Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chocolate Review: Vivani's 70% Orange

By Benjamin Skipper

When I originally went up to Texas to perform a stage, before I actually moved here, I thought I'd treat myself to some chocolate since my food bill was so low, as I did an awful lot of fasting. The Whole Foods I went to practically paralyzed my mind with the incredible amount of choices they had. The on-shelf options I had in Michigan paled in comparison to what I witnessed there, and with a limited budget it was beyond difficult to decide which would be the chosen few. I probably stood there for about twenty minutes, taking things in and out of my basket, and finally forced myself to walk away. One of those lucky few chocolates happened to be Vivani 70% cocoa orange, as I'm a particular fan of chocolate infused with this essence.

I dislike the packaging greatly, as on the cover is a portrait of "modern" artwork that displays smears on a canvas. Aside from not being proper artwork given the defiance of artistic method, the cover comes off as recessive and easy to look over since the smears are random nothingness. I probably only saw it because I was searching through the chocolate selections so meticulously. Any customer briefly glancing at the selection could easily glance over this one. I do hope Vivani changes it; why not an artist's rendition of oranges?

It'd be a shame if this bar gets passed over due to its artwork, as it's really good. The bar aesthetics are a little poor since the squares are decorated with a boring cross lined pattern, where lines at opposite angles converge to form a corner (a continuation of the modernism theme?); the shine is mild but glossy enough, and the back is covered with smears and shattered chocolate debris. The snap is audible but more like a moderately quiet click, and the inward gradient has outwardly jagged points. All is made up for with the rest of the treat. It has a tempting scent of milk and spices with an orange zest undertone, and the taste experience starts with a strong sweetened cocoa note that unfolds steadily into a combined cocoa-citrus middle and finishes very citrusy, all parts of equal intensity. This to me represents an extremely good balance, as the chocolate and orange take turns being experienced while at the same time being tasted together in the middle transitional phase. It's simple, but good. I also like the thickness of the bar, as it makes for a great mouthfeel, every bite firm yet soft and melting rapidly into an enjoyably thick paste. The pleasure of a viscous melt is just something you can't get with large chocolate bars formed thin.

I think I like this orange variety best over both Theo and Endangered Species' own offering. Theo has good balance while the Endangered Species one has a good citrus intensity, but I see Vivani as superior in its balance and intensity to both competitors combined, so I'd consider this my favorite orange infused chocolate. Additionally, as further competition to Theo's soy-free nutritional contents Vivani is also soy-free in its ingredients, except for the possibility of trace amounts being incorporated from the chocolate being made on the same equipment as soy.

I'm glad to have found a new favorite like this, though, like I said in my Hachez review, I am still open to a more intense experience, so I shall continue tasting orange infused chocolate even as I do have defined favorites; you can never have too many food values. (And wouldn't you know it, Hachez does make an orange variety.) At the present, Vivani has made me content with its offering, so I give it my definite thumbs up.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sleeping On the Floor

By Benjamin Skipper

Ever since beginning to sleep on the floor I have enjoyed the most consistent trend of being comfortable in "bed" in my life. Tossing and turning is long a memory, and I wake up without any discomfort in my back or neck. Some people seem to think it's strange I've leaped and adjusted into the practice so quickly, too afraid to try it themselves, but the truth is I haven't always enjoyed sleeping on the floor. There's actually a separate period in my life in which I had to sleep on the floor and found it insufferable night after night, gladly taking to a bed when I finally got one, so it's been confusing as to why I enjoy sleeping on the floor now in contrast to then.

This rather detailed article argues persuasively on why humans are meant sleep on extremely firm, nearly rock-hard surfaces, and also goes a ways in explaining why people may feel discomfort in trying to sleep on a hard surface. Succinctly, depending on the structure of your body as determined by your lifestyle will determine how you respond to a particular surface, and an unhealthy structure may be the cause of discomfort when trying to sleep on a hard surface since the body tries to adjust one way there while one's everyday posture makes it adjust otherwise. People, then, might be only evaluating negatively the transitional phase in adjusting to sleeping on the floor, and give up on the practice before they have adapted or otherwise keep their body in a state of flux by constantly changing posture.

In my own life I think this points out the essential changes I've made to my life that makes sleeping on the floor wonderful whereas it was unacceptable in the past. Nowadays much of my waking life is spent standing up. While trying to conduct my studies one day I was enormously frustrated with how bad my neck felt and how restless my legs were, as I was sitting down, and then spontaneously set up boxes in the laundry room to make a stand-up desk. It took weeks to adjust to -- my feet and legs hurt often in adapting -- but it's been consistently great since then. The posture of my standing up was so comfortable that I rarely sat down from then on and even converted my computer area to a stand-up desk. Combined with standing up my entire shifts at work (I work in a restaurant), I virtually don't sit down anymore except for meals and reading.

Once I began changing my life into that of one primarily standing up I noticed my bed became increasingly uncomfortable. My neck, most of all, felt atrocious, as I wanted it to align with my back, but my heavier torso sunk into the mattress while my head was elevated, so not even ditching pillows helped any. Sleeping on my side made me feel like everything was out of whack too. Given my bad experiences with the floor in the past I was hesitant to try it again, but one aggravating night pushed me to try it once more. I slept wonderfully: Without pillows my body felt in harmony when laying flat down, and on my side I found I only need my arm or hand underneath my head for everything to feel perfect. I've never enjoyed sleeping on anything less than a hard surface since then.

I think that in choosing to stand up I've altered my body into a state that it holds comfortably when laying on a hard surface, which a soft surface disrupts. The floor was probably uncomfortable before because I was sitting down all the time with my reading and studying, so my body had adapted into a certain structure consequently and felt the pain of trying to adjust to another when sleeping on the floor. The bed probably only catered to my bad posture, which is probably why it was comfortable back then, only becoming uncomfortable when I started standing up. Finally, I never adjusted to sleeping on the floor back then probably because I was undoing all the transitional work my body was doing by switching from bad sitting posture to laying on a hard surface, so my body was always experiencing the discomfort of trying to adjust one way and then another.

I theorize that my comfort in sleeping on the floor has to do with daily posture because there was positively no transition period the second time I took to it. I just hopped out of the bed, laid some blankets on the floor, and felt comfortable since then. The transition pain was felt in the form of my standing up, where my feet, hips, and lower back hurt for about two weeks in trying to get used to it, but now have strengthened to the point that I can stand up literally all day without discomfort. Once my body adapted to my standing posture, there was nothing to change in laying on the floor and therefore no pain.

What I do is simple too, involving only one blanket. I take the blanket I sleep with, fold it in half, and then just sleep on the floor on top of it. If I get cold, then I crawl into the folds like filling in a taco. The only reason I need the blanket is to protect my skin from the scruffy carpet, because otherwise I'd need nothing at all. In the future I'd like to get one of those platform beds mentioned in the linked article, the one that slightly elevates you above the floor and has spaces in between the boards for temperature regulation, handy for Texas heat.

