Monday, January 31, 2011

Seafood Curry

By Diana Hsieh

A few weeks ago, I made a fantastic impromptu seafood curry. It's similar to the ground beef and butternut squash curry that has become a staple for us. Here's the basic instuctions, but I can imagine all kinds of fantastic variations:

Cook in coconut oil over medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until caramelized:

  • 2 large onions
That will take about 30 minutes, and you'll likely need to add water periodically to prevent the onions from burning, rather than merely browning.
Then add:
  • 1 small (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk, preferably only the solid portion
  • Curry spices to taste, e.g. coriander, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic
Stir to combine. Then add:
  • 1 lb raw shrimp
Cook and stir until cooked through, about five minutes. Then add:
  • 1 lb cooked crab meat
Stir and heat through, then serve!

That recipe made four full meals for us. Oh, and that was the first time that I've ever cooked shrimp. It was super-easy!

Last night, I made a phenomenal beef curry, again using the same basic template. I hope to blog about that next week.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's weekend schedule of blogging on Objectivism on Saturdays and free market politics on Sundays, I like to post some weekly links for people interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

Here are this week's fresh links:

  • 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, go take a peek!
  • My own Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast. Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:
    • Is it moral to have a sugarmomma or sugardaddy? My fiancee and I both have demanding careers, but she earns several times more than I. How should a married couple with very different incomes share income and/or expenses? If we agree to split household expenses evenly, my lower income is a significant constraint on her enjoyment, e.g., she can't buy an expensive house because I can't afford half of it. On the other hand, if we split expenses unevenly or if we treat all income as pooled, it seems that I'm benefiting lavishly from things I didn't produce. Is it moral for me to enjoy an expensive hobby which I couldn't have afforded on my own? I'd love to hear more about how you and Paul manage income and expenses, and especially what ethical principles apply.
    • Can men and women be "just friends"? (This is a follow-up to the discussion on infidelity from January 23rd.) Where is the line crossed from friendship to something more intimate that would be a threat to a committed relationship? Is it fair for me to expect a romantic partner to keep his female friends at a distance?
    • Is it wrong to cheat a partly government funded institution? There are a couple of classes I would enjoy sitting in on at my university. They are large, and I would not be noticed. Would it be wrong to go without paying for them? I wouldn't do this with a private college, nor would I have qualms about a completely government funded school. But colleges are partly privately paid for. Would it be immoral for me to get some of that value without paying?
    • Would it be wrong to steal from a thief? If an individual were placed in a position where they could steal from a con-man or a common burglar, and they did, would their decision to steal from a thief be moral or immoral and why?
    • How are causality and free will compatible? If my mind is an effect of my brain, and my brain is a complex physical system which operates in a deterministic way, doesn't that mean that my thoughts and actions are ultimately determined, too? What is wrong with the popular notions of causality and free will that make them appear incompatible?
    • From Objectivist Answers: Is it wrong to be proud of or obtain your pride from your culture, family and ancestors? Is it correct to have pride in one's culture, family and ancestors? For example in Samoan society a Pe'a is a traditional male Samoan tattoo. According to my friend the pe'a tells him that the wearer has pride in their culture, their family and their ancestors. It is not just a physical marking but an indicator of his/her soul according to him.
    You can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.
For studying Objectivism, I always recommend that people go to the source, i.e. to Ayn Rand's own writings. I'd recommend starting with one of her novels, particularly The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. After that, I recommend her anthologies of philosophy essays, probably starting with The Virtue of Selfishness or Philosophy: Who Needs It. For current commentary on culture and politics from an Objectivist perspective, I heartily recommend perusing The Objective Standard. You can find much of value and interest on the web site of the Ayn Rand Institute too.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Paleo Rodeo #045

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:
Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: Endangered Species' 72% Hazelnut Toffee posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Toffee is intriguing to me, and this bar makes for my first experience. While it has good potential, its current actualization leaves more to be desired."

Beth Mazur presents Gary Taubes & Why We Get Fat posted at Weight Maven, saying, "Taubes does a great job in moving away from calories in vs out, but may not be telling the whole story."

Lindsey presents Nut Granola Bars posted at Enjoying Healthy Foods, saying, "This week I made these delicious Nut bars for my kids. They really enjoyed them, as did I! It is a quick and easy recipe and the final product travels well!!! ENJOY!"

Nell Stephenson presents Paleo Chicken Marbella- Recipe Makeover posted at TrainWithNellie.

Kate Yoak presents Russian pickled cabbage posted at Cave Kitchen, saying, "I would like to give thanks to my mom for sharing this Russian family recipe for pickled cabbage - a yummy alternative to sauerkraut."

Marisa presents Roasted Chicken Leg Quarters - Two Ways! posted at Primal Pearls, saying, "Chicken leg quarters can only be so interesting, but these came pretty good - and it's certainly A LOT of food for very little preparation time!"

Dr. John presents An "Insight of the Decade": Chronic inflammation kills posted at Paleoterran, saying, "Counter it with a hunter-gatherer diet."

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan presents Tangy Goodness: Creamy Italian Dressing posted at The Clothes Make The Girl, saying, "Kicks the butt of a regular vinaigrette but still packs the punch of EVOO."

David Csonka presents When Did Cholesterol First Become Public Health Enemy #1? posted at Naturally Engineered, saying, "It turns out that an experiment performed by some Russian scientists in 1913 started the world down the path of vilifying cholesterol."

Ravi presents Your Paleo-Diet TasteBud Makeover posted at DaiaSolGaia.

Anne presents Buyer Beware - An Example of Stores Being Deceptive posted at Paleo on a Budget.

Benjamin Skipper presents My Leg Cramps Nightmare posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "Leg cramps were a constant in my life, but when I went on the paleo diet the pain turned into something monstrous and impossible to ignore. Here's how I solved them."

Miranda Barzey presents How to Eat Paleo on a Budget posted at Building Atlantis, saying, "Tips and tricks for sticking to a paleo diet when you're strapped for cash."

Patty Strilaeff presents What to do with a pig's head? posted at following my nose....

Primal Commuter presents Primal Fitness, Primal Commuter posted at The Primal Commuter, saying, "Biologically speaking, we are all cavemen! So, we need to work and feed our bodies like cavemen. Therefore, the more consistently we consume macro-nutrients (Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrates) with the pre-agricultural period and the more we exercise our bodies in ways a Paleolithic man would have, the healthier and happier we'll be - in body and mind. We'll feel better, look leaner, think more clearly, sleep deeper, and be, overall, healthier..."

Paul Jaminet presents Low-Protein Leanness, Melanesians, and Hara Hachi Bu posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "Although high-protein diets are satiating in the short term, low protein diets may be better for health in the long run even though they can cause short-term weight increases. Here I discuss how to be lean on a protein-restricted diet."

