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

ribeyeIf 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. I. Love. This. Post. This is SO much fun. You’re great at parties, Mark, aren’t you?

    Dana wrote on June 25th, 2011
  2. Assuming seasonings as per Mark, I assume the following: unrefined sea salt, whole peppercorns, stevia, fresh ginger, cocoa, vanilla, tamari, basil, oregano, flat parsley, cumin, cinnamon, rosemary, turmeric, peppermint, spearmint, bay leaf, mustard seed, chili, cloves… these are minimum needed for flavoring foods for variety. I actually have many more seasonings but could live without most, these being the necessities.

    Then the foods…

    1. raw pastured milk (includes yogurt and simple soft cheeses which I make)
    2. pastured eggs
    3. pastured beef (which includes bone broth)
    4. alliums (one word encompassing numerous yummy veggies)
    5. coffee
    6. raw pastured cream (which includes butter, cream fraiche, half-and-half, and ice cream)
    7. tomatoes
    8. coconut
    9. Diet Pepsi (yeah, I know it’s crap, but it’s MINE)
    10. Endangered Species Chocolate Sea Turtle Bar (72% dark chocolate with blueberries) – you guys can keep your Lindt, mine has blueberries!

    On the above diet, what I’d miss most…
    1. pork (especially bacon)
    2. raw hard cheeses
    3. bell peppers (all colors != green)
    4. mushrooms
    5. artichokes
    6. avocados
    7. sugar snap peas and snow peas
    8. Romano green beans
    9. melons (all types)
    10. all berries (especially blueberries and mulberries)
    11. chicken broth (I’d miss that worse than meat, it’s my favorite broth)
    12. both raw and braising greens (all lettuces except iceberg, radicchio, kale, swiss chard, rapini, collards, mustard greens, EXCEPT spinach which is horrid stuff)
    13. cabbages of all sorts – green, savoyed, red, bok choy, napa
    13. nut butters (especially pecan, macadamia and pistachio)
    14. wines (Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay)
    15. citrus fruits – I crave them for a month or two, then don’t eat them for a year, but in ten years, I’d be wanting some
    16. pasta & bread (could live without rice forever though) – rarely eat them, but miss them even NOW after only 20 years mostly without them…

    jpatti wrote on July 1st, 2011
  3. Glad someone mentioned pemmican. It seems to be the natural food for explorers, and if I were limited to one food, that would be it.

    Another one I would throw in would be kippers. Not for everyday, but it makes a nice tangy treat.

    Does no one have concerns about cruciferous vegetables? Chris Masterjohn has, or certainly used to have. I’ve not checked recently to see if he’s revised his opinions.

    A couple of links. The 2nd one is to an article by CM. the first one refers to it and makes additional comments:-

    http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/07/should-we-eat-raw-crucifers.html

    http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/crucifers.html

    Mike Ellwood wrote on July 6th, 2011
  4. Apologies: My previous link to the Masterjohn article no longer works. This one works:

    http://www.westonaprice.org/abcs-of-nutrition/177-bearers-of-the-cross

    I’m not sure if it’s the identical article or a related one. It’s from Feb 2008.

    Mike Ellwood wrote on July 6th, 2011
  5. 1) Bacon (I have always said, if terrorists ate bacon they wouldn’t be so angry)
    2) Guacamole (the recipe my grandpa makes)
    3) Pineapples
    4) Eggs (scrambled in coconut oil or fried in bacon grease)
    5) All kinds of Steak
    6) Too many types of sausage and salami (I know most sausage and all salami isn’t paleo though, but I can’t resist)
    7) Raw Spinach with Olive Oil and Vinegar!
    8) Bananas
    9) Shrimp, Crab, Lobster, etc… (I just love seafood. I ate when they ruin it by frying it!)
    10) Pork Ribs

    Craig wrote on July 6th, 2011
  6. Salmon Skin + Me = the sexiest love affair of the century! Hm, ten foods I cannot live with out…
    1. Salmon (ALL PARTS – skin, flesh, belly, collar, sashimi cut, etc)
    2. Spaghetti Squash
    3. Butternut Squash
    4. Eel
    5. Hamachi Kama
    6. Spinach
    7. Eggs
    8. Olive Oil
    9. Ground Ostrich, Elk, Beef, Bison or Venison
    10. Green Beans

    http://www.youtube.com/laleapfrogging

    GiGi wrote on July 18th, 2011
  7. My list would be:

