.
  • Stuff the bird with it--it tastes so delicious with the reduction sauce I made from the turkey drippings that I can't help but think it will taste fantastic if stuffed inside the bird. I dunno how much pre-cooking would need to be done in that case though.
  • Think of other things that are paleo-friendly and/or yummy to add. Oooh! Maybe cranberries for Thanksgiving?

If you happen to try this--and sure, I can understand if you wait until, say, November--and make modifications, I'd love to know about it!
This post was originally published at my blog, Rational Jenn.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Hypothyroidism Update: Odds and Ends

By Diana Hsieh

As I reported some weeks ago, my thyroid labs in early May showed that my TSH dropped below normal, suggesting that I was a bit over-medicated. So my doctor asked me to shave a bit off my desiccated thyroid by reducing my daily dose from 1.5 grains to 1 grain once or twice per week. As I said in that post, "[My doctor] thinks that might help with my lingering symptoms, given that the symptoms of mild hypothyroidism are often the same as the symptoms of mild hyperthyroidism. (Nice, eh?)"

To my surprise, that strategy seemed to work. Starting in late May, my skin wasn't so dry, my basal temperature stayed above 97, I never felt unbearably cold, and my mind seemed sharp, and my energy levels increased. However, I'm not sure if that was due to the slight reduction in desiccated thyroid or not. I began CrossFit in the same week as that change in medication, and that clearly kick-started my metabolism.

Then, for most of June, my life was far more stressful than usual. I had two very hard deadlines: the podcast on finding good romantic prospects and then my OCON course on luck. On top of that, the debate about the NYC Mosque was personally stressful for me. After that, OCON disrupted my usual quiet routine, required me to teach every morning at 9 am, and cut down my sleep to merely tolerable levels. Of course, OCON was a blast, but such blasts are stressful for mind and body.

Unsurprisingly, some of my hypothyroid symptoms have returned over the past few weeks, particularly just after OCON. After I returned home on Sunday, the skin on my hands, particularly around my nails on my hands and feet, dried up and split open. It looked like the early stages of some nasty disease. (Ick!) After my first CrossFit workout in weeks on Tuesday, then skipping the second half grain of desiccated thyroid on Wednesday, that skin returned to normal, even though I did nothing for it. In addition, I experienced serious memory problems early in the week: I couldn't retrieve proper names, including of people and places that I've known and used regularly for years. I noticed similar problems in the stressful weeks before OCON, although far more mild. That problem has faded to a minor nuisance, thankfully. I've not had as much energy as I'd like, and I've had some minor problems sleeping too.

In short, my body is acting strangely. The stress of the past few weeks has likely had some impact, not just on my production of thyroid hormones, but also on cortisol production too. I'm curious as to the overall impact of the CrossFit workouts, as well as the reduction in my dose of thyroid medication. I wonder about the long-term effects of my high-dose iodine supplementation. All that might be difficult to sort out, unfortunately.

I don't want to give the wrong impression: I'm doing very well, overall. Yet I'm trying to be very sensitive to changes in how I'm feeling: I want to see the patterns, as that might enable me to adjust my dose of desiccated thyroid downward even further. I would love that, and I'll definitely talk to my doctor about it when I see her in October. I'll have another thyroid panel in early August too, so I'll be curious to see what's happened with my TSH.

Of course, I'll report back about what I find!

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Open Thread #018

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of stuart_spivack)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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Hsieh PJM OpEd: "Should You Be Allowed To Know What's In Your DNA?"

By Paul Hsieh

The July 15, 2010 edition of PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, "Should You Be Allowed to Know What's In Your DNA?"

My theme is that you should be free to acquire knowledge about yourself that will help you act according to your best judgment for your benefit -- in particular, by helping you treat, mitigate, or prevent bad diseases through knowledge of your own genome.

Although this piece focuses on a seemingly narrow concrete (i.e., the FDA's new restrictions on direct-to-consumer genetic testing), I attempted to use this concrete to show how apparently small regulations can have a major impact on Americans' lives -- as well using it as a springboard to discuss broader themes of free markets vs. government regulations, paternalism vs. individual responsibility, and the virtue of pursuing one's rational self-interest.

Here is the introduction:

"You can't handle the truth!"