Daniel Klein presents Episode 14: Meat posted at The Perennial Plate, saying, "This is an episode about a meat processing plant, shows lots of cuts of meat. There are lots of other episodes that might be of interest as well. Including squirrel hunting, fly fishing, deer hunting, pig slaughter..."

Richard Nikoley presents Getting off Proton Pump Inhibitor GERD Meds Cold Turkey posted at Free The Animal, saying, "My 1-2-3 plan for getting off GERD meds in a week."

Kristy A. presents My Zone Challenge Food Log posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "On my second week of a Paleo-Zone challenge, here are my reflections and meals to help enliven your own food choices regardless of whether you weigh and measure."

Ray Sylvester presents Put The Lime In The Coconut (Seriously, It's Delicious) posted at chowza.

Laurie Donaldson presents Shepherd's Pie posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Warm dish for an after-snow-cleanup day!"

Joe Berne presents Do as I say... posted at Karate Conditioning, saying, "A list of mistakes I continue to make in my quest to follow the paleo way; read it if you want to feel superior or get an idea of how to be more critical of yourself!"

M presents Day 26 of Whole30 Eats | Nom Nom Paleo posted at Nom Nom Paleo, saying, "Here's what a typical day near the end of my Whole30 looks like -- with lots of meal planning thown in!"
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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Question of the Week: Hearty Pork

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of avlxyz)


Paleo Question of the Week: What's your favorite way to cook pork for a hearty meal?

We'd love to hear your answer to that question in the comments on this post... or you're welcome to post a comment or question on any other paleo-related topic.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate Review: Dagoba Superfruit (74% Cacao)

By Benjamin Skipper

Acai and goji berries are quite delicious fruits. Acai berries offer a smooth and comforting form of sweetness while goji berries offer a citrusy tartness reminiscent of oranges and cranberries. It is irrelevant to me as to whether or not these are the "super fruits" they're often touted to be; I just think they're delicious and deserve to be widely appreciated. Dagoba's Superfruit bar, then, is a chocolate certainly worthy of my attention.


Now I've already reviewed Beaucoup Berries and would ordinarily take package aesthetics for granted since they're usually consistent throughout a brand's whole line -- the only difference is that this wrapper is purple -- but I have noticed one defect I hadn't before. Irritatingly enough, the inner foil is caught between the flaps of the outer packaging paper, so if you try to just take off the label you'll end up unwrapping the whole chocolate bar anyhow. Given that Dagoba leaves messages inside its wrappers this is annoying, as someone may just want to read the writing inside and might accidentally make the chocolate bar fall out. Whether or not this is intentional is unknown to me, but I hope they remedy it in the future.


The bar itself is not unattractive, but it does lack even the least bit of shine, even worse than Theo. Theo, on the other hand, had at least a very dull glimmer, and this Dagoba variety can hardly reflect a simple light source. It also has a color inconsistency where certain parts of the bar are lighter than other parts, most noticeably on the bottom, and together it works to give this bar an almost chocolately purple hue. The mathematical neatness of the rectangle divisions and fancy font branding on each divisible part makes up for it, however, and still serves to be quite an attractive bar despite these unfavorable shine and color characteristics.


One difficulty I mentioned with the Beaucoup Berries bar is that the rectangles are far too small to break off without causing undesirable fissures, but at the time I thought that maybe I was being too rough and the problem was with my technique. Well, I tried being extra careful with this bar and I still ran into the problem of breaking off irregular pieces despite my wanting clean rectangles. For anyone who likes sharing, eating their chocolate in mathematically measured amounts, or simply likes eating bars in their intended division parts will have a problem, but this won't bother any of those who bite right off the bar, especially considering since this only comes in a single-serving size. As for me, it doesn't bother me too much since I'm eating the whole bar anyways and will cleanly divide the chocolate by sticking my incisors in the division fissures.


The mouthfeel offers the same wonderful contrast I enjoyed in the Beaucoup Berries bar: a softly crumbly sort of crunchy chocolate texture with an inconsistently incorporated gooey-sticky-squishy berry texture whenever you should happen into a fruit. The variety of textures keeps the eating interesting since you can't anticipate the mouthfeel of any bite, so while Dagoba's conching process may deprive their bars of a good shine it certainly leads to a distinguishable and pleasurable mouthfeel.


The flavor profile itself is awesome, but unfortunately it doesn't do true justice to the goji berry. The acai berry is blended in as a powder, so its flavor is present throughout the entirety of the bar whereas the goji berries and currant raisins are integrated inconsistently as pieces of dried fruit. You'll taste the acai the entire time, but not the other two players. The effect the acai has on the chocolate is very subtle and will require your attention to notice, but taking such effort to concentrate will reward you with a taste you might otherwise not experience. Strangely enough, the acai seems to have attributes of other fruits: a hint of blueberries and raisins. Acai berries are quite unique in their flavor profile and hard to describe, but I think this is what comes close to describing it. The attributes here can be clearly distinguished only with exertion of the concentration, and those who take the time will be rewarded with flavors that play well together without necessarily fusing.


The currants and goji, while contributing greatly to the overall mouthfeel, don't do much for the flavor profile. I haven't eaten currants separately before, so I wouldn't know what they taste like, but I could distinguish them from the reddish-orange goji berries and therefore could observe when a currant was in the next bite or not. Most likely is that they contribute to the raisin note, but I don't really know or get a strong impression of anything, so my conclusion is that it merely heightens a flavor note already there and is therefore hard to distinguish on its own. The orange-cranberry tartness is quite noticeable whenever you get one of those goji berries, but it seems strangely absent in this bar. When I decided to keep track, I could only count two goji berries in the whole bar, so I think this goji to currants ratio problem definitely needs to be fixed.


Considering the flavor in total, the acai berry seems to have found a throne in this bar, but the goji and currant fruits still have yet to receive their justice. In comparison to other competitors (Endangered Species uses acai here and goji here, but both varieties are very terrible) this variety is a world above, but I still desire to see each berry to be given their very own bar with no one else to hog the stage, or at least to see acai and goji berries combined with no other flavor players. Such is something I'll keep on my wish list and look for in the market, but for now it seems that this is the best offering.


Ultimately I like this bar -- I like it a lot. Definitely worth both eating and purchasing again, and I bought three the last time I made a purchase on Lucky Vitamin. It enters my "like" list, but not my top favorites and so will not be something I would purchase in bulk, like Endangered Species' mint.


In summary, the bar has a strange color inconsistency and is too hard to break off in exactly the pieces you want, but makes up for it with a very soft, crumbly, crunchy mouthfeel. It has a very pleasantly complex flavor profile that does a great justice for acai berries but not quite so for the goji and currants. Each fruit, I think, is still deserving of its own bar, but I still like this bar enough to want to purchase it again. The only significant improvement I can think to call for is an increase in the amount of goji berries incorporated, as their tartness is noticeable but absent in the majority of bites. I recommend this chocolate.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Leg Cramps Nightmare

By Benjamin Skipper

Legs cramps have always been an ongoing problem for me, right from childhood. It was very seldom, but every now and then a bad movement of my legs would result in my muscles starting to contract very uncomfortably, though it was always easy to remedy with stretching. At the very worst, I was annoyed by the constant nerve twitching in my legs and hips after any taxing physical activity. The cramps may have been with me throughout most of my life, but they were so mild and seldom that they were an insignificant annoyance, one hardly worth acknowledging.

