Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Jun

10 Foods I Couldn’t Live Without

If you had to subsist on ten foods for the rest of your life, which ten would you choose? That was essentially the question posed to me by a reader email. In it, Jamie made an elaborate setup: having been chosen to man a mission to Mars in the near future, I have to program my Food Machine for the trip. The Food Machine is a wondrous piece of technology that can create any Earth-based food from scratch, but the catch is that it can only store ten “recipes” and the programming has to take place before we leave. Once I’m up in the shuttle, I can’t change my mind. I’ll have to live with these foods for ten years (and maybe longer – who knows how things will go down). More than simply survive, I’ll have to thrive on these foods. I’ll have to get all the essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, so I had better get it right.

It was hard to choose. Obviously, it’s just a thought experiment, but I really tried to balance flavor/pleasure and nutritional completeness. Sticking to Primal foods, this usually takes care of itself, but, well, it’s ten years.

1. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Extra Thick Skin

To me, skin-on sockeye salmon gives you two foods in one. The flesh is great stuff, no doubt – flaky, delicate, delicious – but the skin is perfection. Crispy sockeye skin is like bacon of the sea, and yet people avoid it. I don’t understand why. I go crazy for the stuff. In fact, I’m never one to eat off of others’ plates, except when skin-on salmon is served. People eat around it, they scrape the meat off, they push it aside so it hangs off the plate, forgotten. But not by me. I will eat your salmon skin if you don’t appreciate it. So, yeah. Endless amounts of salmon skin bacon? Sure, I’ll brave the red planet for that.

Salmon takes care of selenium and omega-3s, and it gets me part of the way there for vitamin D. The skin is particularly fatty and nutrient-rich.

2. Bone-In Grass-Fed Cowboy Ribeye

Nothing can replace the basic human urge to eat the occasional massive slab of animal except actually eating a big massive slab of animal, and the bone handle that comes attached to the cowboy ribeye is perfect for low-gravity situations.

It’s a great source of quality animal fat (including a modest amount of omega-3s), protein, B-vitamins, and – because the “grass” the cow “fed” on “grew” in nutrient-dense soil – minerals.

3. Grass-Fed Butter

The rich golden goodness of butter is tough to beat, and I can slather it on just about anything. For the fatty acid profile (including CLA), vitamin A, vitamin K2, and omega-3s, grass-fed butter makes the cut. But let’s be honest. This is mostly about the taste: the creaminess, the richness and the mouth-feel that satisfies like nothing else.

4. Broccoli

I need my cruciferous fix, and broccoli is that fix. The absorbent tops do a decent job of soaking up meat juice, sauce, and butter.

5. Blackberries

A good blackberry is good. I mean, who doesn’t like biting into a plump one and feeling all those tiny bulbs explode, releasing their juices into your mouth. Because they’re so physically imposing compared to the other berries, I can eat blackberries one at a time and be totally satisfied, whereas with really good blueberries or raspberries I find myself shoveling them in.

Blackberries are good sources of soluble fiber (gut flora food), vitamin C, and deliciousness.

6. Pasture-Raised Eggs

It came down between grass-fed lamb liver (see Honorable Mentions below) and eggs, and eggs won out. Poached, fried, baked, scrambled, hard-boiled, and even raw at times, I love eggs just about any way they’re served. And hey, they pack a healthy dose of selenium, iodine, phosphorus, molybdenum, choline, lutein, vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, E, D and K. Add to this 5.5 grams of protein per egg and essential fatty acids, and you’ve got yourself a delicious and decadent powerhouse food.

7. Spinach

Spinach offers calcium and magnesium in spades, pairs well with meat of any kind, can be sauteed, steamed, thrown into soups, or eaten raw, and provides roughage when I’m into that sort of thing.

While there’s some concern over excessive consumption of oxalates in spinach leading to kidney stones, I won’t be eating it exclusively nor in massive quantities. I can’t say the same for the vegetarian dude who gets stuck with me as a crew member.

8. Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

I’ve really grown enamored of these purple beauties. Best of all, using the Food Machine means I won’t have to settle for those light lavender-ish “purple” yams I sometimes get at the Asian markets. Instead, I can make sure I get the deepest, purplest potatoes around.

Okinawan sweet potatoes take care of any blue-related antioxidant compounds I might be missing by skipping on blueberries.