That's the federal government's latest message to Americans seeking to learn the content of their own DNA.

Recent advances in biotechnology have allowed private companies to offer affordable genetic testing directly to consumers, to help them determine their risks of developing problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. In response, the U.S. government has told these companies that their tests must be approved by FDA regulators before they can be sold because, in the government's words, "consumers may make medical decisions in reliance on this information."

These restrictions thus represent a new level of government paternalism over the citizenry. In the name of "protecting" us, the government seeks to prevent willing consumers from learning medically useful information about their own bodies that could tell them which diseases they may develop -- and help them make important treatment, prevention, and lifestyle decisions...
(Read the full text of "Should You Be Allowed to Know What's In Your DNA?")

[Cross-posted from NoodleFood.]

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I post a link to "The Objectivist Roundup" every week. The "Objectivist Roundup" is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome.

The Playful Spirit hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. It's the third anniversary edition! If you're interested in learning more about what Objectivists are writing and doing, check it out!

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Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview: Purpose

By Diana Hsieh

Ayn Rand's 1964 Playboy interview contains some gems that I'd like to highlight in Modern Paleo's Saturday blogging on Objectivism. To start, here's a fascinating discussion of the crucial importance of purpose in life, including the moral and emotion devastation wrought by not know what you're doing or why.

PLAYBOY: In Atlas Shrugged, one of your leading characters is asked, "What's the most depraved type of human being?" His reply is surprising: He doesn't say a sadist or a murderer or a sex maniac or a dictator; he says, "The man without a purpose." Yet most people seem to go through their lives without a clearly defined purpose. Do you regard them as depraved?

RAND: Yes, to a certain extent.

PLAYBOY: Why?

RAND: Because that aspect of their character lies at the root of and causes all the evils which you mentioned in your question. Sadism, dictatorship, any form of evil, is the consequence of a man's evasion of reality. A consequence of his failure to think. The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose -- a productive purpose.

PLAYBOY: Weren't Hitler and Stalin, to name two tyrants, in control of their own lives, and didn't they have a clear purpose?

RAND: Certainly not. Observe that both of them ended as literal psychotics. They were men who lacked self-esteem and, therefore, hated all of existence. Their psychology, in effect, is summarized in Atlas Shrugged by the character of James Taggart. The man who has no purpose, but has to act, acts to destroy others. That is not the same thing as a productive or creative purpose.

PLAYBOY: If a person organizes his life around a single, neatly defined purpose, isn't he in danger of becoming extremely narrow in his horizons?

RAND: Quite the contrary. A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man's life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos. He does not know what his values are. He does not know how to judge. He cannot tell what is or is not important to him, and, therefore, he drifts helplessly at the mercy of any chance stimulus or any whim of the moment. He can enjoy nothing. He spends his life searching for some value which he will never find.

PLAYBOY: Couldn't the attempt to rule whim out of life, to act in a totally rational fashion, be viewed as conducive to a juiceless, joyless kind of existence?

RAND: I truly must say that I don't know what you are talking about. Let's define our terms. Reason is man's tool of knowledge, the faculty that enables him to perceive the facts of reality. To act rationally means to act in accordance with the facts of reality. Emotions are not tools of cognition. What you feel tells you nothing about the facts; it merely tells you something about your estimate of the facts. Emotions are the result of your value judgments; they are caused by your basic premises, which you may hold consciously or subconsciously, which may be right or wrong. A whim is an emotion whose cause you neither know nor care to discover. Now what does it mean, to act on whim? It means that a man acts like a zombi, without any knowledge of what he deals with, what he wants to accomplish, or what motivates him. It means that a man acts in a state of temporary insanity. Is this what you call juicy or colorful? I think the only juice that can come out of such a situation is blood. To act against the facts of reality can result only in destruction.
Most people lack purpose with respect to their diet and health. They simply go with the flow, eating whatever others eat, accepting whatever their doctors say. For too many people, that strategy leads only to suffering and perhaps even death.

The same pattern can be found in every other aspect of life -- such as career, friendships, romance, family, hobbies, and lifestyle. The more purposeful you are in pursuit of your values, the more likely you are to achieve them and the happier you'll be. (Fancy that!)