    1) Grass fed beef
    2) Bacon
    3) Coconut (in all forms)
    4) Strawberries
    5) Mangoes
    6) Onions
    7) Sweet potatoes
    8) Raw spinach
    9) Free range organic eggs
    10) Lobster

    Honorable mentions are grass fed butter, wild trout, chicken (livers especially), goat’s cheese, pine nuts and red bell peppers.

    Windigo wrote on August 5th, 2011
  8. 1. Baked Wild Mackerel
    2. Steamed Kabocha Squash
    3. Avocado
    4. Roasted Turkey Breast
    5. Braised Goat Shanks
    6. Grilled Grass Fed Bison Filet Mignon
    7. Almonds/Almond Butter
    8. Fuji Apple
    9. Tomatoes
    10. Asparagus

    Joe wrote on October 6th, 2011
  9. As a vegetarian, healthy balance is essential as well as yum factor, so here goes.
    Blueberries
    Greek Yogurt
    Quinoa
    Mixed Raw nuts (macadamias,walnuts, almonds, cashews and brazil nuts)
    Eggs
    Coconut milk
    Sweet potatoes
    Brocolli
    Chic Peas
    Curry Spices

    Wendy Hamill wrote on November 27th, 2011
  10. This list is so unbelievably perfect! Although I can’t say I’ve had a true bacon-esque salmon skin. Sounds delicious though, I’ll have to perfect that method

    Molly wrote on May 23rd, 2012
  11. My top ten
    1) Eggs
    2) Bacon
    3) Sardines
    4) Coconut oil
    5)Frozen berries
    6)Double cream
    7)Coffee
    8)Lindt 90% chocolate
    9)Rib eye steak
    10)chicken breast

    tems wrote on December 11th, 2012
  12. I must admit… I do greek yogurt with almond butter and blueberries (sometimes dark chocolate shavings), but I guess your mixture will do!

    Ben wrote on January 2nd, 2013
  13. GiGi’s Food Machine =
    1. Salmon Belly/Skin (extra thick just like you!)
    2. Grass-Fed Ground Beef
    3. Grass-Fed Ground Elk
    4. Grass-Fed Ground Ostrich
    5. Hamachi Kama
    6. Eel
    7. Spaghetti Squash
    8. Butternut Squash
    9. Spinach
    10. Green Beans (I am obsessed with these suckers)

    GiGi wrote on January 19th, 2013
  14. I just thought of something. Of all the times I have walked through the woods, I have never seen broccoli growing.

    mikey wrote on December 19th, 2013
  15. OKay, so In the article Mark mentions “The Food Machine”.
    I am not getting that reference?
    Does he mean us, the human body?

    John Pilla wrote on April 14th, 2014
  16. I’m late to the party but I love this!

    1) Lamb. All the time. All the ways. Obsessed.
    2) Grass-fed butter
    3) Cheese
    4) Strawberries
    5) Avocado
    6) Broccoli
    7) Sweet potatoes
    8) Shellfish (Is this cheating? Oh well.)
    9) Bacon
    10) Eggs

    I’m going to pretend beverages and booze don’t count. Pickles almost made but eggs defeated them. Other runners-up include spinach, tomatoes, garlic, olives and salmon.

    Kat wrote on June 2nd, 2014
  17. My all time favourite MDA post! Although I admit choosing 10 foods would be very difficult. Bacon, liver, dark chocolate (not the supermarket variety, but this http://www.chocolatiers.co.uk/products/pralus-chuao since I assume money is no object :), raw honey, olive oil…The list goes on and on

    To my question, just out of curiosity, have you calculated the macro nutrition profile (ie % fat, protein, carbs) of this list, assuming a standard (as in primal standard) serving size?

    Cheers Mark!
    Mike from UK

    Michael wrote on July 18th, 2014

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