9. Grass-Fed Greek Yogurt

I need something fermented, and I think I’d get sick of kimchi or sauerkraut after awhile, so Greek yogurt it is. But not just any regular old Greek yogurt, though Fage is a great brand. I’d program the Greek yogurt from Papa Cristos in Los Angeles, a Greek restaurant/grocer that makes their own Greek yogurt on the premises. Ironically, it’s a Bulgarian dude that actually makes the stuff, but in the Greek fashion. This is thick, rich yogurt with more tang (and therefore probiotics) than Fage.

Good Greek yogurt (not the 0% fat nonsense) is rich in healthy dairy fat. And, since this is my fantasy, this particular Greek yogurt would be made from A2 casein milk cattle raised by the Masai on fertile grassland, so I bet you’d get some vitamin K2 in there somehow.

10. Macadamia Nuts

I just ran the previous nine items through Cronometer, and I hit the RDAs with ease, so this one is pure pleasure. Macadamia nuts are perfectly nutritious – good source of monounsaturated fats, ultra low in polyunsaturated fats – but, as far as nutritional requirements go, they weren’t required. Besides, I can’t truly enjoy my Greek yogurt without macadamias and blackberries mixed in (seriously, try it; it’s insanely good).

Honorable Mentions

Grass-Fed Lamb Liver – While beef liver is often described as nature’s multivitamin, lamb liver is pretty similar nutritionally but with a milder flavor. I honestly enjoy beef liver. I just think I could eat lamb liver on a regular basis, and never feel like it was a chore. Lamb liver takes care of tons of micronutrients: folate, selenium, choline, vitamin A, copper, all B-vitamins. Really it was a toss up between liver and eggs for me, and eggs won out.

Cheese – I thought about swapping out the broccoli for really great cheese but couldn’t pull the trigger. But dang, would I miss it…

Bacon – The presence of sockeye salmon skin made this an easier choice that it would have been otherwise. Sorry, bacon.

Bone Broth – While many have tried looking into the specific nutrient composition of bone broth, there has never really been a definitive answer given. Regardless, the stuff is tasty, makes a nice warm drink for those cold Mars winters, and definitely contains something worthwhile. I’m not talking your standard variety six-hour bone broth, mind you. I’m talking three-day epic bone-disintegrating broth with Sally Fallon herself manning the stock pot while being presided over by the spirit of Weston A. Price. Broth that solidifies at room temperature. Broth that doubles as shoe-gel inserts. Broth that, though nutritious and satisfying, still didn’t break into the top ten.

Other Berries – I love all berries, usually equally, but blackberries got my vote today because I’ve been wolfing them down and they’ve been particularly good this season. Ask me in a couple weeks and I might say raspberries.

Cabernet Sauvignon – I wasn’t sure if I had to include this in the foods or if I could sneak it in with the water. If not, I might end up swapping out the nuts for the wine. Eh, since this is a thought experiment, I’ll just go ahead and think that the latter is true.

Of course, I could live without all of these foods. Oh, but how I would suffer. Fortunately, I won’t be headed to Mars anytime soon and I can enjoy the rich bounty of whole foods that are part of the Primal Blueprint eating strategy from my terrestrial station.

So, that’s me, but what about you? Which ten foods would you program into the Food Machine to be eaten exclusively for the rest of your life? How would you ensure that you both survive and thrive on a diet of only ten foods? Let us know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Salmnon is perpetually on sale, here in Vancouver.
    Those Okinawan yams are called ‘Kumara’ in New Zealand and they’re a Maori staple food. They make great fries!
    I was so happy when i found an Asian supermarket that stocks them! 😀

    Nion wrote on June 14th, 2011
  2. Is that what you call it, Okinawan sweet potato? We call it “camote” or sometimes, “Japanese potato” same thing. You can slice those real thin and fry them in coconut oil, very tasty! You can also bake them and slather coconut oil on top :).

    Lia wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • I’m gonna try that…sounds delicious!

      Nion wrote on June 14th, 2011
  3. Hmmm… In no particular order:

    1) chard (swiss)
    2) coconut milk
    3) local, grass-fed beef steaks (any, just not minute steak)
    4) local double-smoked bacon (how I love thee!)
    5) red onions
    6) broccoli
    7) eggs
    8) olives (I’ve become addicted to garlic-stuffed green olives)
    9) blueberries
    10) red peppers

    Okay, I’ve decided I can’t actually live with only 10. I need at least 15, having to add: mushrooms, cabernet-sauvignon, Mill St. Organic (beer), field greens, and… garlic, perhaps?