But my, did things change when I went on the paleo diet. It took several months for it to manifest due to my dietary practices, but the cramps morphed into something monstrously painful and brought nearly omnipresent twitching. What was mild discomfort before had transformed into agonizing pain, one that wasn't easy at all to remedy. I kept getting woken up in the morning as if I were on the verge of a cramp, and if I did cramp I would have to immediately get out of bed to stand up since the pain was so intense and my legs virtually paralyzed. In the worst case scenarios my muscles would tighten so fiercely that even my full body weight on my feet plus jogging around the room wouldn't ease the contraction, so the pain had to be endured for what was too long of a time. Getting back to sleep was difficult as well, for the wrong leg movement would start the whole process over again, which was especially difficult to avoid since I sleep on the floor (and thereby was forced to fall on my bottom to lay down). I was also prone to anxiety attacks (and resultant shallow breathing), heart palpitations and pounding, and an irregular heartbeat. The twitching became a horrendous annoyance so irritating that at times I gripped my body just to hold the nerves down. My life still went on alright, but with much reduced satisfaction. It was almost frightening to go to bed knowing what painful state I would wake up to. I tried ignoring it for awhile, but the pain just got worse and worse: It refused to be ignored.

Since these symptoms didn't become so severe until late into my paleo diet venture this all came upon me as a surprise. My twitching and cramps were virtually nonexistent at the start; if anything, I experienced full health. It wasn't until I started experiencing cramps more and more consistently and with increasing intensity that I detected something was wrong.

The answer came to me when I suffered from a chocolate craving. I was breaking into my chocolate stash and trying to retrain myself from consuming too much sugar, but each bite left my craving virtually untouched. When I noticed I enjoyed the darker 90% cocoa variety over the 72% one I had been eating I identified that it was chocolate itself that I craved, not sugar. Apparently this is a classic symptom of a magnesium deficiency. In that context, it makes sense why I didn't start experiencing these cramps until several months into my diet. In the beginning I was at a loss as to what to eat, so my diet became very monotonous and included tons of almond flour, spinach, and some pine nuts. These foodstuffs have an appreciable amount of minerals in them, so my gorging on them probably held my cramps at bay. When I got sick of them and learned to better vary and balance my diet, the mineral deficiency worsened and the nerves couldn't function properly anymore. And so there we have the cramps and twitching.

My understanding as to why the paleo diet might make a mineral deficiency even worse is that it leads to much easier fluid excretion, which flushes out minerals. In Good Calories, Bad Calories I learned that carbohydrates tend to encourage the retention of fluids. That would explain why I didn't experience intense cramps and twitching in my childhood even though my mineral consumption may have been low throughout my entire life. While growing up I lived on a high-sugar Standard American Diet, so whatever little minerals I did consume were being held within my body longer than would be otherwise, resulting in my nerves operating in a non-painful matter, though definitely not optimal. In comes the paleo diet and out goes the fluids.

I tried multiple things to cure this malady, and they all worked to only limited degrees. Sweet potatoes, spinach, coconut juice, pickle juice, canned mackerel, and canned salmon all helped greatly, but sooner or later I found they would fail and my symptoms would come back. Plus, I just got tired consuming these foods so much, especially all that pickle juice. (Well, maybe not the coconut juice.) While these foods are rich in whatever treats cramps, such as the potassium in sweet potatoes or electrolytes in pickle juice, they either only attacked one deficiency factor or only satisfied my needs for a short while. If these foods are so rich in this realm, then why were they still impotent?

I've heard it cited that humans of the paleolithic age consumed between 800 mg and 1600 mg of magnesium per day, and tracking my mineral consumption in a nutrient tracker has shown me this is very hard to accomplish through dietary means. Even on days I went crazy and emphasized my consumption of mineral rich foods I would barely nick the bottom of the 400 mg that serves as the current daily recommended value. And the cramps and twitching were still fierce. What gives?

Well, it seems that irrational agricultural practices has led to the mineral depletion of the soil. Minerals return to earth through things such as urine, feces, and even animal carcasses, and lacking substantially any one of these can easily lead to depletion, which seems to be the case. Paleolithic man certainly didn't have online nutritional tracking, and yet he was still able to find sufficient minerals while I, a modern man, have a hard time finding them even as I have access to nutritional databases and more varied food sources. For me, supplementation is the only answer. I wanted to avoid it for monetary reasons, but again the cramps are just way too painful to ignore.

I've had luck with magnesium supplements in the past, for they did cure my problems before, but for whatever reason a change in my body in between supplementation periods has led to a digestive intolerance, even when taking the same brand names as before. First I tried Solgar's chelated magnesium, and while that went down fine in the past it led to fluid elimination after my body's change. Worse yet, the fluid elimination entailed me losing even more minerals than I had consumed, so my cramps, twitching, and heart difficulties got even worse on the supplement! I was not only wasting my money on the supplement, but also on the foods I was consuming to keep my mineral levels up! Magnesium citrate did the same thing to me, only I think it entailed a burning sensation in my gut as well, furthering my discomfort. Can't get my minerals in healthy enough amounts from food and I can't ingest supplements, so what to do?

Thankfully, I found the solution in Carlson Labs liquid magnesium. It's not chelated or a citrate, but it does have the significant difference of being a liquid inside of a gel cap. To experiment, I tried taking this variety sublingually; that is, I stuck the pills underneath my tongue and allowed them to be dissolved and absorbed through the blood vessels in my tongue. That way the nutrients would go directly into my bloodstream and bypass my digestive system. And so far I must say -- success!

My cramps have disappeared and my twitching has been dramatically reduced, and I have not suffered any digestive effects from the supplement. The pills dissolve very quickly and are easy to store in your mouth, and the taste is that of a pleasantly subtle beeswax. I just have to be careful if I choose to talk while taking my supplement, because then it coats my lips white. Otherwise, it's utterly fantastic and pretty affordable. Right now I take 1600 mg per dose, as I find anything lesser tends to bring the symptoms back.

These cramps were a problem that lasted many months for me, due to my confusion and ineffectual treatments. I tried ignoring it in hopes of saving money on food and supplements, but the pain just got too severe. The dietary remedies I tried only gave off false hope since they worked but temporarily and quickly got boring. When I finally decided upon spending for supplements I then had to deal with stomachaches, fluid elimination, and even further mineral loss. Now that I've found the supplement that works for me calmness has been restored to my life, and I'm glad it's not so expensive after all as well. If you've been suffering from leg cramps while on the paleo diet, then I suggest you try my suggested foods and supplement remedies. Furthermore, if you know of anyone who's considering going paleo, it might be nice to let them know of potential mineral problems so that they may get a jump on it and avoid the excruciating contractions.

