Superficial observers of the ever-growing Primal movement  often assume us to be a bunch loin-clothed Luddites, but, generally speaking, we aren’t paleo-romaticists  eschewing all things new. In fact, many of us are nerds, technophiles, and gadget freaks that embrace the digital age. Sure, instead of slumping in a chair with Cheeto dust ‘staches, we’re constructing makeshift standup workstations  with lard-slicked  lips, but computers are still a part of our lives. Today’s post is about highlighting the tools that enable better Primal living through technology. There are some good ones out there, some new, some old and largely unnoticed, but all deserve a good hard look.
The Foodee Project
The Foodee Project is the brainchild of CrossFit Southwest  owner Matthew Lucas, who, after fielding recurring questions from clients interested in Primal eating but clueless about what to cook, decided to create a simple resource cataloguing the best Paleo and Primal recipes on the web. Rather than overwhelm folks with hundreds of bookmarked recipes like a fanatic (you know you’ve been there, and you know how it doesn’t always go over too well), Matthew figured he’d give them the tools to discover new recipes on their own. So he did. Foodee is the result.
Matthew’s Foodee blog  is cool enough, drawing on the vast resources of the paleosphere to post a new recipe each day, but the best part of the operation is the flagship Foodee tool  itself. It lets users search a single database comprising hundreds of Primal-friendly recipes from dozens of Primal/paleo blogs, and if you sign up for a free account, you can save recipes to lists, create itemized shopping lists using the automatic “Itemize” tool, and print, save, and email recipes and shopping lists. I’m really impressed with the site, especially the automatic itemization tool. After browsing all the features and getting acclimated to it, I spent two, maybe three minutes to produce a complete shopping list for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners broken down into sections, including “Dairy” (which includes eggs), “Meat Department,” “Produce,” “Oils/Sauces,” “Spices/Herbs”, and “Canned/Jarred Items.” I used the email button to send it to myself and all I had to do was open up my phone in the store and pull up the email. No copying, pasting, or scribbling required.
Matthew is very clear on giving the authors credit for their recipes; when you select a recipe summary for more info, you’re directed to the external blog post responsible for the recipe. That way, the folks creating the content – the bloggers – get linkbacks and more readers, while Foodee users get more ideas for Primal and paleo recipes .
The Foodee beta just went live last week, with even more features to come (and a few minor bugs still to iron out). Sign up for a free account and give it a shot.
At last year’s PrimalCon , we tried to create an environment of inspiration. I figured that the more people saw that they weren’t alone in avoiding grains , legumes , sugar , vegetable oils , shoes , treadmills , and faulty Conventional Wisdom , the more they’d realize that going Primal  isn’t a fringe lifestyle. Plus, when you’re surrounded by exuberant shirtless adults leaping, bounding, lifting, running, and stuffing their faces with grass-fed meat , it’s tough not to get inspired. One attendee, Kristin Jekielek, got inspired in an entirely unexpected way, though. While she expected to simply see a bunch of people from all walks of life living Primal, she didn’t expect that the vast majority of the attendees were self-employed entrepreneurs carving out a great life on their own terms. She was impressed and inspired to do the same.
So, less than one year later, having traveled out of state for work and felt totally helpless at the lack of Paleo/Primal options in chain restaurants , she’s created PaleoGoGo , an iPhone app designed to keep you “paleo-ish” in the wild. Its incredibly simple and effective:
1. Search for a restaurant. Over 300 of the nation’s (US only) top chain restaurants are cataloged thus far.
2. Pick a mealtime: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or (depending on the restaurant) Snack.
3. Pick a paleo-ish meal. Each mealtime will have up to three meal options.
4. Eat relatively guilt free!
If you’re frequently on the road having to resort to questionable gas station jerky, or maybe you just want to support a fellow Primal entrepreneur, give PaleoGoGo a serious look. Oh, and you should probably have an iPhone (unless you REALLY want to support the cause). There’s also a Facebook page and an Android version coming in the first half of this year.
Are you Paleo? Primal? Do you worship at the shrine of Weston A. Price (hey, I can think of a lot worse)? Or do you just like meat, seafood, or the occasional veggie, and lots of it, but are having trouble coming up with new ways to stuff it into your oral cavity? Then check out Chowstalker , a relatively new traditional/Primal/ancestral food recipe aggregator. Recipes are broken up by “Beef,” “Lamb,” “Game Meats,” “Pork,” “Seafood,” “Poultry,” “Offal,” “Eggs,” “Cheese/Dairy,” “Vegetables,” “Mushrooms,” “Coconut,” and “Other.” You can also divide recipes according to “Special Diet”; included are Whole30, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Nightshade-Free, Gluten-Free, and even Vegetarian.