So here's a question: What could you do to make your life more purposeful? What kinds of benefits might you experience from doing that?

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Friday, July 16, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #017

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Travis Schefcik presents The Top 5 Ugly Lies About The Paleo Diet posted at Uncommon Wellness.

Benjamin Skipper presents CR: Endangered Species' Goji Berry, Pecans and Maca posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Although this chocolate is 70% cocao all the flavors fuse in a way that makes it seem way sweeter than it should be, like milk chocolate. Some will like it, some won't."

Mark Sison presents A Visual Guide to Sea Vegetables posted at Mark's Daily Apple, saying, "About 160,000 years ago the human diet expanded to include seafood. Early humans became coastal dwellers at least that long ago, and ever since then we’ve been inextricably linked to the sea. The sea contains our most reliable source (when we aren’t dining on the brains of ruminants) of the all-important, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. And then there’s the edible sea vegetation."

Amy Kubal presents The Kids Are NOT Alright... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Todd Dosenberry presents Primal/Paleo Recipes: Grass Fed Hot Dogs w/ Veggies & Banana Avocado Green Smoothie posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "I love hot dogs and enjoy making creative dishes with 100% grass fed hot dogs now that I am primal/paleo. Skip the bun and make the meal more healthy and tasty!"

Laurie Donaldson presents Hot Day Salmon Hash posted at Food for Primal Thought.

Jeff Pickett presents My Primal Reality Show Idea Gains Momentum posted at Primal Chat, saying, "It started off as a joke. Instead it revealed the comments and opinions any blog would be jealous of - Great conversation."

Nell Stephenson presents Paleo Cooking Tip - 'Thickener' Options posted at TrainWithNellie.

Frank Hagan presents Protein Intake: Special Cases posted at Low Carb Age, saying, "Do the minimum protein values in low carb diets put women and children at risk?"

Daniel Bassett presents Meat Eaters vs Vegetarians Part III: Do Vegetarians Get Enough Essential Fatty Acids? posted at At Darwin's Table, saying, "The debate between vegans and paleo eaters rages on whether you can get enough omega 3 fats without eating meat. In this post I explore this question."

Paul Jaminet presents The Danger of Protein During Pregnancy posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "discusses why protein restriction is desirable for infants and during pregnancy"

Julie Sullivan Mayfield presents Paleo Pow Wow - tasty stuff! posted at BTB's Nutrition and Performance Blog, saying, "Spicy salmon appetizer recipe - a crowd pleaser - along with some variations on a theme."

Nicole Markee - Astrogirl presents Shake It Up! posted at Astrogirl, saying, "I'm a big believer in making changes when something isn't working."

Kristy A. presents What To Drink Part 1: What's Wrong with Juice? posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "What is best to drink on the paleo/primal/low carb diet? Juice, once touted as a health drink, turns out to be NOT so healthy. Learn why in part one of the series where we'll size up the competition to quench your thirst."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.

Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Did I Make?

By Lee

Just wondering what to call this yummy treat. It was so good to eat that I had serious doubts about having invented something new. You know that feeling: this is so good it would be impossible to believe I was the first to think of it... that feeling.

three eggs
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
two shake cinnamon powder
two splenda packets
Combine with fork (as in omelet)
three pieces of bacon (chopped in small pieces and fried)
four pieces Gruyere cheese (cut in julienne)
handful of blueberries

To cook: heat a medium fry pan with butter and pour in the egg mix. Cook on one side - once cooked 3/4 through, place cheese, cooked bacon, and blueberries on one half of the circle. Fold and transfer to plate. Microwave on high for one minute to finish out the egg (and avoid any food poisoning).

Eat and enjoy! Now what is that called? Is it a quiche? Is it a fritatta? Is it just a fancy omelet? I would call it just a fancy omelet except that the heavy whipping cream, after some heavy whipping, began to thicken and rise. The whipping (and the sweet ingredients) gave the final product a kind of dessert quality. The bacon and cheese leaned more toward the conventional omelet and gave it a meaty bulk. I wonder if other bulk protein items would give it that push it needs. There are no grain-based ingredients. I just now ate it and the blueberries are still with me. Yu-um.

If this concoction sounds familiar to you, please let me know what it is (or what it ought to be) called.