    Get rid of my bed? No problem. Reduce 800 books down to 75? Done. Eliminate a huge chunk of my wardrobe? Happily. Etc etc. But don’t ask me to reduce or eliminate foods. I just can’t. It hurts my soul to even contemplate it.

    Please excuse me. I have to go hug my asparagus now. It knows I’ve excluded it from the above lists and I can feel its passive-aggression radiating from the fridge….

    Patrick wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • lol @ the asparagus (:

      Alyssa wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • Love the addiction to garlic stuffed green olives myself….the perfect side condiment to any meal.

      Dan wrote on June 15th, 2011
  4. 1. Eggs: I eat them every day
    2. Salmon: I’d eat it every day if I could afford to do so.
    3. Grass-fed beef. I typically get it from a farm in Iowa that I found through Eat Wild.
    4. Peanut Butter: I don’t think PB is technically primal but I eat it like it’s going extinct.
    5. Sweet Potato: I still can’t believe something that tastes this freaking good is really healthy. Actually scratch that, this is true for most primal foods.
    6. Spinach: I like Kale but not as much
    7. Almonds: sometimes you feel like a nut. When I feel nutty it is almost always for almonds.
    8. Garlic: the key ingredient in my morning eggs every day. 1-2 cloves depending on the mood and size of the cloves.
    9. Grass-fed bacon: crispy, meaty, sweet and salty goodness. As far as I’m concerned bacon combined with peanut butter is a delicacy.
    10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Dave wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • I couldn’t live without sweet potatoes either. I typically indulge in them once a week after sprinting. It’s like a big ol’ hunk of candy. Especially with pastured butter!

      Abigail wrote on June 15th, 2011
  5. I had both wild alaska sockeye salmon, baby spinach, and greek yogurt (Fage Total) for lunch – this is funny! I agree with all of your picks. I am surprised though that chocolate does not get an honorable mention? 😀

    Meagan wrote on June 14th, 2011
  6. I like how blackberries are a good source of ‘deliciousness’ in your post today, Mark. Definitely an important nutrient for anyone living the good life. :)

    kerrybonnie wrote on June 14th, 2011
  7. 1. Trout, Bass and Oysters
    2. Grassfed Meat of any kind
    (Pork, Elk, Rabbit, Chicken, Goat, Lamb, Cow)
    3. Grassfed Butter
    4. Lard, Kidney fat
    5. Raw Goats Milk
    6. Eggs
    7. Bone Broth and Bone Marrow
    8. Organ Meats
    9. Lettuce of any kind
    10. Blueberries

    (11. Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt and all fresh Herbs)

    Primal Palate wrote on June 14th, 2011
  8. Bacon wouldn’t ever come off of my list. 😉 BACON IS A KEEPER… But I really liked the rest of your selection. lol

    Jeanna wrote on June 14th, 2011
  9. I’m including red wine under medical supplies :-)

    Harry wrote on June 14th, 2011
  10. Nice choices there.

    I think I’d have to programme bacon in there two or three times, just to be safe 😉

    Stevemidd wrote on June 14th, 2011
  11. Nice list- Perfect list in fact. Greek Yogurt has always been a favorite of mine but this no fat BS is now personal. The major supermarket in my area ( I shope the perimeter only and less and less now that farmer’s markets are here ) stopped selling the Fage full fat “Total” version claiming that Fage stopped making it. Of course fage hasn’t and claims that this supermarket still sells it- they don’t. I stopped buying Fage and from a different brand vermont’s Cabot (the cheese people)- not the same but good and half the price. Lots of protein fro strength training months and all the good fat. Fage has been less than helpful but I thank them for letting me discover another product. Eat your full fat folks

    pjnoir wrote on June 14th, 2011
  12. I can’t believe that bacon didn’t make the cut. That is pure blasphemy! Add bacon to ANYTHING, and it becomes 10X better…

    I can’t think of 10, but here’s my list:

    #1 Bacon
    #2 Mushrooms (Morels are king, but are only available 1 month each year. I’d settle for shiitakes or even portobellos)
    #3 Mangos
    #4 Peppers of any kind
    #5 Tomato
    #6 Chocolate
    #7 Ribeye Steak
    #8 Eggs

    Happy2Fly wrote on June 14th, 2011
  13. “I’m talking three-day epic bone-disintegrating broth with Sally Fallon herself manning the stock pot while being presided over by the spirit of Weston A. Price.”

