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. Just did my own list and I can’t believe I left off avo and asparagus! Mine are: bacon, eggs, spinach, walnuts, cream, berries, leaves, lamb chops, chicken and spinach.

    Charlotte wrote on June 15th, 2011
  2. Here’s my top 10…is it too obvious how much I love fatty foods?

    1. Pastured eggs
    2. Macadamia nuts
    3. Avocados
    4. Spinach
    5. Dark chocolate, 70% minimum
    6. Wild Alaskan salmon
    7. Broccoli
    8. Brussels Sprouts
    9. Coconuts
    10. Bok choy

    Reiko wrote on June 15th, 2011
  3. I just moments ago finished making grass-fed jersey butter, given me by my very generous grass fed jersey cow, Daisy. Daisy’s a doll. And I have 1/2 a gallon of yogurt from her milk cooking in the yogurt maker as we speak. I strain it overnight through sack cloth, and no greek yogurt anywhere can touch it for flavor and texture!

    I love this life :)

    Ange wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • Yes! That’s the way. But tell me does your yogurt turn out smooth and creamy because mine is coming out grainy….see my comment above. I have no idea why it’s turning out so cheesy.

      Eman wrote on June 15th, 2011
  4. Bone in ribeye gets you bones for bone broth anyway… You could also use salmon bones for broth too.

    I Run For Bacon wrote on June 15th, 2011
  5. I’ve got one no one has mentioned: A large supply of Himalayan Crystal Salt. So good and so good for you!

    Johnny B wrote on June 15th, 2011
  6. Ah ha, but you wouldn’t have to give up the bone broth, just save up a bunch of your ribeye bones & make it!

    Tina wrote on June 15th, 2011
  7. Cowboy cut ribeye for sure. I had one last nite and it was soooo good.

    Steve k wrote on June 15th, 2011
  8. Duck eggs
    Tea bone steak
    Baby tomatoes
    Potatoes with LOADS of butter
    Roast lamb
    Onions (including spring onions& garlic)

    patrick wrote on June 15th, 2011
  9. Awesome post – it’s very hard to keep it to 10 though! All organic/best quality and in no particular order…

    – Eggs
    – Almonds (from which I can make almond meal, butter, or just have a crunchy snack).
    – Raspberries
    – Creme Fraiche (potential to make butter and cheese from this. It contains probiotics, and I can use it to make other meals i.e. pancakes, smoothies, or berries and cream.)
    – Wild Alaskan Salmon
    – Dark Chocolate (minimum 85%)
    – Venison (I love the flavour of this red meat more so than beef or lamb)
    – Chicken
    – Avocado
    – Lettuce

    Honorable Mentions…
    – Lemons
    – Bacon
    – Carrots
    – Red Pepper
    – Kale
    – Spinach

    Kate wrote on June 15th, 2011
  10. What is the ‘Food Machine” referenced under the purple sweet potatoes?

    deb b wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • The Food Machine is an imaginary machine that creates any Earth-based food from scratch (first paragraph) :)

      Reiko wrote on June 15th, 2011
  11. avocados
    sashimi grade ahi
    carrot-celery-parsley-red bell pepper juice
    nutritional yeast
    goat cheese (no, milk – I will make butter, yogurt and cheese)

    michelle wrote on June 15th, 2011
  12. Mark’s entry for Broccoli got me thinking: meat juice.

    I often roast lamb in the oven (covered in tin foil), and it always comes out in a pool of liquid (mostly water and fat I presume), it rarely looks appetizing and I kept thinking it might have a bunch of oxidized PUFAs in it, so I always drain it down the sink. But now I can see it making a tasty dip perhaps (I remember family members dipping bread in it during family lunches/dinners when I was young)

    Ahmad wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • I always save mine and stick it in the fridge. Gives me decent-sized layers of high quality meat broth and fat, which I scrape off and use for rubbing on the next piece of meat I intend to cook.
      I think it’s safe to use the fat again if you slow-cook your meat at low temps. I’m hesitant to do it at high temps, but I’d still save the broth!

      Reiko wrote on June 15th, 2011
    • Traditionally, in our household (and probably most other British households), the juices from the “Sunday roast” would be used to make the gravy (perhaps together with some of the vegetable water).

      Any remaining fat would be saved, and used during the week to spread on bread (“bread and dripping”).

