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  • Hot in the Kitchen

    I'm new here. Hi! I'm 28 years old, female, living in Boston (snowing right now, on March 31, grrrrreat - not!) and this is the 6th day of my being primal! Feeling pretty good so far. I'm doing this mainly for weight loss and building strength, but I did have knee surgery very recently and the days of being bed-bound and unable to move freely really were a wake-up call to strive to be in the best health possible. I tore my ACL at the end of January in a skiing accident. Surgery was three weeks ago. Between the injury and the surgery, I spent a lot of time constrained to my couch and while surfing on some food blogs, stumbled onto this site. Recording my ramblings here is likely to add to my motivation. Hope you read on

    Navel-gazing: I don't really look that fat - except when I'm in my bathing suit. Lord praise dark skinny jeans I'm tiny (5'1) but I weigh 133 lb and because of my height, every pound makes a big difference. My BMI is 25.1 so just slightly in the overweight range. When I got my body fat measured at my gym a few months ago it was... 32%. Way high, no? I've seen nutritionists before but never managed to achieve substantial weight loss. I followed CW, low fat everything, no processed food, whole grains, no red meat, no butter, no cream, no avocados (the fat, you know). The weight didn't budge despite calorie restriction. Not too hard to get discouraged and give up, obviously. I blamed my lack of weight loss on insufficient exercise and joined a gym. 1 hour step classes twice a week, body pump once a week (I never managed to up my weight even though everyone around me did and I was always sore for a week afterward), zumba once a week, 30 minute zombie sessions on the elliptical once or twice a week. No cigar, but a horrible feeling of guilt whenever I skipped a workout. The trainer at the gym told me my cardio was insufficient even though by the end of step class, I could water the yard by wringing my shirt. More cardio? How many hours a week am I supposed to spend at the damn gym, anyway? Does the elliptical come with a gun?

    I always had the feeling that there was a simple but elusive answer to the weight loss problem. I was doing everything by the book but the weight stuck - so the book must be wrong! When I stumbled onto MDA, everything just clicked. I haven't weighed myself since starting so I don't know if it's working yet, but I just have this feeling in my gut that it will The scale avoidance is part of my own 30-day challenge. Otherwise, if I step on the scale in a week and see no weight loss, I will lose motivation. I do worry a bit about cholesterol simply because my whole family has high cholesterol. My mom's is the highest even though she never touches red meat, eggs or shellfish and basically just lives on veggies, chicken and olive oil. It's hard to wean yourself off of the Cholesterol Bad mentality.

    The not-so-fun stuff: Exercise. Despite what I wrote above, I actually do enjoy exercise. I used to be pretty active, walking, skiing, salsa. Of course, since the injury, I've been very limited. Any sort of sprinting, interval training, weight-lifting is out, obviously. My knee is healing nicely at the moment but I won't be able to walk properly for a few more weeks and I'm loathe to do anything to jeopardize the recovery. Full recovery could take up to 6 months My physiotherapist has only given the go-ahead for swimming and a stationary bike so far. I don't have access to a pool though and I cancelled my gym membership when I got injured. Maybe I'll get one of those stands that convert bikes to stationary bikes. Anybody know where I can get those for cheap? My cable has some pilates on-demand so I might try that too. Any suggestions from the knowledgable forum members for exercises that won't strain my knee would be greatly appreciated.

    The fun stuff: I LOVE to cook. Love, love, love. In fact, I was considering going to culinary school but ended up in finance. Love to eat too. I was eating CW healthy but I've never been a big bread, rice or pasta person so giving those up to start primal was not too difficult. I was expecting to have cravings for sweet things but haven't had many so far. Throwing away food feels horrible yet I managed to ditch my bottle of canola oil. Am bringing delicious lunches to work and enjoying multi-dish vegetable and meat assortments for dinner. Have to say, it feels so great to be able to put a little butter on my veggies, a spoonful of creme fraiche in my mushroom soup and homemade mayo on my eggs! I'm not sure that my budget will allow me to go for organic/grass fed all the time. Will go to Whole Foods and farmer's markets and do some price checking. There seem to be a lot of things to pay attention to on primal, but I'm trying not to stress. I figure giving up grains and sugar is already a big step and that I shouldn't worry too much about having organic food all the time/ figuring out the omega 6 of every piece of food/ the tiny bit of gluten in the spoonful of soy sauce I used, yes? I've tracked my food intake on fitday.com for the past six days just to get an idea of what I'm eating. So far I average 1200-1600 cals a day and carbs around 80-100g. I assume that's good?