Thanks,
Lee

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Paleo Has Enhanced My Life (Speech to Ringers Toastmasters Club)

By Robert Begley

[My friend Robert recently gave this speech at the Ringers Toastmasters Club in NYC about his transition to the paleo lifestyle. I recently joined the club myself. /CW]

I absolutely love food. The taste of piping hot lasagna, the fresh scent of garlic, the crackling sound of eggs frying on a pan, the feel of a knife going through a thick juicy steak, the red, white and blue sight of strawberries and blueberries topped with whipped cream. Yummy! Put beer in front of me and I yawn. Offer me the most exquisite wine and I will pass. Hard liquor? Forgetaboutit. Freshly ground coffee smells good but as Cyrano says: “No thank you! No, I thank you! And again I thank you!” However, put food in front of me, and I will respond.

Unfortunately, I haven’t always liked the best and healthiest foods. Growing up poor, I developed poor eating habits. With 11 of us around the dinner table, you had to eat so fast you hardly tasted the food. My mother would often tell us, “don’t shovel!” Whenever cake was sliced if it was a sliver larger for one than the rest, there would be outrage about, “he always gets the biggest piece.” The choices were usually inexpensive foods like macaroni (it wasn’t yet called pasta), Italian bread and cereal.

I must admit, when I left home I didn’t change much. Perhaps I added pizza, Stella D’oro cookies to the mixture. Also, if I passed a store that had Breyer’s ice cream on sale, I’d walk in like a zombie and make the purchase.

As a ballet dancer, I’d see myself in the mirror regularly, so whenever extra unwanted pounds appeared, I’d cut out the high carb foods. But, I would drift back to my regular pattern over and over again.

Obviously this is not healthy.

This past March that all changed. One weekend at a family celebration I overdosed on pasta, breads, cake and ice cream, and I felt awful. The following day I attended a friend’s concert. After the performance there was a reception in which they had coffee, tea and Italian cookies. I had one cookie, then another, then chatting with friends I planned to leave and I said I wanted one more for the road. My friend Christian told me that he hadn’t had a cookie in over two years. I stopped. (I didn’t stop munching, I just stopped in my brain.) I wondered if I could ever utter that statement.

Around this same time I had been reading a lot on the internet about the Paleo diet. Paleolithic is caveman. (This is appropriate because my sweetheart often accuses me of having too many caveman qualities.) The principle behind it is that for 9/10ths of human existence, we have survived on meat, fish, fowl, nuts, berries and leafy vegetables. I thought to myself, what’s missing? What ingredients are included in my food addictions like pasta, bread, cereal, etc.? Grains and sugars.

The Paleo theory contends that many of today’s ‘diseases of civilization’ such as diabetes and obesity are wheat and sugar based, and did not exist in the caveman era.

You might think that this sounds like the Atkins or South Beach diets, but I think of those more as fads that don’t necessarily avoid processed foods.

Since the Paleo way sounded rational to me and I agreed philosophically, it was now time to work on the psychological aspect. So, I vowed to immediately stop buying all high carb foods, whether it was on sale or not. The principle being that my health was more important in the long term than any immediate gratification I might encounter. Next came the idea of how to gradually transform my diet. I planned to do one day on Paleo, one day off. The following week, two days on Paleo, one day off. Next week, three days on, one off, etc. Until it became a steady part of my life.

The result? I dropped 15 pounds, have more energy and am waxing! Now at family gatherings I’ll have sausage and peppers or chicken cutlets, instead of six plates of baked ziti. And for dessert I often have strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, perhaps with some whip cream.

In conclusion, I am not 100% Paleo and can’t say I ever will be. But what I am is more aware of my health and I have a system that makes sense and eliminates my food addictions, so that eating is a positive instead of negative part of my life. I don’t crave high carb foods anymore and am fully convinced that I will live a longer, healthier life due to my Paleo conversion.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick & Easy Broccoli Soup

By katherine

I made up this recipe the other day, and it was quite tasty.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ghee or butter
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 crowns of broccoli
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper

Method:

Remove the florets from the stem of the broccoli. Cut large florets to a similar size as the small florets. Dice the broccoli stems.

