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. Here’s my list (no order):

    1. Grass-fed beef
    2. Eggs
    3. G&B’s 85% dark choc
    4. Cherries
    5. Sweet Potatoes
    6. Spinach
    7. Silverbeet (Swiss Chard)
    8. Cream
    9. Good Cheese
    10. Nuts

    Angie wrote on June 14th, 2011
  2. 1. Marinated Kangaroo Steaks
    2. Sweet potato
    2. Kale
    3. Blueberries
    4. Coconut milk
    5. Coconut oil
    6. Almonds
    7. Wild Salmon
    8. Any kind of pork (belly, rinds)
    9. Bacon
    10. Dark chocolate
    and 11 – Red wine

    That list was kinda hard, because I basically only survive on items 1-7, items 8-10/11 are only very very occsaional!

    Siouxie wrote on June 14th, 2011
  3. Hamburger (saturated fats + protein), sugar snap peas, cheese, olives, and skin-on peanuts (sorry! I am a legume boy!@) & raw vegetables for the savory enzyme therapy.

    Iluvatar wrote on June 14th, 2011
  4. I couldn’t live with those:

    1. Pork
    2. Eggs
    3. Cheese
    4. Tomatoes
    5. Cherries
    6. Chilli peppers
    7. fullfat milk
    8. Shrimps
    9. Butter

    Franco wrote on June 14th, 2011
    • Of course it must read “WITHOUT THOSE”!

      Franco wrote on June 14th, 2011
  5. Plant matter is a luxury

    Ground Beef
    Jimmy Dean Sausage
    Smoked Pork Chops
    Smoked Sausage
    Hot Dogs
    Vienna Sausages

    Kevin Cowart wrote on June 14th, 2011
  6. 1. grass-fed beef
    2. organic heavy cream
    3. spinach
    4. lox
    5. coconut oil/whole nuts
    6. farm eggs
    7. raw almonds
    8. blueberries
    9. tangerines
    10. beer

    DThalman wrote on June 14th, 2011
  7. Hi all, not that I have anything against the Greek , and not that i want to begin a discussion topic, but the yoghurt is Turkish, originally. Check out the origins of he word Yoghurt.
    Cheers :)

    Mustafa Korkut wrote on June 15th, 2011
  8. Bison, eggs, raw milk, broccoli, berries. lighter load I get there quicker and start farming.

    Dasbutch wrote on June 15th, 2011
  9. I got hungry just reading that. Macadamia Nuts are my favorite, I eat it in large amounts every day. I have to agree, I couldn’t live without any of those things either, well I could probably live without butter since I don’t really like the taste.

    Tatianna wrote on June 15th, 2011
  10. Like the list, Mark, but personally I’d have to sub broccoli rabe (aka rapini) for the spinach. By far my favorite green vegetable! (just please tell me garlic and olive oil are assumed and not part of the actual food list — I mean, c’mon!).

    pocopelo wrote on June 15th, 2011
  11. 1. Meat with Bacon
    2. Meat with Fat
    3. Meat with Butter
    4. more Meat with Bacon Fat and Butter
    5. more Meat…
    6. …

    Arty wrote on June 15th, 2011
  12. Lamb & Curcumin!

    Evolutionarily wrote on June 15th, 2011
  13. About the salmon skin, I can’t seem to get mine crispy. Does anyone have any cooking tips on how to make it less soggy and more bacon-like? Also does anyone have a recipe for bone broth?

    Jenny Stewart wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • ghee…low heat… let it cook.

      Dasbutch wrote on June 15th, 2011
  14. Need good sources for chicken livers! Any ideas? Also sources for some of the other goodies would be great. 😉

    Patti wrote on June 15th, 2011
  15. 1.Coconut – gonna multi purpose this for all it’s worth. I love the stuff.
    2. Steak
    3. Cream
    4. Spinach
    5. Eggs
    6. Tea – not really a food but I act like a grandma and drink like 5 cups a day.
    7. Almonds – also going to use these for every purpose under the sun.
    8. Squash – probably Kabocha if I had to choose just one. (So much more delicious than yams imo!)
    9. Berries – any.
    10. Bell peppers/Mushrooms… I’m so torn.
    A super interesting post would be which seasonings we can’t do without!