    Ha! Loved this! I’m picturing a cauldron at Stonehenge and druid robes.

    jlocicero wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • Best line of the post. Made me chuckle (:

      Alyssa wrote on June 14th, 2011
  14. Who says a whole animal isn’t a “food”?

    1) Whole pastured cow
    2) Whole pastured pig
    3) Whole pastured chicken
    4) Raw whole pastured cow’s milk
    5) Pastured chicken eggs

    Which gives me meat and offal from my 3 major meat animals, as well as all forms of pastured dairy (cheese, butter, ghee, and yogurt, yogurt, yogurt!)

    6) Asparagus
    7) Broccoli
    8) Spinach
    9) Blueberries
    10) Pistachios (my very favorite nut, raw or roasted, but unsalted please!)

    Uncephalized wrote on June 14th, 2011
  15. Brussel sprouts, butter, coconut oil, leg of goat roast, kale, radishes, beets, pork shoulder, chicken livers, & bacon to wrap around.
    (must have: sea salt, garam masala, & garlic in the seasoning allowance)

    peggy wrote on June 14th, 2011
  16. Coconut oil
    wild salmon
    dark chocolate

    Laura wrote on June 14th, 2011
  17. 1. Salmon
    2. Beef
    3. Heavy cream
    4. Broccoli
    5. Blueberries
    6. Kale
    7. Yukon Gold potatoes
    8. Okinawan sweet potatoes
    9. Dark chocolate

    Harry wrote on June 14th, 2011
  18. Love this post!

    Pastured eggs (in my dream world they’re from my dream chicken)
    sweet potato
    spinach (seriously)
    grass fed beef (for grass fed burgers)
    carrots (of the baby variety)
    dark chocolate (ditto the 70% or greater)

    AllieNic @ Frisky Lemon wrote on June 14th, 2011
  19. mark, if water is provided you can go ahead and simmer those ribeye and sockeye bones for some kick-ass stock!

    an endless supply of pastured raw milk is #1 on my list. a little patience, a little skill, and voila! raw cream, clabber, farmer’s cheese, yoghurt, cream cheese, and whey. (as a bonus, once whey is in the culinary arsenal so are fruit and vegetable chutneys, preserves, wine, and vinegar. now we’re talking!)

    2. coffee, whole bean french roast
    3. whole coconut (meat, milk, and oil)
    4. washington blackberries (kudos, mark!)
    5. raw sunflower honey
    6. cabbage, red and green
    7. sweet potatoes
    8. whole pastured chickens (skin, meat, organs, bones, heads, and feet – but i’ll pass on the feathers, thanks!)
    9. whole wild alaskan salmon (skin, meat, organs, bones, heads, and tails)
    10. whole pastured cows (i just can’t bring myself to commit to muscle meat versus organ meat, so i’ll butcher the dadgum things myself!)

    i’m also bringing the following medical supplies: my entire herb garden, garlic, and chocolate (in case of dementor attack.)

    whitney wrote on June 14th, 2011
  20. For the salmon skin, does it matter whether there are scales still on it? They seem really thin and pretty soft, but I’m not sure if it’d be advisable to eat them. They’re usually mostly removed, yet there are also usually quite a few stragglers still on the skin.

    Anthony DiSante wrote on June 14th, 2011
  21. I cant believe you didnt say the tomato… I dont know what I would do without bbq sauce, maranara sauce, or salsa… oh wait, the chili pepper too

    great pics though…

    robert wilke wrote on June 14th, 2011
  22. LOL! We just ate wild salmon at a friends – and I ate the skin! Our host even commented on it..but it IS SOOO good!
    I add to those who choose kale over spinach, and somehow I’d add chocolate instead of wine!
    Grok on!

    Hopeless Dreamer wrote on June 14th, 2011
  23. Ah geez, after seeing all these lists, I have to make my own, and it would be…

    1. Bacon
    2. Eggs
    3. Salmon
    4. Spinach
    5. Elk Backstrap
    6. Albacore Tuna
    7. Cream (via Localad’s suggestion)
    8. Sweet Potatoe
    9. Liver (Buffalo is my fave so far)
    10. Apple (My favorite food to eat and cook with, a definite)

    And I think that I could be pretty happy with those foods. Next would be coconut oil, kale, sweet onions and chicken breast (I like the legs the best, but damn those omega sixes!).