If you're having trouble sleeping and are perhaps interested in trying a rock-hard surface, then consider examining your lifestyle. Are you doing a lot of sitting that could result in posture conflicts between your wakeful and sleeping life? If so, then consider either trying to incorporate proper posture into your daily life, doing a whole lot more standing, or both. That should make your body perform the necessary adjustments that would make laying on a hard surface comfortable, rather than as roughing it as some people may view it.

Aside from the benefits noted in the linked article, the primary appeal I see in this practice is the consistency of the comfort. Mattresses can wear out and have notable pressure differences from day to day, which can make finding a comfortable sleeping position a gamble, whereas a hard surface is perpetually the same, making for great sleep, once adjusted, night after night after night. Plus, you'd never have to buy another bed again. What's to lose, except the comfort during a brief adjustment phase? I've been sleeping on the floor for over a year now, and cannot imagine it being comfortable any other way.

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Vegan Power?

By Diana Hsieh

A paleo-eating friend of mine was recently in England, and she found this sign, happily corrected for accuracy:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Amen to Aquinas's "Interior Principle"

By Christian Wernstedt

[My paleo journey, which I begun in 2008, didn't only change my health for the better, but also how I was thinking about health and the human body. In 2010, I formed a company to put these ideas into practice. This is a piece that I wrote recently for the blog of my health education- and consultancy company, VitalObjectives. /CW]

One of the realizations that inspired me to start VitalObjectives is that the fundamental problem with mainstream health science and practice is not that people who take their flawed advice tend to fail in the pursuit of lifelong health. A failure that presents the "choice" between a too early death by something like a heart attack, or spending decades in diapers during what should be healthy, vibrant years at the final one third of the natural human lifespan.

These very common outcomes are tragic, and my goal is to avoid this fate myself and to help as many people as possible to do the same.

However, the root of the problem goes much deeper than any specific flawed belief, practice or habit that can be countered by the advocacy of a better diet (such as a species appropriate template like the paleo diet), a better way to exercise, or a better way to reduce stress.

The root of the problem with health today is about flawed philosophical beliefs about what the human body is; how it works; and how one should in principle approach the task of installing health.

Medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas offered the following pearl of health wisdom, which is as relevant today as it was in the 13th Century:

Health, is caused in a sick man, sometimes by an exterior principle, namely, by the medical art; sometimes by an interior principle, as when a man is healed by the force of nature. . . . Just as nature heals a man by alteration, digestion, rejection of the matter that caused the sickness, so does [medical] art. . . . The exterior principle, art, acts not as a primary agent, but as helping the primary agent, which is the interior principle, and by furnishing it with instruments and assistance, of which the interior principle makes use in producing the effect.

Thus the physician strengthens nature, and employs food and medicine, of which nature makes use for the intended end.

Amen to that!

Helping the "interior principle"; in other words helping your body do its job, is precisely what a proper, practical, scientific, and highly effective approach to health is all about.

Furthermore, do not buy into the idea that your genes are defective, or that your body for some unfathomable reason is one that nature and evolution forgot to give the blueprint for vibrant health.

Aquinas believed that God made the body perfect; however no such faith is necessary.

If you have survived for so long as to be able to read this, your body, regardless of whatever health issues that you face today, can be assumed to be an excellent specimen with a strong capacity for life and health. Your body is innocent until proven guilty.

The basic error of most of what passes for health advice today is based on precisely the opposite idea — the idea that our bodies all come with inborn deficiencies: sleeping pill deficiencies, acne cream deficiencies, statin drug deficiencies, appetite control deficiencies, anti-inflammatory drug deficiencies, etc; and that staying healthy is all about fighting the human body's inherent flaws (flaws that somehow have multiplied over the past decades) and of suppressing the body's programmed responses.

[Editor's note: You may have noticed that most pharmaceutical drugs are described as "inhibitors" or "suppressors" — philosophically astute readers may want to call it the Augustinian approach to health, or the-hatred-of-the-body approach.]

I say, with Tomas Aquinas (although he may have phrased it differently): To hell with this tripe!

The proper path to health consists of working with your body, not against it.

The general principle for doing this is simple: Give your body the nourishment that it needs, and find and eliminate stressors that harm or hinder it.

You will be surprised by how practicing this principle across decades will build robust health from the ground up.

Disease and health can not occupy the same space at the same time. When you work alongside your body to install health, disease, dysfunction and premature aging simply have nowhere to go but away.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate Review: Hachez's 77% Blackberry

By Benjamin Skipper

This is a tasting I've been waiting months to do. Hachez has piqued my interest ever since it entered my field of awareness, and their products I'm most intrigued in. Not only do they offer some fruit combinations I've hardly seen elsewhere, such as strawberry and mango-chili, they also offer them at appreciably higher cacao percentages than other companies are usually willing to go. This is something I've really been wanting to see for a long time, because par the norm I usually never see infused chocolates go above 73% cacao, and yet here Hachez is at 77%. To keep a wide variety of reviews of different chocolate types on this blog I've been uncomfortably letting this brand sit in my stash, but finally it is time for Hachez 77% cacao blackberry to have its justice.

I'm not as impressed as I thought I'd be, but nonetheless I am pleased. The first thing that struck me about this bar is how powerfully aromatic it is. As soon as I opened the wrapper the air was hit with the scent of fruit juices and blackberries, like a delicious perfume, probably the strongest smelling chocolate I've ever had. Its flavor is pleasingly berry-like and sweet, and the chocolate is very intense and dark, lacking any distinct sweetness of its own. Points are to be deducted, however, for the mouthfeel, for it's quite hard to bite off of, is overly crunchy, and has a very stubbornly slow and lumpy melt. It almost comes off as dry in a way too, as if it were transforming into some other substance rather than becoming a smooth paste.

The bar itself is divided into roughly 2/3 of an inch squares (both dimensions), about the size you'd see a common boxed candy to be, and on each square is the Hachez brand to be printed in what I believe to be the Arial font. Boring, but acceptable aesthetics nonetheless. What's strange is the the brand is printed vertically, encouraging you to hold the bar horizontally, which I find rather odd. It lacks shine and has a lumpy and streaked bottom, but the snap is excellent and the inward gradient very smooth, the blackberries so dark they're nearly impossible to see.

Another thing I'd like to mention is the packaging. The cover is vibrant with its bright berries lingering about the chocolate, and the whole cardboard sleeve feels admirably sturdy enough to protect the confection from harm. And while the bar may be bland looking, the foil it's encased in is very sharp with its bright silver tone and chrome-colored Hachez name decorations. I don't know why, but I have a thing about foil; it makes me look more forward to the chocolate, much like how Green & Black's uses gorgeous gold foil to give off the sense of fortune. What I like most is that the foil is easy to unfold, making entirely unnecessary any sort of ripping. For those of you who don't eat whole bars in one sitting this will be much easier to work with.