    Nia wrote on June 15th, 2011
  16. Texas Sweet Potatoes. Orange goodness, with lots of salted butter on them. Yum. See some of my Grok food photos here (some are admittedly not Grocky!)

    patrick larson wrote on June 15th, 2011
  17. My list has to include slow-cooked beef barbacoa and pulled pork. In the slow cooker! Yum.

    patrick larson wrote on June 15th, 2011
  18. Agreed on the salmon skin! I love it..and people pull a face when I say I love salmon with the skin left on!

    My top ten…

    1. Really good coffee
    2. Really good dark chocolate
    3. Berries, pretty much any type..but strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are my favourite..having these top 3 together? Heaven!
    4. Bacon!
    5. Definitely salmon with the skin on..fried to a crispy perfection.
    6. Plain yogurt, either over 3% fat or the full fat Greek…I have this almost every morning over berries.
    7. Delicious rib eye steaks
    8. Sea salt and pepper
    9. Fruit favourites..a pineapple wine from Washington and a local winery that makes Strawberry wine in Fort Langley.
    10. Broccoli favourite veggie!

    Jennifer wrote on June 15th, 2011
  19. My 10:

    organic eggs
    grass-fed butter
    butternut squash
    grass-fed ground beef
    pastured chicken breasts
    shoulder of pork (for pernil)

    Paula wrote on June 15th, 2011
  20. I’ll play:

    1. Wild Sockeye Salmon
    2. Coconut(all forms)
    3. Avocado
    4. Blueberries
    5. Chocolate(all forms)
    6. Pastured eggs
    7. Kale
    8. Broccoli
    9. Olives(all forms)
    10. Sourkraut

    ** Bonus Yerba mate/chaga tea

    Matt wrote on June 15th, 2011
  21. Have to say I would go with your list but would swap lambs liver for the ribeye!

    Jayne wrote on June 15th, 2011
  22. Not in any particular order….

    1. All parts of coconut
    2. Blueberries
    3. Rib eye steak
    4. Bacon
    5. Eggs
    6. Cocoa Camino 80% dark chocolate or Green and Blacks 85% dark chocolate
    7. Greek style yogurt
    8. Sweet potatoes
    9. Spinach
    10. Organic aged white cheddar

    Honorable mentions…

    Sulfur free dried Mission Figs
    Berries in all shapes and sizes
    Halibut and salmon
    Organic cream
    Unpasteurized wildflower honey

    Wow it is actually hard to pick out my favorites but that definitely sums it up :)

    Sorry Mark but I have lived on the West Coast my whole life, my families were avid ocean fishermen, and I have never touched the skin of a salmon…. the whole idea grosses me out, lol.

    Mary wrote on June 15th, 2011
  23. grapefruit!

    whiteblackred wrote on June 15th, 2011
  24. Living in northern Wisconsin, my local fare would include:

    * free range chicken thighs/legs
    * grass fed bone-in ribeye
    * venison tenderloin and heart
    * wild blueberries
    * wild asparagus
    * lightly smoked fresh brook trout
    * wild raspberries
    * free range eggs
    * fresh watercress
    * fried walleye pike

    Patrick Weber wrote on June 15th, 2011
  25. With multiple food intolerances, this blog was not only fun, but the foods you mentioned all passed my intolerant criteria! :)

    ~m wrote on June 15th, 2011
  26. Great Post!

    I love all those foods you mentioned. Except blackberries haha. I love pretty much everyother food except blackberries. (blueberries and rasberries are my favorite)

    Glad you mentioned sweet potatoes. My favorite food. Probably wouldn’t be able to be full primal without yams.

    Also kale would be a good addition to that list. One of the most nutrient dense foods on this planet.

    Greg - Kinobody Fitness Systems wrote on June 15th, 2011
  27. This list is FTW! Right on target! Except, I could do without the butter. Dairy, as I’ve found out, isn’t really my friend whilst being primal… then again, Dairy and I weren’t BFFs to begin with; she gets along with my sister, who’s also primal.

    Miss*Kris:primal wrote on June 15th, 2011
  28. Great post & premise Mark, what Fun! I’m pretty much down with your list, however I gotta figure out where to slide in (&what to replace) COCONUT (nuts for all things coconut) & Avocado! Oh & lest I forget…Tequila…a Great 100 % Agave smooth, sipping sip neat or in a Nor Cal Margarita..or even better TRY this: 1.5 oz Topo Chico Sparkling Water (Perrier on Steroids), 1.5 oz Tequila (Blanco or Reposado), lime & lemon wedge & 2 slices of fresh jalapeno (w seeds). Shaken over ice, not stirred. Salud! :)

    Jared wrote on June 15th, 2011
  29. No bacon? Uncured bacon is what satisfies me the most when I am absolutely craving junk food. Knowing that one of my meals during the day can be bacon is just enough to see me through.