Add the olive oil and ghee to a soup pot, and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, saute the onion and celery until the onion is translucent (about 5-7 minutes).








Add in the broccoli and garlic, and saute for another minute or two.








Pour in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.








Puree the soup in a blender in batches. Cover the blender with a towel, as the lid tends to fly off when hot soup is being pureed due to steam pressure. Return the soup to the pot, and add the cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Once heated through, the soup is ready to eat!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Are We Programmed Inside the Womb?

By Christian Wernstedt

Loren Cordain recently linked to this paper which adds to the evidence that we are significantly affected in adulthood by the diet and metabolic condition of our mothers during pregnancy.

In this case, the paper shows a correlation between excess protein intake in pregnant women and elevated cortisol (a stress hormone) in their offspring as adults.

The findings are correlations, but there is a straightforward theory of causation which is that if the developing fetus is exposed to high cortisol concentrations (as occur after the mother consumes a big protein meal) its cortisol-setpoint may be affected to program lifelong hyper-secretion of cortisol, potentially leading to disease later in life.

If this hypothesis is true about cortisol, then very likely other hormonal setpoints are affected as well during gestation, explaining some of the differences we see in people's ability to handle excess calories, carbohydrates, stress, etc, as well as how easy it is to correct health problems related to such metabolic- and hormonal issues.

(The environment that we are exposed to during childhood is of course also important.)

Now, to a somewhat philosophical question: If there is such a thing as a "setpoint", where is it located, and can it be changed once programmed in the womb?

I tend to think that physiological setpoints are not like the programmed setting on a mechanical thermostat, or the contents of a computer's ROM (read only memory), but should rather be viewed as regulatory equilibriums that are emergent phenomena. That is, setpoints don't exist as physical entities, but are rather an effect of physiological processes aiming for homeostasis in each transition from one state to another. (The whole chain of transitions beginning at conception - or earlier if we want to be precise.)

It may be difficult to change these equilibria because of the negative feedback loops involved in homeostasis. For example, if we try to affect our fat set points by diligent fasting, the body may respond by making us hungrier and up-regulate fat storage.

On the other hand, I don't think that we should throw in the towel on affecting our setpoints.

If setpoints are indeed expressions of equilibria let's, for instance, learn how to push the underlying hormonal- and biochemical processes in a desired direction without triggering negative feedback such that a reorientation around a new equilibrium (setpoint) is achieved.

I think that this can be done at least with some setpoints. For instance Martin Berkhan at Leangains seems to have found a program for getting quite obese people down to single digit fat percentages and to keep them there. Perhaps this involves re-setting the set point of leptin (a hormone regulating our fat stores).

Another way to handle one's setpoints is of course to acknowledge them and adjust our lifestyles to make the best possible out of our individual configurations.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Open Thread #017

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of fotoosvanrobin)


This post hosts Modern Paleo's weekly open comment thread. Please feel free to post any random questions or remarks you have in the comments on this post. Personal attacks, pornographic material, commercial solicitations, and other inappropriate comments will be deleted.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Objectivist Roundup

By Diana Hsieh

[Note: This post is part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays.]

Sandi Trixx has this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in reading some blog commentary by Objectivists on all kinds of topics, go check it out!

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Friday, July 09, 2010

The Paleo Rodeo #016

By Diana Hsieh

Welcome to this week's edition of The Paleo Rodeo!

The Paleo Rodeo is a weekly blog carnival featuring the best paleo-related posts by members of the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. The past editions are collected on this page.

What is "paleo"? As I say in Modern Paleo Principles:

A "paleo" approach to health uses the evolutionary history of homo sapiens, plus the best of modern science, as a broad framework for guiding daily choices about diet, fitness, medicine, and supplementation. The core of paleo is the diet: it eschews grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables.
The purpose of The Paleo Rodeo is to highlight some of the best blogging of the ever-growing paleosphere.

Here is this week's edition:
Todd Dosenberry presents I Am Going Nuts About Nuts Nutrition Part 1 posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "What nuts are the most healthy? Why? I lay out the nutrition of 4 common nuts with my thoughts. Tell us all your favorite nuts with a comment."

Frank Hagan presents Dr. Weil's Evolving Dietary Standards posted at Low Carb Age.