Given the hype I've put forth in my own mind I have to say it isn't all I hoped it to be, but I still came out satisfied. It may have a bad mouthfeel, but its aromatics are wonderful and the flavors of strong chocolate and berries permeate the entire experience deliciously. The level of darkness did nothing to undermine the sweetness of the fruit, so I still remain entirely hoping of further infused chocolates with higher cacao percentages like Hachez. For now, I am pleased by my first tasting of this company and can recommend this variety, and will be looking forward to further products.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hsieh TownHall OpEd: Central Planner Fallacy in Health Care

By Paul Hsieh

The 6/20/2011 TownHall.com has published my latest OpEd, "A Doctor Exposes Obama's Health Care Fallacy".

My theme is that Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) represent the latest incarnation of the failed "central planner fallacy" as applied to American health care. Here is the opening:

Suppose President Obama proposed reviving the faltering American economy by creating a federal "Department of Technology" to encourage Silicon Valley technology companies to merge into large consortiums. Bureaucrats would then tell these companies what products they should produce and sell.

Most Americans would consider that approach ridiculous. They know that innovations such as iPads and smartphones were created by entrepreneurs competing in a free market, not by government central planners. Yet the Obama administration is committing the same error by pushing doctors and hospitals into government-supervised "Accountable Care Organizations"...
(Read the full text of "A Doctor Exposes Obama's Health Care Fallacy".)

Thanks to Dr. Hal Scherz and to Dan Rene of Docs4PatientCare for helping to arrange this!

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Objectivist Links

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 fresh links related to Objectivism from around the web for anyone interested in learning more about the philosophy.

The Objectivist Roundup is a weekly blog carnival for Objectivists. Contributors must be Objectivists, but posts on any topic are welcome, including posts on food and health. Parenting Is... hosted this week's Objectivist Roundup. If you're interested in seeing the latest and best from Objectivist bloggers, go take a look!

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.

Normally, I answer six questions chosen in advance, but this week, I'm scheduled to answer just four questions -- on morality and living well, the risk of guns with kids, tact versus honesty, and staying in an abusive marriage for the kids. Then, if we have more time, I'll have Greg throw me some questions without any preparation on my part whatsoever. That should be exciting!

If you're unable to attend the live webcast, 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.

The Objective Standard just published its its latest issue. For free, you can read this fascinating article: Interview with Reza Kahlili, an Ex-CIA Spy Embedded in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Also available for free is Craig Biddle's article, The Government's Assault on Private-Sector Colleges and Universities.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

The Paleo Rodeo #066

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: Lindt's 70% Cocoa Almond Brittle posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Lindt's brand new offering in the Excellence lineup. Is it truly excellent?"

Tony Federico presents Big Fat Lies posted at FED - Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction, saying, "It's time to stop pretending like dietary fat is the problem."

Tony Federico presents Oh the Pemmican Can posted at FED - Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction, saying, "Pemmican is the original super-food energy bar. Learn how you can make it at home from Dave "Daveman" Parsons, a truly Paleo personality!"

Tony Federico presents Take Back Your Plate! posted at FED - Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction, saying, "Tired of the USDA telling you what to eat? This July 4th, we're declaring "Food Independence Day" with a paleo community montage of your best "paleo plates"!"

Dr. John presents Becoming Paleo, Part 2: The Anxiety Barrier posted at Paleoterran, saying, "John Michael on taking control of his eating habits."

Kris presents What is an antioxidant? posted at Kris Health Blog, saying, "A detailed explanation of what is an antioxidant, using understandable terms without getting too technical, with pictures and diagrams."

Meghan Little presents Pork Tenderloin posted at Paleo Effect, saying, "This juicy Pork Tenderloin is a real fail-safe...and it goes great with our Hawaiian BBQ Sauce! Make your friends convert to paleo with this and other recipes from www.paleoeffect.com!"

Tara Grant presents Enhanced Water You'll Want to Drink posted at Primal Living, saying, "A simple recipe for a refreshing Paleo drink that takes seconds to make."

Rafael presents My Paleo Primal Sunday Feast posted at Optimal Health Source.

Amy Kubal presents A Mayo Jar & Two NorCal Margaritas... posted at Fuel As Rx, saying, "Remembering what's important - or "Have you hugged your golf balls today?""

Lauren presents Thai Eggplant posted at Raspberry & Coconut, saying, "I've successfully recreated one of my favorite dishes at my favorite restaurants. Now I can order something else!"

Ryan presents We Did It! 100 Days Without Caffeine posted at The Urban Cave - Chicago, saying, "Surviving 100 days without coffee, why go back?"

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan presents Chinese Pork Fried F?rice posted at theclothesmakethegirl, saying, "Sometimes I really miss Chinese takeout -- but not the hangover from MSG, rice, soy, flour, cornstarch, and sugar. So I made a totally unauthentic, but 100% tasty Pork Fried Rice with cauliflower rice and coconut aminos."

Todd Dosenberry presents It's Not Your Fault You're Fat posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "Are you fat? It's not your fault. Seriously."

Nell Stephenson presents The Sheer JOY of MOVING, (Which, By the Way, IS Rather Paleo...) posted at TrainWithNellie.

Julie Sullivan Mayfield presents Share your paleo success and be entered to win a Le Creuset skillet! posted at Paleo Comfort Foods, saying, "In appreciation for all the support from the paleo community concerning our cookbook, we wanted to do something to say "thanks!" So come on over, share your paleo success story, or share our info on your blog or Facebook, and we'll enter you into a random drawing to win a fabulous Le Creuset skillet! Contest ends this Friday, June 22!"

Julia Campbell presents shaved summer squash salad posted at the crankin' kitchen!, saying, "Simple and delicious summer salad of shaved summer squash, crisp greens, and a lemon, garlic, and olive oil dressing."

Yael Grauer presents Finding Balance In A Post-Strict Paleo World posted at Yael Writes, saying, "What do you do when you fall FAR off the wagon? How do you get off the rollercoaster?"

Primal Kitchen's Family Grokumentarian presents Affording Yourself 30 Extra Pounds of Grass-Fed Ground Beef, the Easy Way posted at Primal Kitchen: A Family Grokumentary, saying, "I am the first to admit that our household doesn't eat all pastured animal products; in fact the vast majority of our meat is still conventionally produced. I could spend a lot of time writing up excuses about this, but I think that my time is put to better use by instead devising ways to carve out chunks of our budget that make room to eat pastured animal products more often."

Laurie Donaldson presents Are Raspberries Primal? posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Are raspberries primal? I think so."

George Henley presents Paleo Staples - Caveman Skillet posted at Rolf Devinci Cycling.