    Tom wrote on June 15th, 2011
  30. 1. most seafood
    2. leafy greens
    3. berries
    4. nuts
    5. eggs
    6. plain yogurt
    7. coconuts
    8. avocado
    9. 100% dark cacao (nothing added)
    10. chicken (with the skin on. lol)

    Laura wrote on June 15th, 2011
  31. Omg, I’m so with you, Mark, on the bone-in ribeye! I just wish more butchers carried the grass-fed kind.

    Carrol wrote on June 15th, 2011
  32. While you don’t talk about it in your books I find it interesting that everything in your list of top 10 is Kosher. Just a thought that stuck out at me while reading your post. ~Jon

    Jon Frank wrote on June 15th, 2011
  33. halibut, blueberries,walnuts,grass fed beef london broil,spanish,organic eggs,organic sweet potatoes, Broccoli,onions and red peppers

    Daniel wrote on June 15th, 2011
  34. Filet mignon
    Ahi Tuna
    Blue cheese
    Heavy cream
    Red wine

    I’m with Adrian on the diet-wild-cherry-pepsi thing. I didn’t even drink soda til someone turned me onto it recently. No, not remotely healthy and I don’t drink it often but that stuff is gooood.

    Karen wrote on June 15th, 2011
  35. I’m probably being dense–hey, I’m a relative newbie–but these lists seem to involve an awful lot of dairy. I thought the idea was to generally avoid dairy, and definitely ixnay on potatoes and other super-carb veggies? Enlighten me.

    Elizabeth wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • Generally, there are a couple things that separate Paleo and Primal (Mark’s coined term for his bluebrint). Mark encourages the educated use of dairy (just as long as you can tolerate it), super dark chocolate and wine. The idea is though some of these calories aren’t pure ‘paleo’ they have good fatty acid profiles and nutrition and are ok in small doses. And more importantly it can make the diet more doable. As far as potatoes go, white potatoes (because of their glycemic rating of nearly 100) are discouraged if you’re going to lose weight, but sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables are healthy and encouraged in a balanced primal diet.

      Jeff wrote on June 16th, 2011
  36. I like to make my own Greek yogurt from fresh, raw, non-homogenized, grass fed locally grown Jersey cows. I culture the milk then strain it through cheese cloth for a few hours. I keep the whey and use that for smoothies, or just drink it, it’s delicious.
    Lately my yogurt has been turning out really grainy, I don’t know why. It’s not as creamy as store bought but surely better for me. I use the Brown Cow cream on top yogurt as a starter.
    I tried blending it in a blender to smooth it out, and it was still a bit “textured”. My Greek yogurt is coming out more like a ricotta cheese than yogurt but I prefer it like lebneh.
    If anyone out there is a yogurt lover with experience with that, let me know if you have any tips.

    Eman wrote on June 15th, 2011
  37. I love that Sockeye is #1. It is an amazing food in several ways. Mark didn’t mention that it is also a rich source of astaxanthin, a very powerful antioxidant. The Copper River run are especially fatty and almost melt in the mouth when cooked in the microwave. If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life this would be it.

    Cannot go 10 years without a salad, and no salad is complete without bell peppers and cucumber. Oil, garlic and vinegar are for the salad dressing.

    1) Copper River sockeye
    2) Okinawan sweet potatoes
    3) Broccoli
    4) Red peppers
    5) English cucumber
    6) Red leaf lettuce
    7) Macadamia nut oil
    8) Onions
    9) Garlic
    10)Apple cider vinegar

    Don wrote on June 15th, 2011
  38. This one post has given me hope! Thanks so much.

    Julie wrote on June 15th, 2011
  39. This is a great topic and a great list! Here’s mine with a few changes:

    1) Steak grilled with real wood/charcoal.
    2) Greens cooked in Garlic and EVOO (Collards, Arugula, Escarole, or any other veggies picked fresh from my garden).
    3) Eggs
    4) Raw Milk (esp Jersey)
    5) Tuna
    6) Pecans (also almonds and walnuts)
    7) Blueberries (also strawberries and blackberries)
    8) Chicken
    9)Ground Turkey, lean
    10) Peppers and Onions

    The Primal Commuter wrote on June 15th, 2011

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