      These days, with meat being generally less fatty, there seems to be little enough for the Sunday, let alone to save for the rest of the week.

      But throwing away one’s meat juices and fat is a terrible waste.

      Mike Ellwood wrote on July 6th, 2011
  13. Great list. Eating sure is simple and enjoyable with these basic primal foods, huh?

    My list:

    1. Wild Venison backstraps
    2. Wild ducks
    3. Sokeye Salmon
    4. Wild ruffed grouse (for white meat)
    5. Blueberries
    6. Asparagus
    7. Sweet Potatoes
    8. Raw Jersey Cream
    9. Pastured eggs
    10. Broccoli

    I might sneak some coffee in the water barrels!

    Mountainduck wrote on June 15th, 2011
  14. I’d be pretty happy with your list, but I might make a tweek or trade or two.

    Salmon is a good choice for taste, but if I could only have one, I might substitute sardines for nutrition. If I can have any steak I want, I think it would take grass fed WAGYU ribeye because of greatest fat marbling. Grass fed ghee would eliminate some milk solids. Acai is lower in carbs and high in omega3, so I might want that for my purple berry. Again, for lower carbs, I’d go with pumpkin instead of sweet potato. My biggest struggles would be choosing either coconut kefir or aged grass fed cheese over greek yogurt, and perhaps avocados or olives over macnuts. There doesn’t look like anything I could trade Dagoba 100% cacao chocolate for on the list of ten.

    As I said, I also be happy with your list.

    Kala Nui wrote on June 15th, 2011
  15. WOW>>>>
    I have loved reading everyones tops!! YUMMY!
    I think mine would be very similar except if you live or vist Phoenix you gotta try Crows Dairy goat cheese! amazing family! amazing cheese! they hand poor the milk and it has no “bucky” flavor! it is heaven!

    Felicia wrote on June 15th, 2011
  16. Great list! After having grass fed cultured butter, I can never go back to just organic. I think more people would enjoy vegetables if they would let themselves enjoy real butter.

    Kara Sorensen wrote on June 15th, 2011
  17. I can’t decide on my 10 foods, but after reading all these posts, I know what’s for dinner: a NorCal margarita and bacon!

    emme wrote on June 15th, 2011
  18. Just quickly and off the top of my head:

    1. grass-fed raw cream/butter

    2. Kale

    3. Some cut of grass-fed beef (guess I’m not picky)


    5.Coconut (flakes,oil, milk, flour)

    6.Good organic fair trade coffee (this is a luxury of course)

    7.Tuna or salmon

    8.Pastured eggs

    9.Kefir (or some other lacto-fermented food or beverage–sauerkraut, kombucha etc)

    10. dark chocolate if I get one more luxury item–otherwise I’d say spinach.

    Funny–all these things are primarily what I eat anyway. And people wonder what’s left to eat when they cut out sugar and grains :0 All the foods everyone has listed sound absolutely decadent and delish to me:)

    Joy wrote on June 15th, 2011
  19. Well, since I try to grow almost all of my own vegetables, fruits and eggs, I am partial to them.

    But, there is NO QUESTION in my mind what number one is: Home grown heirloom tomatoes from my farm. And please fellow groks, do not refrigerate tomatoes, it saps 99% of the texture, taste and sensory experience of a true tomato.

    1. Tomatoes (mine)
    2. Hot Peppers(and I mean hot, hotter than habeneros)
    3. Farm-grown strawberries
    4. Dark Chocolate
    5. Fine Wine
    6. Salmon, preferably sushi style
    7. Apples (farm-grown)
    8. Peaches (farm grown)
    9. Mulberries (really, right off the tree…yum!)

    10. Dried Seaweed
    11. Mixed nuts

    Dan wrote on June 15th, 2011
  20. My favorite post so far. I’ve been following this site for about a month now… Mark, did you actually write this post or did your editor? Either way, it’s some damn good descriptions of food. Good writing… and I’m a writer :)

    Jennie Walker wrote on June 15th, 2011
  21. I’m worried about the radiation entering our food supply.This diet is rich in foods likely to be the most highly contaminated.Gulf stream goes from japan straight to Alaska so the Alaskan seafood will all be contaminated.Grass fed,contaminated,bone broth,strontium 90 green leafy vegetables,the worst.

    Indigo wrote on June 15th, 2011
  22. Fun article. Oddly enough, I had a tough time finding enough foods that I would want to put on my top 10 for the next 10 yrs.