Angelo Coppola presents Breastfeeding: Advice from a Recovered Boob Nazi posted at Latest in Paleo, saying, "Must-read article for anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. Stacy from http://www.PaleoParents.com is the author of this wonderful story."

Megh presents My road trip food list posted at Yolks, Kefir, and Gristle, saying, "Another GAPS/Paleo road trip post!"

Megh presents Pork Heaven (Rotisserie-roasted Pork Shoulder) posted at Yolks, Kefir, and Gristle, saying, "It's amazing what a few simple, high-quality ingredients can make -- this was pure deliciousness!!"

Ute presents Snacking fun posted at Such Lovely Freckles.

Dustin Sharp presents Say it One More Time: The Paleo Diet Isn't Necessarily a Low-carb Diet posted at Paleo Vélo, saying, "The tricky thing for those who want to follow a list of rules, the halal and haaram of Paleo eating, is that there is a wide range of diets that have kept traditional populations healthy."

Beth Mazur presents Why BBS? posted at Weight Maven, saying, "Like our fearless rodeo leader, I too have taken up Body By Science -- for health and for weight loss."

Logan Marshall presents Wild Training: The Persistence Hunt Workout posted at Wild Movement.

Crystal Meadows presents To Thine Own Self Be Kind! posted at Against the Grain.

Kara presents Primal Ranch Dip posted at The Primal Home, saying, "Primal/paleo homemade ranch dip/dressing"

Megan presents Best Breakfast Template posted at Defined Wellness, saying, "Find out what you should eat for breakfast and why!"

Stacy Toth presents Breastfeeding: Advice from a Recovered Boob Nazi posted at Paleo Parents, saying, "Our breastfeeding journey and how it ties into the paleo lifestyle."

Stacy Toth presents Whole 30: Week 1 in the Life posted at Paleo Parents, saying, "One week of eating Whole 30 style"

Jeanna presents ?What do I want to do with my life?? posted at Paleo Adventure, saying, "A post on how eating paleo helped me realize what I want to do with my life!"

Karen Phelps presents Here?s What I Think of Your Meatless Mondays posted at The Paleo Periodical, saying, "Aspen, CO goes too far with their Meatless Monday campaign."

Lindsey presents Thai Noodles posted at Enjoying Healthy Foods, saying, "A delicious side dish perfect for summer!"

Paul Jaminet presents Blood Lipids and Infectious Disease, Part I posted at Perfect Health Diet, saying, "This post discusses how mortality and disease incidence depend on serum cholesterol; it's introducing a series on the immune functions of LDL."

Havard presents How to fall asleep without medication posted at Courageous Mind, saying, "Sleep is important, but sometimes it can be hard to come by. This post discusses some techniques I use to fall asleep easily without using medication."
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! This blog carnival has plenty of room to grow! So 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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Paleo Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete

By Tammy

Someone recently asked,

My boss and I got her to go paleo after reading Taubes' books. She training for a 120 mile bike race at high elevation (10,000 ft and above) and she's wondering how that's going to work into the paleo lifestyle. She usually loaded up on carbs before a big ride. Is that still what she should do now? She has several 50 mile rides planned before the big event, so she's willing to experiment with different things.
This is a great question! I am an endurance runner and have been eating paleo for a couple of years now. Nutrition while running was something I needed to tackle early on when I switched from the SAD to eating low carb, then to paleo. Traditional endurance-athlete foods never really sat well in my stomach (Gu, Power Bar, Hammer, etc), and I was making do with consuming granola bars and sometimes cliff bars which I digested better while running. Or, I would not eat at all (very bad idea).

Based on my experience with endurance events since switching to the paleo diet, I do not recommend the traditional 'carb load' the night before an event (or even long training run/ride). Including some healthy starchy carbs (potato, maybe polished white rice, etc) iwth your meal the night before is great to make sure your glycogen stores aren't depleted before you start the next day, but 'loading' with the big traditional pasta dinner, or carb-only meal seems unnecessary and likely harmful.

For races, my goal is to keep my glycogen stores from getting completely depleted, to consume enough salt, and to get enough fat, protein, and potassium to keep me going. I've invested way too much time in training to bonk on race day due to poor nutrition. Since I don't do the commercial endurance foods, I worked with my geeky husband Greg to come up with a good mix for me and my needs. Based on my goals and caloric needs (approx 250-300 calories/hour), we came up with the Perkins Goo (per hour) which is: 1TB almond butter, 10 grams' worth of a scoop of protein powder, 1TB glucose syrup (Karo), some salt, and some water to make it your preferred texture. Mixing in some banana in is good (flavor and a little fructose for liver stores), but on a bike it may be easier to drink the goo and just eat some banana. When I premixed my goo for a 12 hour on June 4th, I mixed a big batch based on what I needed for 12 hours, then added enough water so that I could easily judge how much I needed to consume each hour, which ended up being 1/3 cup.

A really big lesson I was reminded of firsthand at an endurance event back in March was how important it is to stay ahead of dehydration and glycogen depletion curves on longer events (you can get away with all sorts of goofiness if it is less than 2-3 hours, but you can seriously hurt yourself if you aren't careful in events longer than 4-5). At that event, I just wasn't feeling good so I was skipping my goo and not drinking enough water -- and half-way through the race I was dehydrated and couldn't catch up. I had to stop running completely after only 9 hours because of severe leg pain (diffuse, on every footfall, even when walking). In contrast, the June 4th race, another 12 hour trail run (w/ total of 54 miles), I diligently drank water and ate my goo every hour and I didn't have any troubles.

The Paleo Diet for Athletes is a great resource for endurance athletes (though I am more limiting in my carb intake than is recommended in the book). I used it to better understand my needs in endurance events, and the dangers of not meeting those needs, to design a lot of the above. The rest was basically trying things out to see what would let me perform my best.

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Question of the Week: Paleo Backpacking

By Diana Hsieh

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This week's "Paleo Question of the Week" was e-mailed to me privately by Kirk, and I thought I should post it here:
I am taking my brother into the Tetons in August, and he recently began the paleo diet. Knowing that you like to enjoy the outdoors, I am wondering if you have some good recommendations for any particular brands or specific meals for him so that he isn't trying to live on jerky for five days. I have seen some dehydrated packs that are gluten free, but I'm guessing that this is something you have had to research. I would really appreciate any insight you might have on this, and I thank you for your time.
We want to hear your answer in the comments! You're also welcome to post a comment or question on any other paleo-related topic.

If you'd like to submit a question for an upcoming week or vote on questions submitted by others, go check out the Google Moderator session.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

jamaican jerk chicken

By Julie

Have I talked about how much I like summer food? It's hard to tell if I get equally excited about all seasonal foods at the start of each season (I'm fairly positive I do), but I feel extra excited about grilling vegetables and charring delightfully marinated meats right now. And who better to tell me what to eat in the summer than Jamaicans? If this dish is any indication, they certainly know their stuff.