Laurie Donaldson presents High and Dry in Big Sky posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "A review of wearing my VFFs in the Rocky Mountain Front."

Amy Kubal presents Not So "Sweet Suprise" - Fructose Makes Blood Pressure Rise... posted at Fuel As Rx.

Daniel Bassett presents Mediterranean Stew posted at At Darwin's Table, saying, "Recipe for a yummy paleo stew"

Nell Stephenson presents Prosciutto Wrapped Melon? How about Turkey? posted at TrainWithNellie.

Paul Jaminet presents It’s easy to be malnourished posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This post notes that diet plans for the South Beach, Atkins, DASH, and other diets provide insufficient amounts of certain nutrients, and suggests that most Americans are probably malnourished."

Richard Nikoley presents T. Colin Campbell's The China Study: Finally, Exhaustively Discredited posted at Free The Animal, saying, "Please consider spreading this information to your respective circles of influence. This is a well-deserved takedown of a best selling lie, uh, book."

Kate Yoak presents Pork Medallions in Wine sauce posted at Cave Kitchen, saying, "I am on a quest to master Paleo cooking, while keeping the day's momentum going. This recipe is about whipping up a meal of savory meaty goodness in the nick-of-time."

Dennis Ryan presents Paleo Sloppy Joes posted at Paleo Eats, saying, "Follow along as I cook up some Sloppy Joes made with grass-fed beef."

Josephine Svendblad presents Mashed Butternut Squash posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "So what’s in a butternut squash?
It’s considered a Powerhouse, because it’s low in fat, is loaded with dietary fiber, which of course makes it an excellent choice for our powerhouse, the heart."

Kristy A. presents Sunshine of Your Love Part 7: Supplementation Source posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Read this week's installment to find out where the vitamin D in the bottle comes from and how it is a naturally renewable resource. Enjoy!"

Jeff Pickett presents What's Cooking at PrimalCamp? posted at Primal Chat, saying, "Imagine Primal/Paleo folk gathered in regional settings to talk, eat, workout and compare stories. Imagine PrimalCamp."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! I hope to see this blog carnival grow in the future. If you blog on paleo-related matters and you'd like to submit your posts to the carnival, please subscribe to the PaleoBloggers e-mail list. You'll receive instructions and reminders via that list.


Finally, you can find all of the blogs of the PaleoBloggers on this continuously-updated list:
Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Planning a Party for Diverse Diets

By katherine

This Fourth of July I faced an unusual challenge in planning our celebratory barbecue. The guests included two guests with Celiac disease (one of them being me), one pescetarian (eats fish, no meat), one low-carber, and one Primal kid (me again!).

At first glance, it seems impossible to compose a menu that will please all palates while providing enough diversity for the guests without restricted diets. Nevertheless, I found a way to create a meal that would please everyone, leave no one hungry, and provide variety and abundance for all.

Since I have the most restrictive diet (Celiac and Primal) and since I was the primary cook, I figured I could forgo appetizers. To start I chose to make guacamole with tortilla chips (gluten-free) and to serve a passed appetizer of crab-stuffed mushrooms (meatless). Who doesn’t like guacamole? Really? The tortilla chips also made this dish Celiac friendly, so my boyfriend’s brother - the other Celiac in the group - could enjoy some pre-dinner munchies.

Now as a side note, I will add that the guests were also enjoying beverages. It is a good idea to stock up on a variety of drinks, be they alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Guests without any dietary restrictions can enjoy any sort of adult libations, but it is also possible to find decent gluten-free beers (New Planet, Redbridge, etc.). Wine and spirits can also be good options for your gluten-free guests. Of course, drinks need not be alcoholic, as I enjoyed sparkling and mineral waters all evening. I highly recommend supplying a few bottles of sparkling water at your party because they give your non-alcohol drinkers a sense of festivity without the addition of alcohol. If you choose to have some sparkling water, consider preparing some wedges of lemon or lime in advance to serve with these drinks.

Alright, so on to the main meal. I wanted to grill since it was the Fouth of July! Given my restrictions, I went to the store and saw that the Arctic Charr would be the best choice. It looked fresh and delicious. I bought three filets. My boyfriend grabbed four skewers of prepared vegetable skewers. I picked up a bunch of asparagus. I had also prepared a Greek-ish salad made up of red onion, tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, kalamata olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar, spices, and feta cheese.