It was a painful process for me, but with a happy solution in the end.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Easy Slow Cooker Chuck Roast

By Earl3d

Here's a quick write-up of how I make chuck roast in the slow cooker, presented by special request.

This is one of my favorite fall/winter dishes and I could easily enjoy it weekly without tiring of it. In fact, I'll probably be making this again soon, and will update with pictures at that time.

1. Get about 2-2 1/2 lbs. of chuck roast. It's ok if it is in more than one piece.

2. (optional) In a skillet, over medium heat on the stove, brown both sides. Use a little olive oil, butter, or bacon grease in the skillet. If it is thick enough, try to brown the edges too. Don't worry about over-browning it, but don't let it burn.

3. Cut up about 3 large carrots and the equivalent of 2 smaller or one medium-large yam. I peel the yam first. Put these in the bottom of the slow cooker. You can also throw in some regular potatoes if you are so inclined. Beets work well, too. When I made it with beets, I feared they would do weird things to the broth and turn everything purple, but that wasn't the case at all.

4. Cover the carrots/yams/potatoes/beets in beef broth and add about 1/2 cup of red wine. I am pretty picky about my beef broth. I just discovered that Swansons makes a beef stock, that is pricier than their regular canned beef broth, but has way better ingredients and no MSG. I generally avoid beef broth with MSG or other weirdo ingredients. You could also use water. Another way to go is to get some beef bones and boil them down or cook them overnight in the crock pot, the night before you are going to make the chuck roast, and then just use that broth. The bone broth actually gives the best flavor in the end.

If the liquid goes above the veggies that's ok.

5. Put the meat in on top. Season with oregano, sage, salt, pepper, or whatever you have on hand.

6. Take a package of mushrooms (I believe it is 8 oz.) and either cut them up or buy the pre-cut kind. Saute them in the skillet to get all the yummy crusty bits off from the browning of the meat. You can also cut up an onion and add it in there - 1/4 to 1/2" rings work well. Optionally, the onion could be chopped finer, but it will end up mixing in with the gravy and I like serving the stewed onions as a separate side dish. A little water can be added to the skillet if needed.

7. Add the mushroom/onion mixture to the top of the meat. This will release a lot of liquid (and flavor!) that will percolate down through the meat as it all cooks. If you're in a hurry, just add them raw on top of the meat and skip the simmering on the stove.

8. Another flavoring agent that can be added on top is the leafy inner parts of a celery bunch. Don't chop them up, just add them in as big pieces as you can, and discard them later.

Cook it all on high for 4-5 hours. I usually try to separate the onion/mushroom bits from the root vegetable bits from the gravy and serve it all separately at the table, but you can serve it however you like.

Also, the gravy can be reduced/thickened on the stove also, or served up as-is.

Enjoy!

Cross-posted (with minor edits) from Creatures of Prometheus.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Whole30: What I am Actually Eating

By Kelly Elmore

(Originally posted at Reepicheep's Coracle)

It's super easy to focus on what you can't eat on the Whole30: grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, added sugar, processed foods, and preservatives. Sometimes Aaron focuses on that (he's kind of picky to begin with) until I want to strangle him with one of the spaghetti noodles that I no longer have another use for. But this post is going to be about what you can eat, what I eat, in fact. I'm going to detail for you what I have eaten on my first 3 days on the Whole30 and some other things I usually eat. I find that it is much easier to eat healthily when I focus on the delicious, health-building foods that I love rather than on the delicious, but damaging foods I sometimes miss.

Monday

Lunch at my favorite Brazilian steakhouse, Picanha, to kick off my second Whole30: heaps of rump roast, garlic beef, and top sirloin; a huge spinach salad with pico de gallo and marinated onions, dressed with balsamic vineger and olive oil; and a big glass of water

For supper, I went to Moe's before the Cake concert. I had a bowl of grilled chicken, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, onions, cilantro, jalepenos. More water.

Before I went to bed, I ate a spoonful of coconut butter, which feels like god has personally blessed your tongue.

Tuesday

Before class, I ate a few slices of ham and some coconut butter. I leave EARLY in the morning, so I wasn't all that hungry.

I carried my cooler with me, packed with all my food for my school hours. It included sugar snap peas and guacamole (really excellent made at Whole Foods), chicken stew with onions and tomatoes, a salad of lettuce, red peppers, onions, and tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a sliced up piece of grilled steak, and coconut flakes for snacking.

I drank lots of water and a bottle of kombucha (from the store). I often make my own kombucha, but I am between batches right now. Kombucha is so delicious that I never miss soda at all.

Wednesday

Before I left for work, I ate a large handful of steamed shrimp - Whole Foods will steam and season them for free if you buy the shrimp - and a mouthful of coconut butter (Can you tell I am obsessed with it?).

I took a cooler of food for Livy and me to have at lunch at our homeschool co-op. I ate pepperoni made into little sandwiches with tomato paste, sugar snap peas with guacamole, and half a can of coconut milk. Livy had an orange, some blueberries, ham, sugar snap peas, and guacamole.

When I got home, I had a salad of lettuce, onions, tomatoes, red peppers, and shrimp, dressed with balsamic and olive oil.

Water and one bottle of kombucha today. I may eat something else before I go to bed, but it will probably be shrimp and coconut butter since they are by far the most delicious things in the house right now.

Tonight I am doing a big round of cooking so that I will have lots of freezer foods to take to school. I really like to have a hot lunch. I am making a beef stew with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and carrots; grape tomatoes slow-roasted in bacon grease; and spaghetti sauce with beef, red and green peppers, and onions (I just eat it like Italian chili.) I'll make chili on Friday and roast a chicken. With all those meals in the freezer, I can have a hot, hearty lunch at school and not have to eat out. Plus all those things are super yum, especially the spaghetti sauce. For cooking and eating right away, I bought have some cube steak that I will coat in almond flour and fry in lard; I'll probably top that with some fried onions, as well.

For snacking, besides coconut flakes, coconut butter, and occasional nuts, I eat dried tomatoes (from the Just Tomatoes company), hard boiled eggs, and guacamole. I'm not a big snacker, though. I would usually much rather have a smaller portion of a hot meal.

I hope this list gives you some ideas of the kinds of foods that I think are delicious and paleo/Whole30 friendly. When I plan ahead and spend time in the kitchen (and as long as I have my Brazilian steakhouse for treats), I find that I can eat very satisfying foods and not feel too much deprivation and misery. Aaron, I hope you are listening so that I won't have to strangle you after all. :)

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

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.