If you want to submit a recipe to Chowstalker, it must be blog-based, it has to include good photos, and it cannot include grains, legumes, added sugars, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, or trans fats. It cannot be dessert. Also: no cupcakes allowed, even the non-grainiest, non-glutenist, almond meal-rific kind. As they say right there in plain language, “We don’t do cupcakes.” John Durant  would be proud.
If you ever visit the Immortality Institute forums, you’ll probably see the word CRON-O-Meter mentioned. CRON-O-Meter  is a free, open source, software based program designed to help you track calories, micronutrients (including vitamins and minerals), macronutrients (including specific amino acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates) while plotting your intake against the current calorie restricted diet guidelines. So yes, it’s meant for folks obsessed with restricting calories for the purposes of life extension, meaning if you’re bulking up and consuming 4000 calories, mostly meat, the CRONometer might flash red and attempt to self destruct from all the methionine you’re eating, but pay no attention and worry not. I’m not big into counting calories or tracking nutrients, but if you are, CRON-O-Meter is a good way to do it. Eat half a pound of beef liver and see your retinol intake skyrocket a thousand percent!
It draws on the latest USDA databases for nutritional info, so while nutrient content of various foods is notoriously hard to pin down with razor sharp accuracy, you’re getting the best info widely available. CRON-O-Meter is still in beta (and has been for years), but it seems complete enough. Take a look for yourself and see what you think.
Low Carb iPhone App
Reader and developer Renee Backe has just released a new iPhone app  that makes following popular low-carb blogs easier than ever. The Low Carb iPhone App (I like the no-nonsense name, personally) lets you track Dr. Eades, Jimmy Moore, MDA, Low-Carb Gal, plus a number of l0w-carb recipe sites. It makes for easy access to reading material while out and about, waiting at the doctor’s office, or stuck in line, and the app also provides valuable recipe ideas if you’re ever at the store without a clue as to what to make or buy.
Fumbling through web sites on my phone or flipping through blog readers gets annoying. Maybe I just need to improve my thumb mobility (I knew I shoulda included that in the series last year), or maybe I need to stop worrying about reading blogs when I’m out. Ha – like that’s ever gonna happen.
Safe Seafood iPhone App
Safe Seafood  is a 99 cent iPhone app that provides safety ratings for commercial seafood. If you want to see whether that piece of farmed tilapia from Vietnam is safe to eat, type it in. If you want to see whether farmed mussels from New Zealand are worth eating, look it up. It’s an extremely handy tool that any iPhone-toting fish-eater should have at his or her disposal. The only downside is that Safe Seafood hasn’t been updated since 2008, but I imagine the ratings still hold up fairly well.
I was trying to decide between the Monterey Bay Aquariums “Seafood Watch” app and the Safe Seafood app. I went with the latter after reading  how its creator, Tobin Fisher, incorporated the data from Seafood Watch when gathering content for Safe Seafood. Plus, the fact that Fisher gave positive “Green” ratings only to seafood that was low in contaminants and industrial toxins while Seafood Watch focused purely on the environmental sustainability of a particular seafood pushed Safe Seafood over the top.
You know what? Seafood Watch is free, so you’re not losing anything by giving it a shot, too.
Sleep Cycle iPhone App
This is a really cool one. Instead of butting in on your peaceful, deep sleep whenever it wants with a quacking duck, the “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back, or a horrible bleating alarm, the Sleep Cycle iPhone app  claims to analyze your sleep cycle throughout the night by tracking your movement patterns and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase. See, when we sleep, we go through different phases, and each phase is accompanied by varying degrees of bodily movement. The Sleep Cycle app uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to track these movement phases so it “knows” the depth of your current cycle. You give the app a 30 minute wake-up window – like, say, between 6:30 and 7:00 AM – and by tracking your movement patterns it will wake you up within that time frame during the lightest phase of sleep.
Or so the story goes.
I’ve trained myself to wake up without an alarm clock , but I got a couple of the Worker Bees to give the app a shot. It’s got tons of great reviews, but I wanted to see if it actually worked. Their consensus? It works pretty darn well. It appears to wake you up when you’re prepared to wake up. You know how there are those mornings where you wake up on your own and everything feels right and you have energy and bounce out of bed? The Sleep Cycle app, while not magic or a definite sure thing, should give you a much better chance at getting an excellent wake up experience. I’d much rather entrust my morning wake-up to this intuitive, “smart” app than to an authoritarian, callous alarm clock. At only 99 cents, it seems like a good bet for a Primal eater trying to get better, more Primal sleep, too.
See? While we often focus on the downsides of modern living, the upsides are magnificent and, rather than contradicting or opposing our Primal lifestyles, they can be extremely conducive to species-appropriate living. After all, they’re just tools, and toolmaking is what we do best.
What are you favorite tools, sites, or apps? Let me know about any Primal-friendly high-tech tools I may have missed!