I guess I won’t bore you with recipes for now. However, the raw ingredients were prepared and ended up on the grill and came out beautifully, served with my Greek-ish salad. It was Primal; it was delicious; and, nobody came away hungry.

I guess the whole philosophy behind the meal was not to completely exclude anyone. At the same time, I did not find it necessary to accommodate every person’s diet with every dish. My goal was to provide each person with at least one or several options for each dish (the main dishes were entirely pescetarian, low-carb, gluten-free, but just not all Primal). The only person I kind of excluded was myself, but that’s because I was the host, and I was too busy to eat any appetizers. I think variety was the key with this meal, and, so long as one tries to accommodate one’s guests for the most part (think 80/20 principle), then I think one should have no problems.

I know my guests left very full and happy. Maybe too full and happy, but I know everyone enjoyed the food and never had to restrict his or her consumption. We didn’t even have dessert!

Well, if you want more details, let me know. Otherwise, I hope my advice can help you with the planning of your menus when dealing with very diverse menu requirements.

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Paleo Quick Notes

By Christian Wernstedt


Got some blood tests done. Here's about my kidneys.

First a short technical note: Creatinine is a byproduct of muscle breakdown which the kidneys are supposed to clear out of the blood stream. Elevated blood serum creatinine is a marker for kidney disease. (Though it can't be interpreted in a vacuum.)

My serum creatinine:

2008 Feb (before paleo diet) : 0.8 mg/dl (Normal range 0.5 to 1.2 mg/dl for males)
2010 April: 1.1 mg/dl
2010 May: 1.08 mg/dl
2010 June: 1.00 mg/dl

Doctor: "Do you eat a lot of meat?"
Me: "Yes."

Note the quite substantial change between my pre-paleo value from February 2008 and April 2010. (I had a little freak-out there because the lab had entered me as a female which put me out of the normal range both for creatinine and calculated kidney function.)

My interpretation is that paleo put more creatinine in my bloodstream. I'm not sure if it is through the higher protein in the diet as such, or if it is my increased lean body mass.

I think that just as a precaution people may want to take a comprehensive blood panel including kidney function before going on a paleo diet in order to have some comparative measures to refer to, and to make sure that there are no problems up front.

After some literature research, I don't believe that high protein causes kidney problems, but it may perhaps contribute to the exacerbation of existing problems. Better safe than sorry.

Another takeaway from this is that lab values can fluctuate a great deal, and this applies to many parameters assessed by lab tests. If you like me have tests taken on your own, don't go nuts over a single test if it is slightly out of range, particularly if not evaluated by a knowledgeable professional. The trend matters.

(Incidentally, I've discovered that simply worrying over taking a blood test administered in a doctor's office can add upp to 15 points to my fasting blood glucose.)

Strange effects from Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate

I had a really strange phenomenon occurring after around two weeks of supplementing with Natural Calm in May.

I took the standard dose in the evening after dinner, and what would happen was that my urine turned tea colored at the next bathroom visit.

I think that what happened was that the magnesium citrate mixed with something in the Life Extension Mix ("LEM") tablets that I took with my dinner meals. (BTW, I shouldn't really be taking the LEM, since I eat an incredibly nutrient dense paleo diet.)

After staying of magnesium for a few weeks, I added it back but let more time pass between the meal and ingesting the preparation, as well as dropping the LEM. Everything is OK now.

In any case, if you experience something similar, let me know. (I have yet to find a single other instance of this being described on the Internet.)

Quitting Coffee

I've added back a small amount of coffee after a week of complete abstinence. I've yet not experienced any significant side effects, but I'm still on the watch out.

Terra Plana Shoes

I bought a pair of Terra Plana "Vivobarefoot" shoes for casual city/park use.

It's my first experience with barefooting type footwear. In summary, I can say now that I'll never go back to normal shoes again.

I've ordered a pair of RunAmocks too. (HT to Richard Nikoley)

Given the leg cramps I got initially it is quite clear that my lower body muscles and joints are hit in ways that they are not used to, but probably should. Great stuff.


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