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

Also and once again, my Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast. Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:

  • If a person has cheated on his/her spouse, should he/she always tell that spouse afterward? Imagine that a woman cheats on her husband, then regrets doing so, and decides to re-commit herself to the marriage. Should she tell her husband about that infidelity? What if the cheating was a short fling rather than a serious affair? What if the revelation would seriously damage or even destroy the marriage?
  • Is it moral and/or wise to pursue someone else's "significant other"? In particular: (1) Is it immoral to try to pursue or court another person's committed romantic partner? (2) Would a rational person want to be with the person who abandoned an existing relationship to be with with him/her? Also: (3) And if pursuing an already-attached person can be moral, do you have any advice about succeeding?
  • Why are children only an 'optional value'? What does it mean to say that children are an "optional" value? Does that mean that every person should regard them as optional in his/her life -- or something else? Also, given that life is the standard of value and the none of us would exist without reproduction, don't we have a moral obligation to bear and raise the next generation?
  • When is abortion morally right or wrong? Is abortion only proper in "extreme" cases like risk to life or health of the mother, rape or incest, or serious fetal deformity? Is terminating a healthy but unwanted pregnancy morally wrong? Is it an evasion of responsibility for the known consequences of one's actions?
  • Why did you get a PhD? Given your recent comments about the pointlessness of much of modern college education, why did you get a PhD in philosophy? More generally, do you think that a Ph.D can be of value?
  • From Objectivist Answers: In the essay "Racism" in The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand mentions that public institutions and government agencies should not discriminate against or on behalf of individuals. In her talk of private property, however, she says that government should not attempt to prevent private racism in private establishments and that a man’s rights are not violated by a private individual’s refusal to deal with him. My question is: How are his rights not violated if the owner discriminates against him?
Questions that aren't answered this week will remain in the queue for me to answer in upcoming webcasts.

You can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

The Paleo Rodeo #044

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:
Miranda Barzey presents Boozy Fruit Pork Chops posted at Building Atlantis, saying, "A recipe of my own invention using fruit canned in liquor, otherwise known as Boozy Fruit."

Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: Dagoba's 73% Conacado posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Single-origin chocolates are very special, though this one really isn't..."

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan presents Don't Be Lily-Livered! Aromatic Chicken Livers posted at The Clothes Make The Girl, saying, "Chicken livers probably don't top most peoples' list of favorite protein sources, but they can be SO tasty. This recipe is easy to make and give them an Eastern flavor with cloves and cumin."

Lindsey presents Lettuce Tacos posted at Enjoying Healthy Foods, saying, "Replacing family favorite meal nights in a fun challenge that I am enjoying! The latest switch is these delicious lettuce tacos. I hope you enjoy!"

Diana Hsieh presents Paleo Versus Christianity? posted at NoodleFood, saying, "Is eating paleo compatible with Christianity? This atheist gives her view."

Amy Kubal presents Pre-Workout: To Eat or Not to Eat... posted at Fuel As Rx, saying, "The Pre-Workout Meal - do you need it or not??"

Tara Grant presents Intermittent Fasting, Insomnia and Doctors posted at Primal Living, saying, "It's been a while since my last post and this explains why. :)"

mark owen-ward presents is it the end of the cholesterol scam? posted at new habit.

Sara Hatch presents Straight Paleo Update and Budget for the Week posted at Edible.

Dr. John presents Dim lights at dusk for better sleep posted at Paleoterran, saying, "release that melatonin"

M presents Hacking Your Own Sous Vide Machine posted at Nom Nom Paleo, saying, "I know cavemen didn't own sous vide machines but this cavegirl loves to sous vide her meats. Yes, the contraptions can be pricey but here's how to hack your own for cheap!"

Kelly Elmore presents Whole30: What I am Actually Eating posted at Reepicheep's Coracle, saying, "A note about focusing on what you CAN eat and a list of the delicious things I have eaten recently."

Nell Stephenson presents Paleo Yam & Apple Casserole posted at TrainWithNellie.

Adam Farrah presents The NorCal Margarita? posted at PracticalPaleolithic.com, saying, "Video Blog post about a "Paleo Friendly" Margarita."

Kristy A. presents A Dinner in the Zone: Hearty Paleo-Zone Chili on Roasted Portobello Mushroom Caps with Crunchy Slaw posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Here are my recipes to help others on a Paleo-Zone quest find delicious, filling meals easily weighed and measured. Even if you aren't Zoning, this chili is well worth the effort and provides enough for an army!"

Paul Jaminet presents How Does a Cell Avoid Obesity? posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This post provides some scientific background about weight regulation, showing that how a single muscle cell manages its weight can tell us a lot about how the whole body manages weight -- and what mechanisms may be involved in obesity and diabetes."

Josephine Svendblad presents Best and Worst of Nutty Kitchen 2010 posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "Nutty Kitchen best and worst of 2010, see what you liked best and least."

Angelo Coppola presents Welcome Livin La Vida Low Carb Fans! This is What I Eat. posted at This Week in Paleo, saying, "Just a little welcome to Livin' La Vida Low Carb fans visiting the site after my interview went live. UPDATE: Final episode of This Week in Paleo goes up Monday. Joining up with a network and starting a new podcast. Stay tuned!"

Laurie Donaldson presents Something Old, Something New posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "A week of good food..."
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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Question of the Week: Young Coconut

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of swamibu)


Paleo Question of the Week: How often do you eat young coconut? And how do you eat it?

We'd love to hear your answers to those questions in the comments on this post... or you're welcome to post a comment or question on any other paleo-related topic.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Paleo Versus Christianity?

By Diana Hsieh

Many moons ago, Jimmy Moore e-mailed me to ask me my opinion on whether a Christian could follow a paleo low-carb diet. Jimmy is a Christian, but his post included the opinions of many heathens, including me. (That was posted in November, and I'm just really late in posting about it here.) Here's what I wrote in response:

I suppose that I’d say two things:

First, I don’t think that the Bible should be looked to — even by Christians — for dietary advice. That’s clearly not its purpose. It’s not a divine cookbook (except in some few laws). Its claims and metaphors about food reflect the habits of the primitive agricultural societies in and for which it was written.

Second, the Bible contains much worse things than bread-eating, such as stoning blasphemers, demands of death for gays, near-sacrifice of children, drunken incest, genocide, slavery, etc. Those things -- not to mention its basic morality -- strike me as far more important.

Personally, as an Objectivist, I don’t regard the Bible as anything more than canonical ancient literature: it has no moral weight for me. So if the Bible commands bread-eating, so much worse for the Bible.

However, I do understand that Christians have a different perspective. Yet ultimately, they need to decide what will have more weight with them: the hard facts about what makes their lives here on Earth better, and the claims of Scripture. I hope they choose the hard facts. If not, they’ll self-destruct in far more important ways than diet. And that’s a terrible shame.
You can read the other responses, as well as the comments, here: Can A Christian Follow A Paleo Low-Carb Diet?

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

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.