The seasoning has lots of depth and could almost be considered winter-y, but is lightened by spicy habanero peppers and lime. Coupled with the fact that it's essential to grill the chicken, and no other method will do, it's almost by definition a summer food. Oh, and you should certainly serve it with a tropical fruit salsa - one with mango, papaya, pineapple, or all of the above. I also made kale with lots of lime juice on it. So perfect. And really good for lunch the next day. And breakfast. Next time I'm going to make double the amount of chicken... and hopefully not eat double at each meal.

This marinade would also go excellent with pork, so if you have some pork in the fridge that you're looking to grill, might I strongly suggest (forcefully insist) you make this recipe? I found some variations on jerk seasoning that included ginger root. I think I could go either way on it. If you're a big fan of ginger, then definitely include some - about an inch square little nubby. I also saw shallots instead of the onion. It's certainly not a science, and you can taste and adjust any of the ingredients before you put it on the chicken. If you're nervous about the habaneros, start small and increase if you want. I used three, and it wasn't overwhelmingly spicy by any means.

jerk chicken
adapted from Gourmet, serves 4-5

marinade
3 scallions, chopped
4 large garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped
3 fresh habanero chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

chicken
2 1/2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks (or whichever chicken parts you'd like)

1. In a large Ziplock bag, add chicken and marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal. Squish around to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 day, turning the bag over once or twice.

2. When you're about ready to cook, take the chicken out and let it sit for about 1 hour.

3. Preheat grill on high, then turn heat down to moderate. Cook chicken for about, 15 to 20 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Occasionally brush any leftover marinade on chicken as you cook.

4. Turn heat down to low and cook, covered, for about 25 minutes more.

Serve the chicken with a tropical fruit salsa, citrus kale, fried plantains, or whatever else you think might sound nice!

This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

baby back ribs + cherry cabbage slaw

By Julie

The rain stopped! Quick, time to grill! Really, it seemed that desperate. Even though it was warm over the weekend, it still kept threatening rain. And as we were putting the final brush of marinade on the ribs the wind starting picking up - kind of scary, even. Rain didn't come, but it was so menacing! So thank god the weather cooperated and let us make these. Oh man, they were good. I love summer and summer food.


And while I can think of a thousand rebuttals to this, what's more summery than cherries? I bought so many at the grocery store, it's a little silly. They were on super sale and I got carried away. Good thing that there are a bunch of cherry recipes in the new Bon Appetit, including a salad with butter lettuce and pan-fried chicken thighs that I'm for sure going to make. Not that I really need help getting rid of them, but hopefully planning recipes will stop me from just eating two pounds of cherries in one sitting. It's not hard.

The rub on these ribs is really super. It's got a whole ton of spices in it and there's a nice hot bite to it, as well as being very deep and rich. I wish I'd made more of it, because it'd be great to have on hand to mix into burgers. Since I don't yet have a wood chip basket for our grill, I included both smoked paprika and smoked sea salt in the spice rub. It's not even close to mimicking a smoked rib, but you can't blame me for trying. You can certainly sub out the unsmoked variety if you don't have the smoked on hand. The liquid I brushed on the ribs during grilling was just the juice left in the bottom of the pan after roasting. If you want to try something different, I'd say try using an equal parts mixture of mustard and cider vinegar. I love vinegary sauces.

The cherry and cabbage slaw is a really simple, crisp little salad. There's no mayo in it, so it's not a traditional cole slaw. Instead it's tossed in a lime and olive oil dressing. This recipe makes a whole ton (even a half cabbage is just so much cabbage!), but it's such a good side to have around. I had it for breakfast with my eggs. Not the best for morning breath, despite a vigorous teeth brushing. I was thinking toasted pecans or some other nut would be really yummy in it. You could also do another pitted fruit in place of the cherries - sliced peaches or nectarines. I love pitted fruit season! Red cabbage is in general prettier, but for some reason a bit more expensive. So, I bought green.

baby back ribs
1 whole rack of pork ribs, cut in half crosswise

spice rub
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or normal)
1 tablespoon ground ancho chiles
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon applewood smoked sea salt (or normal)

1. Mix all spices together. Place ribs in two large baking dishes (or in one if you have one large enough). Rub spices all over ribs and let sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Add about a 1/2 cup of water to each dish. Cover tightly with foil and cook for about 80 minutes.

3. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill ribs for about 10-12 minutes, basting frequently with the leftover liquid in the baking dish. Once they're super crispy, they're done.

cherry cabbage slaw

1/2 cabbage head, cored, halved or thirded lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced crosswise
2 medium carrots, shredded or julienned
2 cups fresh cherries, halved and pitted
juice and zest of 2 limes
4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Mix lime juice, zest, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Toss with vegetables and cherries.

Have fun making this! Hopefully your weather is nicer than ours has been. You know what you should also do? Check out the beginnings of my new business, Gathered! It's a Paleo snack and pantry items company. I'm giving out samples to local gyms and businesses right now, and I hope to soon have a whole bunch of items available for sale online and at local businesses. Think jerky, grain-free and low sugar cookies, rendered animal fats, spice mixes, protein bars... I have tons of ideas. I'd love to hear any ideas, comments, suggestions, etc. that you might have. Post them on the Facebook site or shoot me an email at gatheredfoods@gmail.com. Thanks! : )

This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

herbed top sirloin with sautéed radishes

By Julie

So I've finally gotten my garden planned for the summer. I had initially wanted to build a raised-bed garden. The soil in Denver is laughably hard. Really, it's like you have a cement yard. Not being interested in getting a rototiller when I'm just renting my house, I thought a raised bed was the best option. Then, when I was at Home Depot all set to buy the wood, I thought again and realized that I was doing the same thing - investing in the property. And if I decided to deconstruct the raised beds when we moved, then I'd have to replant grass where they were. My landlords aren't interested in paying me to improve the value of the house and so I'm not going to do it. So, I decided to buy pots. That's what I used to use back in Boston. I had to leave them all on the patio with my plants still in them when I moved - no room. So sad! I hope the new tenants there enjoyed all of my tomatoes! Though it was pretty late to start, I planted seeds in two egg carton pallets. Part of what I'm planting are a whole bunch of herbs in a goal to have a more complete herb garden. I hate buying herbs from the grocery store. I guess it's okay for when you need a large amount for pesto or something, but for a recipe like this herbed steak, I don't want to have to buy them. Having all sorts of herbs at your disposal will also make it easier to make a great last minute dinner.


I'm also growing radishes (my first seedlings to pop up!) and I'm super excited because these sautéed ones are a whole new way of eating them for me and they were super good. I kind of feel like radishes easily get relegated to garnish or filler status. But I've been eying lots of fun recipes with radishes in them since spring recipes started coming out this year. Sautéing and roasting are the two options that appealed the most to me, partly because it's still not warm and summery out and I'm still easing into salad weather.