    Jeff wrote on June 14th, 2011
  24. Hmmmmm, I think I’ll just volunteer to pilot the space craft to ferry you guys back and forth — that way I can have my top 10 list along with me and bum off your lists as well!

    PrimalGrandma wrote on June 14th, 2011
  25. I’m so glad the Cab Sav made it into the honorable mentions!

    FarmerBen wrote on June 14th, 2011
  26. I think it is amazing that you can get all your nutritional requirements from just 9 foods.

    Jo wrote on June 14th, 2011
  27. butter, yogurt, cheese, bacon and wine – c’mon that aint paleo.

    caprica wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • But it is primal, and bacon is also paleo.

      Jeff wrote on June 14th, 2011
  28. 1 Coconut Milk
    2 Avocados
    3 Bacon
    4 Cab Sav
    5 Rib Steak
    6 Lindt 90%
    7 Cod (Filets,Cheeks and Tongues)
    8 Moose
    9 Blueberries
    10 More Bacon 😉

    Jerm wrote on June 14th, 2011
  29. I wish I liked salmon. It just tastes like licking the inside of an algae-filled aquarium to me.

    Karen P. wrote on June 14th, 2011
  30. Grass-fed beef and fine extra virgin olive oil drisseled over-top. Nutrition aside, I could live on just this for 10 years.

    Jaybird wrote on June 14th, 2011
  31. Mark,
    I’m excited to read about the Okinawan Sweet Potato here and on the jump. I’m moving to Okinawa in three weeks and freaking out a bit about what the food is going to be like. Glad to have something specific to look for and try.

    Bobbie wrote on June 14th, 2011
  32. Marijuana

    bob wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • That’s an herb and therefore included under seasonings…

      jpatti wrote on June 30th, 2011
  33. Thanks for the thought experiment. This was fun!

    1.Grass fed lamb. Do I have to select a cut? I love them all. But if I have to choose, leg of lamb.
    2. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Extra Thick Skin. I love this idea
    3. Pastured chicken eggs
    4. Mustard or collard greens. I love them both!
    5. Vidalia onions. They would be great raw and good cooked.
    6. Roma tomatoes – I went too many years not eating tomatoes because of heartburn to give them up for 10 more years!
    7. Coconut oil/milk/meat (does this count as 3 or 1?)
    8. Pastured chicken -whole, so I have the bones, skin and giblets (as long as they come in a small plastic bag in the cavity
    9. Wild blueberries
    10. Cauliflower or asparagus, I can’t decide.

    Lila wrote on June 14th, 2011
  34. Loren C does mention red wine so that’s paleo enough for me. And I’m not thoroughly strict so butter and bacon still in. Sockeye is my fav salmon. I’m in the Pac NW. I saw those Okinawan sweet potatoes at the green grocer today so next time cn get em.

    Violette wrote on June 14th, 2011
  35. Very cool post

    Aaron wrote on June 14th, 2011
  36. Hey Mark…

    I buy ribeyes like that all the time but havnt found the best way to cook it medium rare….the cut is so thick I cant get it right…you have recommendations?

    I usually char the outside and inside is rare.

    Any suggestions would be welcome…the cut is usually 4 inches thick with bone in.



    Frank wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • OK, we cook these where I work but no way are the 4″ thick! That would be 2 or 3 rib bones…
      Either way, “low & slow”. I’m assuming you are grilling, so what I would do is cook it as far away from the flame or the flame as low as possible. You can use an old (metal) pie tin or cake pan & put it over the steak. That’s how we grill them in the restaurant. Ours are about 22oz w/bone & I would say they are about 1.5in thick (lookin at a ruler)

      peggy wrote on June 15th, 2011
  37. 1. wild salmon (and I have one in my freezer too)
    2. Irish butter
    3. grass-fed beef
    4. syrah
    5. dark chocolate, not particular about brand – even home-made fudge
    6. fresh, organic strawberries
    7. fresh, organic mangos
    8. organic, mixed greens and herb mix
    9. organic avocados
    10. organic carrots for crunch

    hiker wrote on June 14th, 2011

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