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

Also and once again, my Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast. Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:

  • How does one properly judge a person's actions and ideas? I've read that one can judge a person's ideas as good or evil based on whether they are true or false, respectively. I've also read/heard that it's usually better to judge a person's actions since people often aren't very exact in their ideas and in what they say. Should you judge a persons ideas or actions? Or both? And, what is the proper way to judge a person's ideas and actions?
  • How can I judge people more efficiently? It would be helpful to be more efficient in judging whether certain individuals are appropriate for a friendship. Sometimes it takes me a long time to decide whether I would like to be friends with someone or not. It takes me even longer to decide whether I would like to be in a romantic relationship with someone. How can I speed this process up? What are some key factors that might help me make these types of decisions more efficiently?
  • Why are some people such jerks on the internet? Some seemingly decent people become downright malicious bastards on the internet, particularly when posting anonymously. Why is that? What does such behavior say about a person's moral character? How can a person keep his manners, his benevolence, and his cool in full force when online?
  • Is it always wrong to seek popularity? Because of the character Peter Keating I can't figure out in what context it would be right for an Objectivist to value or desire popularity, if at all.
  • Are tattoos or piercings -- all of them, or just some kinds -- irrational and/or self-destructive? If so, why?
  • From Objectivist Answers: Is it proper to date a girl who smokes pot? This woman, while not being an Objectivist, has many great qualities like being smart, attractive, funny, pro-reason and pro-man in general. She, however, likes to smoke marijuana. She says that it provides a great pleasure and relaxes her body and mind after a long day of work. What should I do about it? Confront her? Immediately break up with her?
You can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

The Paleo Rodeo #043

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:
Kate Yoak presents Simplifying: an almost Paleo diet posted at Cave Kitchen, saying, "Having taken a short break from Paleo and rediscovered the reasons I am here, I am setting a more gentle, easier to achieve Paleo regiment, focusing on the essentials first."

Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: Green & Black's 67% Espresso posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Astounding."

Benjamin Skipper presents Making Your Own Nut Butter posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "I see no good reason for buying nut butter. Making it is not only incredibly cheaper, but is easy and more versatile as well."

Beth Mazur presents Sara Moulton's chicken stock posted at Weight Maven, saying, "If you're paleo, you know the benefit of stock. Here's an easy recipe for those who haven't yet added stock to their repertoire."

Brock Brown presents Caribbean Jerk Marinated Pastured Beef posted at My Paleo Life.

Amy Kubal presents A Whole Lot More "Whole" Grains?? posted at Fuel As Rx, saying, "This can't be a good thing..."

Lindsey presents Beef Jerky posted at Enjoying Healthy Foods, saying, "Beef jerky is a favorite Paleo snack for all the previous reasons, but also because it packs a nutritious protein punch. This recipe is simple and easy!!!"

Marc presents Restaurant Paleo posted at Feel Good Eating, saying, "Cooking at home, restaurant flavors. Let me know what you think."

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan presents Cocoa-Toasted Cauliflower posted at The Clothes Make The Girl, saying, "Nutty and toasty, this cauliflower combines unexpected flavors into easy-to-make roasted goodness."

Nell Stephenson presents New Paleo Auto Immune Plan Posted posted at TrainWithNellie.

Diana Hsieh presents My Latest Thyroid Labs posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "Now that I have my latest thyroid blood values in hand, I've decided to eat an autoimmune elimination diet in February and March."

Laurie Donaldson presents Two Quick Dinners posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "A late start on a 30-day (hopefully, lifetime) paleo/primal challenge, but better late than never!"

Marisa presents Applesauce Pulled Pork posted at Primal Pearls, saying, "This is perhaps the easiest crock pot dish I've made - and easy on the wallet, too!"

Dr. John presents More young adults staying home posted at Paleoterran, saying, ""Why it's good for everyone.""

David Csonka presents The Paleo Diet as a Tool for Dietary Intolerance Testing posted at Naturally Engineered.

Anne presents Finding Time to Cook Paleo posted at Paleo on a Budget.

M presents Money Saving Tips For Paleo Eaters posted at Nom Nom Paleo.

Nicole Markee - Astrogirl presents Carbs or Fat (Choose One) posted at Astrogirl, saying, "Modern hunter-gatherers seem to eat a high-starch diet when there is no meat and a virtually no-starch diet when there's good hunting."

Josephine Svendblad presents Bacon Cauliflower posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "Cauliflower is one of our favorite veggies to eat, not just for its delicious taste, but also for its amazing nutrition."

Robin presents Stone Age Diet Deserves Iron Age Pan posted at Everymom To Ironmom, saying, "Don't cook healthy food on a toxic surface. Throw away the Teflon, here's the benefits and how-to's of cooking with cast iron."

Patty Strilaeff presents Got Eggs? The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg posted at following my nose..., saying, "A freak winter storm left grocery stores with empty shelves here in Atlanta, but we were well stocked with plenty of Paleo foods, including eggs..."

Paul Jaminet presents Homemade Seasoned Seaweed posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "Korean seasoned seaweed is a tasty treat, but in stores it is expensive, hard to find, and often made with unhealthy oils. This is our recipe for making it at home. It's great with rice or by itself!"

Kristy A. presents Entering the Zone posted at Feasting on Fitness, saying, "Back with a Zone-able berry bowl recipe just in time for those starting to reign in the holiday indulgence with a little weighing and measuring. I also link to a local paper that featured my website and gym! Yay for more CrossFit and Paleo press!"

Julie Sullivan Mayfield presents Perfect Meal for a Snow Day: Enchiladas! posted at BTB's Nutrition and Performance Blog, saying, "Atlanta has been dealing with the great ice storm of 2011...which has meant warm, comfort foods were all the rage. Here's my first go at paleo enchiladas. The tortillas are made of coconut flour and egg whites, and I was amazed at how well they held up in the oven. Enjoy!"

Yael Grauer presents Nourishing Roots: Turnips and Parsnips and Beets (Oh My!) posted at Yael Writes, saying, "Yael talks about root vegetables--so nourishing in the winter."
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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Question of the Week: Resolutions for 2011

By Diana Hsieh


(Photo courtesy of buttersweet )


Paleo Question of the Week: What were your health-related resolutions for 2011? How are you doing with them so far?

We'd love to hear your answers to those questions in the comments on this post... or you're welcome to post a comment or question on any other paleo-related topic.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Latest Thyroid Labs

By Diana Hsieh

On December 28, I had another round of thyroid labs done. On that day, here's the report that I made to my doctor:

I wanted to give you another update on my progress. In essence, I'm definitely much improved since October, but I still have clear hypothyroid symptoms. I'd like to increase my dose of desiccated thyroid from 2.0 grains to 2.5 grains.

After our appointment on October 22nd, I increased my dose of desiccated thyroid from 1.25 grains to 1.75 grains. That helped alleviate my hypothyroid symptoms to some extent, but not completely. So I increased to 2.0 grains of desiccated thyroid on November 23rd, as you said I could do. Once again, the result has been improvement, although the symptoms persist.