So this is a great spring dish, with seasonal vegetables and a fresh, light herb coating on grilled steak. I used oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I think some hot pepper flakes would be great, too. For the veggies, you could substitute another spring onion for the leeks - ramps or scallions. Shallots would work nicely. But obviously, use the radishes. Their color bleeds a bit, so I'm not sure seeking out Easter egg radishes or other varying colored ones would be really worth it. If you're gonna try roasting them like I want to, then that'd be real pretty. The radish greens in the dish cook down so much that they don't play a huge role, but they still provide a nice bitter greens bite.

herbed steaks

2 1-1/2 inch, 1/2 pound top sirloin steaks
1 teaspoon oregano (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon rosemary (preferably fresh)
1 teaspoon thyme (preferably fresh)
fresh ground pepper and sea salt
olive oil

1. Sprinkle herbs, salt, and pepper all over steaks, pressing in to stick. Let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

2. Heat grill on medium-high. Drizzle steaks with a bit of olive oil and grill for about 3-4 minutes per side. You can also do high heat for about 2-3 minutes per side for a crispier outside and a bit rarer inside. (I cooked mine a bit too long. Such a disappointment!)

3. Let steaks sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into them.

sautéed radishes
Note: both radishes and leeks tend to be very dirty. The best way to wash them is by placing them in a colander and then submerging the colander in a bowl of water. Agitate a bunch and the dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl.

If you're working alone, I'd suggest doing the veggies first and covering until the steaks are cooked. It's better to try to reheat veggies than steak.


1 bunch radishes, halved or quartered if large, leaves trimmed, thick stems discarded
2 leeks, light green and white parts quartered lengthwise then sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons butter or oil of your choice
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped

Heat butter or oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high. Add radishes, radish greens, and leeks. Sauté for about 7-10 minutes, until radishes are fork tender. Season with salt and pepper. You can add more butter too... I like to do that. Sprinkle parsley on top.

Serve the steaks with a big heap of the radishes on the side. Yum! Anybody else planting a garden this spring? What are you planting?


This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Objectivist Links

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 fresh links related to Objectivism from around the web for anyone interested in learning more about the philosophy.

The Objectivist Roundup: I've hosted the last two editions: June 9th and June 17th on my blog NoodleFood. Go see what Objectivists have been blogging about lately!

Rationally Selfish Webcast: Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET at www.RationallySelfish.com, I'll answer questions on the virtue of pride, living together outside marriage, child support from unwilling fathers, profiting from the ignorance of others, deflating bragging looters, and political bipartisanship. You can read the full questions in this blog post. If you're unable to attend the live webcast, 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.

The Objective Standard: The summer issue is on its way, and you can read the Interview with Reza Kahlili (an ex-CIA spy embedded in Iran's Revolutionary Guards), as well as Craig Biddle's essay The Government's Assault on
Private-Sector Colleges and Universities
, for free now.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Paleo Rodeo #065

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:
Dustin Baxley presents Eggs! Six Ways to Cook Em Up! posted at eating and other stuff., saying, "The finer points of making eggs...good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner."

Benjamin Skipper presents Chocolate Review: New Tree's 51% Dark Milk posted at Musing Aloud, saying, "Sounds paradoxical on the surface, but works wonderfully."

Dr. John presents Becoming Paleo, Part 1: The Yale Food Addiction Scale posted at Paleoterran, saying, "Post by John Michael on initial decision to go Paleo."

George Henley presents Primal Cycling In A Carboholic Sport posted at Rolf Devinci Cycling.

Todd Dosenberry presents Ditch Grains Now: You May Have A Leaky Gut & Not Know About It posted at Toad's Primal Journey, saying, "If you are primal/paleo then you know why its important to ditch grains. 99% of the population still has no clue. This post is about why one should now due to the possibilities of having a leaky gut without knowing about it. Please comment on why you avoid grains today."

Tiffany presents Beef Shank Osso Buco Style alla Giada De Laurentis & Tyler Florence Mash Up posted at the cavegirl dish.

Logan Marshall presents The Secret to Physical Longevity posted at Wild Movement.

Brock Brown presents I've Lost the Weight. Why Do I Still Feel Fat? posted at My Paleo Life.

Dustin Sharp presents Eating Real Food and Avoiding Junk Calories Revealed to be the Worst Fucking Diet Ever posted at Paleo Vélo, saying, "A response to the recent US News diet rankings that put the Paleo diet dead last."

Melissa "Melicious" Joulwan presents Carmelized Coconut Chips posted at theclothesmakethegirl, saying, "Salty, sweet, crispy, and luscious with coconut fat, these coconut chips take less than 5 minutes to make... and even less time to eat!"

Ryan presents Paleo Onion Steak Recipe posted at The Urban Cave - Chicago.

Rafael presents Calories Density Causes Obesity? Part III posted at Optimal Health Source.

Nell Stephenson presents "Raise Your Hand For Chocolate Milk" What the...????? posted at TrainWithNellie.

Primal Kitchen's Family Grokumentarian presents Keeping Your Kitchen Cool While Preparing Paleo / Primal Summer Meals posted at Primal Kitchen: A Family Grokumentary, saying, "Though it doesn't really bother me personally, the extra heat in our kitchen from a running oven gets to my husband when the summer temps are at their peak. I've included several ways that you can avoid heating the kitchen on the hottest days of the year."

Stacy Toth presents Our First Giveaway: Evangelical Paleo Paraphernalia « Paleo Parents posted at Paleo Parents, saying, "We're giving away a prize of a free t-shirt so that you too can spread the Paleo gospel."

Tony Federico presents Big Fat Lies posted at FED - Fitness in an Evolutionary Direction, saying, "The notion that saturated fat, specifically the type found in animal products, is "bad" because it raises cholesterol, "clogs" arteries and leads to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases is not just a little off, it's flat out false."

DanM presents Coq au vin posted at Dan's Food Blog, saying, "Does require a casserole dish or slow-cooker, but is very tasty and well worth the effort."

Samantha presents Hellah Delicious, Kid-Approved Stir Fry Recipe posted at RAWR..

NJ Paleo Girl presents Frozen Nanners! posted at NJ Paleo Girl, saying, "Summer heat getting to you? I know it has me sweating... what better way to cool down (and get rid of those ripe bananas sitting on your counter) than making Frozen Nanners on a Stick?"

NJ Paleo Girl presents Nine Weeks and my First Check Up! posted at Erin, saying, "Today marks the beginning of our 9th week, according to the Bump, Pork Chop is the size of a Green Olive and officially a Fetus and no longer an embryo!"

Megh presents Frozen foods on the road posted at Yolks, Kefir, and Gristle, saying, "One of a series of posts I'm doing about following GAPS/paleo on our recent road trip."