    1. Bison burgers
    2. Bacon wrapped asparagus
    3. Eggs
    4. Shrimp and fish ceviche
    5. Sweet potato and chorizo soup
    6. Walnut “paleo” brownies
    7. Tea
    8. Avocados
    9. Baby carrots dipped in baba ghanoush
    10. Cinnamon baked pears with cream

    Who needs to go to Mars for this list? That’s practically what I eat all the time anyway. :)

    Jessica wrote on June 15th, 2011
  23. One ripe Organic Hawaiian Papaya.
    Nancy’s Organic Cottage Cheese.
    One ripe Organic Lime.

    Slice the papaya in half, top to bottom.
    Remove the seeds from papaya half.
    Fill the cavity with cottage cheese.
    Squeeze half lime over cottage cheese.

    Enjoy the textures and flavors, sitting in the morning sun, as the sound of the surf breaks near by.

    Follow up with second half.

    European American wrote on June 15th, 2011
  24. I’m a wild salmon addict. But I’ve never once eaten the skin – you’ve convinced me. Naive skin-to-skin question though, do you remove the scales? Seems like the skin would be no problem, wish I’d tried this sooner… but not sure on the scales? I buy the run of the mill wild sockeye filets with skin on one side. One more – I always cook it skin-side down so the Omega-3’s saturate the filet… any suggestions on how to grill this way to keep the skin intact? Thanks :)

    Niki wrote on June 16th, 2011
  25. Great post Mark – I am very pleased with the response by you and everybody else to my original question. I’m absolutely thrilled that you took the time out of your busy schedule to answer the query.

    Jamie wrote on June 16th, 2011
  26. Ring doughnuts – no, wait, let me explain…
    They’ve a low calorie centre, taste great & could you really go 10 years without one?

    Pat wrote on June 16th, 2011
  27. Nice ! Good article, sums up everything you need !

    Andreas wrote on June 16th, 2011
  28. Eman, when you make your yogurt, what do you use for culture? Using a powdered culture could cause graininess. Also, I use milk and cream to do the yogurt, never tried with just cream, I wonder if that could cause a different texture?

    Recipe for yogurt:

    Heat 1 quart of raw milk w/cream to 180 degrees. Cool to 125 degrees. Stir in culture. Place in yogurt maker per makers instructions. I don’t add anything else to mine. Strain through sack cloth for as long as it takes to get your desired text, Usually over night.

    Sweet Cream Butter:

    Allow heavy cream to come to room temp. between 60 and 65 degrees. Place in a food processor, mixer or blender and spin until it separates into butter. Strain off buttermilk through sack or cheese cloth. Wash butter in cold water until water runs clear. Salt if desired. Portion and wrap in wax paper. Can be frozen.

    Ange wrote on June 16th, 2011
    • If you only heat the milk for yogurt to 100-110, it remains raw.

      Doesn’t get quite so thick, but if you’re straining it for Greek anyways, won’t make much difference.

      jpatti wrote on July 1st, 2011
  29. Hey man, you’ve got the bone-in ribeye — you can use that to make bone broth. Just make sure the piece they replicate has a really good bit of bone. :)

    Jenny wrote on June 16th, 2011
  30. I add sesame butter (along with nuts and blueberries/blackberries)to my Greek yogurt and it is to die for.

    Alice Bircher wrote on June 16th, 2011
  31. Coconut Water

    I’m hungry..

    PrimalArturo wrote on June 16th, 2011
  32. Great list!! I’m not sure what I would substitute them for, but my list would not be complete without asparagus, and some type of chocolate. I would need a “top 12”.

    We better upgrade the memory in our food machine…

    Marc wrote on June 16th, 2011
  33. Mark,

    I keep linking to your articles through Lew Rockwell’s blog…I wonder…has he gone primal?

    I like the article!

    Rick wrote on June 16th, 2011
  34. This is tough, but here’s a go at it:

    1. Ribeye Steak
    2. Aged Cheddar Cheese
    3. Kalamata Olives
    4. Bacon
    5. Eggs
    6. Dark Chocolate
    7. Wild Caught Northern Pike
    8. Butter
    9. Asparagus
    10. Pork Sausage

    I hope I could survive on that!! LOL With my ever changing tastes!!

    The Real Food Mama wrote on June 16th, 2011

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