Here's my current state, in a nutshell. I still have near-daily carpal tunnel pain, although much less than before. My skin is still unusually dry, although better than in October. My last menstrual cycle was much more normal in length--43 days. (It got up to 77 days on 1.25 grains.) I'm definitely not as lethargic as I was, and I'm stronger. Also, I've not had the slightest hint of any hyperthyroid symptoms.

So I'm much better, but I'm still not feeling quite up to normal yet. Hence, I'd like to try increasing my dose of desiccated thyroid from 2.0 grains to 2.5 grains. If you prefer, I can do that gradually, starting at 2.25 then moving to 2.5 grains. But based on my progress so far, I don't think that 2.5 grains will be too much.

As always, thank you for your help.
Here were my lab results from that day, while on 2 grains, my highest dose of desiccated thyroid so far:
  • TSH = 0.059 uIU/mL (normal range .3 to 3.0)
  • FT3 = 3.0 pg/mL (normal range 2.0 to 4.4)
  • FT4 = .96 ng/dL (normal range .82 to 1.77)
  • TPO Ab = 8 IU/mL (normal range 0 to 34)
  • Thyroglobulin = 0.9 ng/mL (normal range 0.5-55.0)
  • Antithyroglobulin Ab = 81 IU/mL (normal range 0 to 40)
Given that my TSH was so low, my doctor declined to raise my dose of desiccated thyroid. We'll do another check of my thyroid values in three months, then see where to go from there. That's okay, I suppose. I'm pretty glad that she didn't ask me to reduce my dose.

I would like to find a way to reduce my thyroid antibodies; as you can see, my Antithyroglobulin Ab is high, even slightly higher than it was in October at 60. In February and March, I'm going to try a strict elimination diet, cutting out all the foods that Robb Wolf suggests are worth eliminating in the case of autoimmune disease. I'm already strict about not eating gluten (or any cereal grains), legumes, or soy. I'm also going to eliminate nightshades (including tomatoes, sadly), nuts (boo hoo!), eggs (gack!), and dairy (ugh, again).

Obviously, my primary concern will be the effect of that elimination diet on my elevated Antithyroglobulin Ab. However, I'm also interested to see whether I see any effects on a persistent quarter-sized spot of eczema that I have on my torso. That might be a useful canary in the coal mine of my immune system.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Your Own Nut Butter

By Benjamin Skipper

[Paleo-Police's Notes: 1) Use nut butters in moderation as most nuts except Macadamias are high in omega 6. 2) Soak to minimize phytic acid and lectins, but I suppose it's better to just not eat a ton. 3) A good reason to indulge in brazil nuts from time to time is their ultra high selenium content. 4) Famous strength coach Charles Poliquin recommends a meat-and-nut breakfast as a way to get some action-oriented neurotransmitters going in the morning. /Christian]

When you think about it, people on the Standard American diet tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to butters. What else do you hear of in the popular media except of peanut butter? Paleo people have almond butter, cashew butter, macadamia butter, and endless more! Sure, people on the SAD could allow themselves to eat these foods, but for people like me they're likely not to know they even exist until they venture outside of their dietary universe. Almond butter has practically always existed, but I never knew it existed until I was 19 years old (now 22).

There is a huge problem with nuts butters however: buying them is a huge rip-off. In stores you have to deal with marked up prices, and online you have to deal with the additional hassle of horrible shipping rates. The prices are so downright unjustifiable that it makes nut butters look like some sort of luxurious indulgence when they really should be more obtainable. Think I'm exaggerating? Let's do some math.

Here's a list that compares some of the best prices I could find for pre-made nut butters against what it would cost to make it yourself with whole nuts or nut pieces. Except for some, I went to Amazon and picked them according to their lowest price organization, and the whole nuts I just picked out casually, so it might be possible to get the whole nuts for even cheaper:

Almond butter:
Pre-made: $6.59 for 12 oz = 55 cents per oz
Homemade: $5.24 for 16 oz = 33 cents per oz = $3.96 for 12 oz

Cashew butter:
Pre-made: $6.59 for 12 oz = 55 cents per oz
Homemade: $5.42 for 12 oz = 45 cents per oz

Pecan butter:
Pre-made: $9.95 for 16 oz = 62 cents per oz
Homemade: $6.67 for 12 oz= 56 cents per oz = $8.96 for 16 oz

Macadamia butter:
Pre-made: $12.95 for 16 oz = 81 cents per oz
Homemade: $7.51 for 12 oz = 63 cents per oz = $10.08 for 16 oz

Macadamia-cashew butter:
Pre-made: $12.95 for 16 oz = 81 cents per oz
Homemade (combines previous figures assuming equal macadamia:cashew ratio): (63 cents per oz * 8) + (45 cents per oz * 8) = $8.64 for 16 oz = 54 cents per oz

Pistachio butter:
Pre-made: $14.95 for 16 oz = 93 cents per oz
Homemade: $6.46 for 12 oz = 54 cents per oz = $8.64 for 16 oz

Walnut butter:
Pre-made: $8.99 for 16 oz = 56 cents per oz
Homemade: $7.26 for 12 oz = 60 cents per oz = $9.60 for 16 oz

Brazil nut butter:
Pre-made: $9.95 for 16 oz = 62 cents per oz
Homemade: $5.26 for 12 oz = 44 cents per oz = $7.04 for 16 oz

Hazelnut butter:
Pre-made: $11.99 for 16 oz = 75 cents per oz
Homemade: $7.95 for 16 oz = 50 cents per oz

I'll give you that making one's own walnut butter may not be cheaper, but all the other prices point overwhelmingly in the other direction. Beyond that, you don't have total control over what goes into a pre-made butter, which may make them less than optimal for your health needs. I could get almond butter very cheaply at my discount store, but it has sugar added and there's no other choice; some choice.

Even better, making your own makes for a whole world of possibility to open up. I doubt they sell such a thing as cinnamon vanilla macadamia-cashew-almond butter, but you could create a batch easily. There are so many variables you could juggle and mix around, far more easily than a company would be able to.

Now you might ask: Is making nut butter hard? Far from it: It's incredibly easy. All you need is a food processor and some jars, maybe some liquid fat, but salt, a frying pan, and a stove would be nice additions too. With a few exceptions, what you're essentially doing is separating the fat from the nut flesh via the processor blade and causing it to integrate back in in such a way that it makes for a creamy texture. With some minor alterations a crunchy texture could easily be achieved as well.

While it is possible to come up with specific recipes for nut butter -- the spices and seasonings need to be portioned and balanced after all -- they all share a basic process. First, before you commit them to the processor, is there something you'd like to do to the nuts to alter their taste? Toasting is a very popular option. To accomplish that, all you need to do is take your shelled nuts and put them in an ungreased frying pan set on medium high heat, stir them every ten seconds or so, and evacuate them once the aroma of the nuts starts to surround the stove. I might be missing some other procedures you could do beforehand, but unless I'm mistaken everything else can be saved for the processing step.