Meghan Little presents Blueberry Muffins posted at Paleo Effect, saying, "Delicious Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free Paleo Blueberry Muffins?! Yes, its true! See more at www.paleoeffect.com"

Laurie Donaldson presents Primal Strength posted at Food for Primal Thought, saying, "Lessons from my foray into the world of strength training."

Peggy Emch presents Pemmican, Oh Pemmican ? How Do I Love Thee? posted at The Primal Parent, saying, "Native American treat is so delicious. I've given a little history and tried my best to describe the experience."

Kris presents List of foods high in Vitamin D posted at Kris Health Blog, saying, "A compilation of a list of foods high in vitamin d, but there are very few vitamin d rich foods that actually contain useful amounts of this important vitamin."

Havard presents 10 things you can do today to start your primal journey posted at Courageous Mind, saying, "Sometimes, getting started is half the battle. Here are 10 easy things you can do today to get started with a paleo lifestyle."

Meghan Little / Angel Torres presents French Salad Dressing posted at Paleo Effect, saying, "A simple and amazing salad dressing that you can use on any Paleo Salad or Grilling combination. It is simple and heavenly Paleo."

Julia Campbell presents bacon posted at the crankin' kitchen!, saying, "Bacon! Homemade bacon!"

Angie presents Seasoned Sirloin Tip Steak posted at Angie's Suburban Oasis, saying, "Sirloin steak with mushrooms and onions recipe along with a steak rub recipe that's so tasty and flavorful!"

Greg Perkins presents Crazy Ultra-Endurance Fun, CrossFit Style! posted at Modern Paleo, saying, "Our latest random adventure, where I hit the trails with Tammy and became an accidental ultra-endurance athlete for a day!"

Josephine Svendblad presents Beet and Turkish Goat Cheese with Guava Dressing posted at Nutty Kitchen, saying, "The power of beets ... in an arrangement of a flower."

Dustin Baxley presents "Healthy" posted at eating and other stuff., saying, "Who can we trust when it comes to health and diet advice???"
Many thanks to the PaleoBloggers who submitted to this edition of the The Paleo Rodeo! This blog carnival has plenty of room to grow! So 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: Home-Grown Vegetables

By Diana Hsieh

Tomato bounty

This week's "Paleo Question of the Week" was submitted to Google Moderator by me:
Do you grow your own vegetables? What's your favorite home-grown vegetable?
We want to hear your answer in the comments! You're also welcome to post a comment or question on any other paleo-related topic.

If you'd like to submit a question for an upcoming week or vote on questions submitted by others, go check out the Google Moderator session. (We're running low on questions, so please submit any that you think might be interesting!)

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chocolate Review: Dagoba's 87% Eclipse

By Benjamin Skipper

While Endangered Species may be my favorite brand, Dagoba has become quite the runner-up in my interests. Their product line is so refreshingly inconsistent, with its various offerings differing in hues, aromas, cacao flavor profiles, and textures. Most other chocolate companies are fairly consistent otherwise, such as in what nature their cocoa takes on regardless of any flavor infusions, so this company comes off to me as a grab bag of surprises. My intrigue continued as I tasted Dagoba's 87% cacao Eclipse dark chocolate, their darkest stand-alone offering.

It's not very complex, but it pleases me with its near pure strength. The aroma is extremely floral with strong touches of sweet cacao and spice, but the flavor profile doesn't follow as it's about as pure chocolate as chocolate can get, though mildly fruity, from start to finish with hardly a trace of anything else. It's slightly bitter, but its own mildness almost comes off as a savoriness. Unlike most bars I've tasted there's no vanilla extract or bean scrapings, so obviously there's no notes from that. It has an okay melt, in a lumpy fashion as if you've put chocolate chips in your mouth.

The appearance of the bar itself is very dark with a healthy snap and smooth inward gradient, but it's shine is dull, there are light steaks on the back, and it appears "dusty." Minus points on aesthetics. Nonetheless it is still an enjoyable bar, especially since the cacao dominates the show with only mild assistance from fruit. At this level of darkness and given my breadth of a taste memory, I'd have to say this may be the best chocolate bar for a pure chocolate experience. I still have yet to form an opinion on a 99% variety of course, but that will come soon enough.

Though how does it stand up to its competitors? To date I've reviewed Endangered Species' 88%, Lindt's 90% (omitting the 85%), Chocolove's XOXOX (77%), Green & Black's 85%, and Ghirardelli's 86% Midnight Reverie. Chocolove I view to be an overall terrible producer, as their 77% bar is way too mild, ugly, and has a horrendous mouthfeel, so I'd dismiss them off the bat. G&B and Lindt's both have strong vanilla attributes and a fantastic mouthfeel, only I think G&B's is much more potent and higher quality, as the chocolate tastes stronger and the mouthfeel is heavenly, so I'd take that over Lindt. Endangered Species' is straight chocolaty like Dagoba, but its own bitterness is a littler stronger and not to my liking, so I'd discount that as well.

In truth, I'd actually pick three as all good in their own right: G&B's, Ghirardelli, and Dagoba. They all have different flavor profiles with different emphases, so there's reason to choose between them depending on your preferences. If you like vanilla and a beyond smooth mouthfeel, then go with G&B's; if you like the smokiness of roasted cocao and tart fruit, then choose Ghirardelli; if you want straight up chocolate with few other complexities and have it in the 80% percentile darkness threshold, then go with Dagoba. I myself will be enjoying all three, though enjoy G&B's the most.

In summary, Dagoba continues to please me. I love how significantly different all their bars are and how the packages come in a rainbow assortment, stimulating both the eyes and intellect. They will absolutely continue to be on my watch list. I recommend this variety.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mark Sisson's "Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals"

By Gerry

I recently bought a copy of Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint: Quick & Easy Meals. I already had Mark's prior cookbook (which was suprisingly good) and I was expecting the Quick & Easy version to be a "dumbing down" of the first. It's not! I can't say enough good things about the new book. Not only is it a visual feast for the eyes, but the recipes are amazing. Mark uses a 3-pictures-per-recipe format to show how the recipe is put together. This is very helpful, especially if you're a more basic cook like me. The photographs are high quality, the layout is awesome, and just looking through the book is a treat. Mark's added an appendix, which is also a great improvement on his first book.

I have about 30-40 cookbooks. Most have given me 3-4 recipes as I pick through the ones that look the most appetizing. After a week with Quick & Easy Meals I'm already 5-6 recipes in and each one is so good that I'll be adding it to my regular cooking routine. And there's a lot more I want to try. I expect that I'll end up trying about 75% of the recipes.

The recipes really are quick and easy to make. But they're also innovative and delicious. I had the Berry Pancake this morning. For lunch I had the Fried Pork Cauliflower Rice. Both were recipes I'd never had before and both were real winners.

Quick & Easy Meals is easily my favorite cookbook now. I'm looking forward to trying as many of the recipes as I can. If you're looking for a great cookbook I can't recommend it enough.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sensory Enrichment and Health

By Benjamin Skipper

Recently I've conducted a health experiment with sensory enrichment to see how it would improve my well-being, and to my surprise it has enhanced my emotional health considerably and has even given me unexpected benefits, both physical and emotional. From now on I intend to incorporate this methodology into my life permanently. I even feel a considerable craving to keep searching for new experiences to stimulate my senses.

I was prompted to conduct this experiment after noticing how discontent and fidgety I was getting trying to read in my room all the time. Improving my mind is a primary value in my life, which leads to constant reading, studying, and thinking, but the reading part was keeping me in my room all the time. Eventually my fidgety-ness got so bad I simply couldn't concentrate or obtain any positive benefit from my reading. A particularly noteworthy symptom is that I was glancing out my window all the time longing to be outside in the sun and surrounded by nature. I then remembered an article on Mark's Daily Apple about the benefits of studying in different environments, which I cannot find and link to unfortunately, and was given an idea for an experiment by an article written on enriched environments. I figured I was going stir crazy and becoming bored with routines that were keeping me in the same environments all the time, so I set out to see if adding more variety would improve things.

The experiment was simple. For my reading, I would insert myself into a new environment -- like the backyard, park, or local bookstore -- and see how well I fared given I never read there, and in my walking I would construct new routes for traveling to the one park I visit regularly to see if it improved my experience. After a week I had eliminated my discontent with any environmental setting, could concentrate and read better, get more intensely involved in a book, felt more refreshed and satisfied by my walks, decreased any annoying urge to "get out of the house," and just felt better generally. Additionally, my brain felt more stimulated, challenged, and alert, and at nighttime I felt more mentally taxed, got to sleep more easily, and woke up feeling completely rested. It seems that indeed keeping oneself constantly exposed to new sensations is beneficial to health to an appreciable degree. Why is this?

My hypothesis is that it's more of a refreshing and challenging experience for the brain to process information that's new to it (e.g. new locations) or hasn't experienced in a while (e.g. a favorite meal long absent), and that stimulation in effect leads to more contentment and better mental processing through increased brain activity and improves sleep through the increased energy demand. Have you ever noticed how routine environments, like cubicles, have seemingly no special details or nuances if you see them everyday, and that in traveling to new places you suddenly feel alert and interested in everything around you? Or how about aromas, where a foreign smell like cinnamon will seem powerful and soothing in a mall whereas an aromatherapy candle becomes undetectable after an hour of burning? The brain is so familiar with routine sensations that it's hardly a challenge to process it and thus dulls one's alertness, where new things place demands on one's capacities that heightens attention and overall mental activity.

From an evolutionary perspective, I can see how man has possibly evolved to need these kind of stimulants. It must've been quite some time before man developed to the point that he could build a shelter and reside in it for months, years, or even an entire lifetime; man probably had to keep wandering around in order to follow the food, and in doing that he developed so that regularly processing new sensory data became a desirable, maybe even necessary attribute for full brain health. I know that my well-being has increased to a considerable degree in every realm, from my intelligence to sleeping habits, since incorporating more sensory variety. And it's such an easy lifestyle change to make as well! All you have to do is keep exposing yourself to new sensations, even as minor as switching up routes to the lunchroom at work.

I never expected sensory improvement to be this beneficial to my being, but for now on I resolve to keep adding new variations to my routine.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Crazy Ultra-Endurance Fun, CrossFit Style!

By Greg Perkins

Tammy was excited to discover that a local pack of ultra-endurance runners had set up a 12-hour event where participants try to complete as many laps as possible of a 6-mile trail right here in our foothills (Boise has a fantastic network of running/mountain-biking trails). This format lets ultrarunning crazies at different levels of development all play together: the newer crazies can do just a few laps, while more seasoned crazies can go for substantial distances, all in the same event.

As her "support crew," I was thrilled that this would be happening just a couple of miles from our house (hey, it was a loooong drive to those the two 12-hour trail races in Moab she did, awesome as they were).

And Tammy was thrilled to report that they would have a mountain-biking division. Uh, oh.

But, dear, I'm the crucial support crew for you on your crazy ultra-endurance runs! See, I need to mix your custom goo for you and reload your water and... Well, yes, I suppose you could pre-mix it the night before and manage your own water... But you're forgetting that I've only done maybe two quick rides this season. You know that with no conditioning my rear couldn't handle any kind of time in the saddle, much less 12 freaking hours! Well, yeah, I suppose I could just do a few laps to participate a bit while I cheer you and the other crazies on...

So we took my bike.

6:00am Saturday morning. They all counted down and took off while I was messing with getting my front brakes to work right, and I was able to hit the trail 15 minutes later.

It turned out to be a moderate single-track mountain-bike loop, with about 800 feet of climbing and of course 800 of downhill. Soon I was back at the trailhead to record the lap, then I headed out again going the opposite direction.

My rear wasn't complaining too badly after a few laps, so I thought I'd maybe try to work in a solid six laps over the course of the day. That seemed like a respectable amount of time/distance/elevation for the "support crew" to Represent. Besides, it was kind of fun checking in on all of the runners (especially my runner) with each pass of the course, going back and forth in alternating directions.

Soon I had been adopted as the runners' Token Biker for the day. Many asked how many laps I was going for as I passed, and I would explain that I was just there with Tammy, having a little fun, and that I would stop when she did.

After five or six hours, though, I noticed that I still felt fine -- and I wasn't slowing down at all. So naturally I started flirting with the idea of just going for it and seeing if I could really keep riding like that for the entire 12 hours and complete 12 full laps, whether or not Tammy wanted to keep going! Since I had no ultra-endurance experience or preparation, this unusual effort would also be a great test of the "ready state" that CrossFit is supposed to be giving me.

Well, apparently Tammy knows me too well! She had mixed twice as much goo as she needed the night before, just so I could fuel a very long day right along with her.

In the end, we had a great time with a nice group of folks, and we enjoyed a clean sweep of both the running and the mountain-biking divisions that day. Woo! Team Perkins brings it! :^)

I was able to ride steadily through all 12 hours, from 6:00am to 6:00pm, covering 12 laps. That's about 73 miles, and almost 20,000 vertical feet of elevation change.

More difficult in my opinion was Tammy running all 12 hours, covering 9 laps. That is just shy of 55 miles with almost 15,000 vertical feet of elevation change. On foot!

We were certainly depleted, but not disabled, and we recovered quickly. In fact, I didn't suffer any soreness to speak of, despite becoming a spontaneous ultra-endurance athlete for a day. Heading as usual to the CrossFit gym early Monday morning, we turned in decent performances, smiling through the strain because we knew it was preparing us for the next fun challenge to come our way.

(Thanks to Longrun Picture Company
for photographing everyone that day!)

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