To make the actual butter, all you generally need to do is fill the food processor to capacity with the nuts and allow it to process for about 2-5 minutes until the butter is formed, but there are some exceptions. Since nut butters are dependence on their fat for their texture, some nuts might be inadequate for the job. Cashews, for instance, will only process to the consistency of cashew flour and will not become butter on their own, but nuts such as macadamias are so full of fat that they practically transform into syrup and need to be refrigerated in order to increase its viscosity. For the former nuts, a fatty helper is needed. Option-wise, the sky is the limit, though be careful to give thought as to how the oil might affect the final product. Almond oil in macadamia butter might throw off the flavor of the end product, though whether or not this is favorable is left to each individual. I use light olive oil for my nut butters, as it has absolutely no flavor impact. To incorporate the oil, just drizzle it in very slowly, with intermittent pausing, once the processed nuts have reached the consistency they can achieve to their own extent. There is a slight delay for when you'll know what effect the amount of oil you added will have on the nut butter, so I add extra emphasis on the fact that you must drizzle slowly (about 2 tsp. per pour) and pause for about 5-10 seconds between pours. If you add too much, there's no going back!

Controlling the consistency takes some thought and timing. If you want your butter to be absolutely smooth, then all you have to do is allow the nuts to fully process and add oil if their innate viscosity is unsatisfying. To make a crunchy nut butter, you could do one of two things: 1.) Only add in part of the nuts you want to process and then throw in the leftovers after the butter has been formed, processing until the nuts break up to your desired consistency, or you could 2.) process the nuts for a few seconds until they break up into your desired consistency, withdraw the amount you want in the final butter, process the butter, and then incorporate the leftover pieces by folding or stirring. The first option is intuitive, but the second option could be safer in that you'll know the consistency of the nut pieces you're adding: In the former the nut butter will hide the extent of the processing you're doing.

During processing is also the time to add in spices and seasonings. Unless texture is a concern, such as if you were to add dried berries, just throw them in! With experimentation you'll find out what you like in what portions. Salt is, of course, a popular and intuitive choice, so to give a start in your endeavors I would say that a tsp for every 12 ounce portion is a good point to start for simple flavor intensification, not outright saltiness. You might do well to look up other nut butter recipes to see how others have portioned their spices and seasonings, because, as with the oil above, once you've put it in you're not going to get it back out, and that would be a terrible mistake to make if you made a huge bulk batch of butter.

Now how about a recipe to kindle your endeavor? One of my favorite nuts is the cashew, and I especially like it with some cinnamon.

Smooth Cinnamon Cashew Butter

Prep + cook: 10 -15 minutes
Servings: -
Ingredients:
12 ounces of whole cashews
2 tsp cinnamon (I used one, but think it needs more)
1 tsp of salt
Light olive oil to control viscosity

1.) Set an ungreased frying pan on medium-high heat and toast the cashews, stirring frequently, until they're golden brown and their aroma escapes into the air. Evacuate into cooling area, like a baking sheet.

2.) Pour all the cashews into the food processor, add the salt and cinnamon, and process it until it reaches the consistency of cashew flour, the farthest it will go without additional fat.

3.) Incorporate the olive oil at a rate of 2 tsps per pour and pause for ten seconds to see what affect it has on the consistency. Continue until the desired consistency is reached. At some point the cashews will form a ball that will bounce around the food processor: Don't be alarmed; it'll go away once the fats are more evenly distributed.

4.) Scoop the cashew butter into a storage vessel and refrigerate or enjoy immediately. I enjoy spooning it on 100% cacao baking chocolate.

Nut butter is fantastic and versatile. It's a pity that so many companies charge such unjustifiably high prices, sometimes even over a dollar an ounce. If you make it yourself you can not only save a ton of money, but also give yourself vastly greater options than these companies ever could.


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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Three Recent OpEds

By Paul Hsieh

Three of my OpEds were published recently.

  • On January 4, 2010, PajamasMedia published my OpEd, "Will the GOP Walk the Walk on the Constitution?"

    The theme is that not only should the GOP pay lip service to the Constitution, they must defend in action the principles of individual rights and limited government. Defunding "ObamaCare" would be a good start.

    (Hat tip to Brendan Casey for the quotes from Nancy Pelosi and George Washington.)
  • The January 6, 2011 Washington Times published my latest OpEd, "Best Health Care Political Pull Can Buy".

    The theme is that unless ObamaCare is repealed, it will foster the wrong kind of health care competition -- for political favors, rather than genuine market competition for medical services.
  • The January 7, 2011 RealClearMarkets published my OpEd, "A Defense of High-Frequency Trading".

    That piece was not directly about health care, but rather the critical economic infrastructure that makes health care innovation possible -- namely, efficient capital markets. I contrast the recent reporting in Wired vs. the New York Times on "flash trading" (high speed computer stock trading), and rebut three fallacious concerns raised by the NYT -- its supposed "unfairness", the loss of human control, and the difficulties it creates for government regulators.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Objectivist Roundup & Rationally Selfish Webcast

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

Also and once again, my Rationally Selfish Webcast -- where I answer questions on practical ethics and living well -- will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. You can submit and vote on questions, as well as watch the live webcast and join the chat, from this page: Rationally Selfish Webcast.Here are the questions that I'll answer this week:

  • Why do you think most women typically have disdain for men who are 'too nice'?
  • If a husband cheated on his wife, and she never knew about it, he never got anyone pregnant, and he never got any STDs, would she be harmed? If so, how?
  • Is lying to protect one's own privacy moral or not? Many people regard lies to protect their own privacy as justifiable, even necessary. For example, a woman might tell her co-workers that she's not seeing anyone, even though she's dating the boss. She might tell those co-workers that she didn't get a hefty end-of-year bonus, even though she did. She might tell a nosy acquaintance that she didn't want children, rather than reveal her struggles with infertility. Is that wrong -- or unwise? How could the woman protect her privacy in those circumstances without lying?
  • How can Diana and Greg 'co-exist' with their difference regarding the question of personhood at/before birth, as seen in the December 19th webcast? I ask this especially in light of the discussion in the December 28th webcast of reality being binary. One of you is wrong on the personhood issue and the issue is so fundamental, I could never tolerate a dispute at this level with a close friend.
  • How should we act towards others with poor conceptual habits? How should one act towards others who consistently refuse to use some concepts properly? For example, those who call margarine "butter" despite the drastic difference in their chemical makeup.
  • From Objectivist Answers: Is there a proper policy on keeping lost property? If one were to find property that had been lost, is there a proper policy which would allow the finder to keep it? The most common example is finding an envelope full of money. Is one even morally obligated to report that he has found it? (Suppose that the owner cannot be immediately located, even with a decent amount of effort.)
You can listen to these webcasts later as NoodleCast podcasts by subscribing in iTunes to either the enhanced M4A format or the standard MP3 format.

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