    Fun food facts I've discovered in the past 6 days:

    -Raw cauliflower run through a food processor makes a perfect substitute for rice, especially when topped with my spicy chili.

    -If you have a jar of muhammara, spread it on jicama slices, not on bread.

    -Creme fraiche yummmmm

    -An avocado tastes absolutely divine when you top it with lemon juice and PISTACHIO OIL (a tip from a great cookbook called "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan. Obviously it has a ton of desserts, tarts etc but a lot of the meat and veg recipes can very easily be made primal!)

    -Fresh mint + anything = win. Mint + canned sardines + smoked paprika + homemade mayo = Freaking delicious. (But now I'm reading there's too much BPA in canned sardines. Is nothing safe )

    -Speaking of homemade mayo - I made mine with olive oil (not extra virgin) and it tastes just a bit like grass. Is there a more neutral-flavored primal fat that I can use? Please don't say bacon fat because I don't eat pork. And mac nut & avocado oil cost 12 bucks for a tiny bottle so those are out too.

    -My biggest problem right now is finding a cooking fat suitable for really high heat. I do a lot of Chinese stir-fries and those require very high heat. They are actually healthy/primal if you ditch the cornstarch and batter on the meat. But if you put your stove on at medium and try to stir-fry chicken you'll end up with bland boiled chicken. No go. I also broil a lot. High heat is really essential if you want a good sear and/or quick cooking. Can anybody suggest a fat to use? The coconut oil in the store said it was safe up to 350F. If my oven is turned to broil or to 450F can I use the coconut oil? I used to use canola but that's no longer an option it seems. I would hate to give up high-heat cooking just because i can't find a suitable fat to cook with.

    Wow. I wrote a lot. If you read everything, thanks. I'll be not quite so wordy next time!
    My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

  • #2
    Hello, Ajax!

    Unrefined coconut oil is only safe to 350 degrees, but refined coconut oil is safe to 450 degrees. It doesn't taste like coconuts, either, but I don't know if you can use it for mayo because it's solid at room temperature. In general, refined oils will have much higher smoke points than unrefined oils.

    Ghee is safe to 480 degrees, tallow to 420 degrees...

    ...in theory. Remember that all smoke points are very approximate, and depend on the source food and degree of refining. You've got to try these things yourself, in your own kitchen, and see how they taste to you.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the reply! I thought refined oils were to be avoided due to the high heats generated during the refinery process?
      My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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      • #4
        You want a mechanically refined coconut oil, not a chemical/heat refined version. Mechanically refined coconut oil is fine to use.
        “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

        Owly's Journal

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        • #5
          Day 9 and still going strong! The only non-primal thing I've eaten in these past nine days has been a couple of portions of tofu (had bought it before I went primal and I'm not about to throw perfectly good food away), and one small piece (like 10-15 grams) of chocolate-covered marzipan every day. Feeling very proud of myself for both sticking to the eating plan and managing to avoid the scale I'm especially excited about how exciting it is to eat huge primal meals and be pleasantly full and also being able to occasionally skip breakfast! (Never liked breakfast foods much anyway)

          Did some price-checking at Whole Foods. They have 100% grass-fed ground beef for 6 bucks a pound which is not too bad considering that much lasts me for four days Am surprised by how satiating red meat is. I used to have red meat only once a month when I was on my CW-healthy diet. Ground beef chili might be my new addiction!

          The ground beef I cooked the other day (it was grass-fed) rendered a lot of fat. I drained it into a bowl where it solidified in an hour or so. Not knowing what to do with it, I tossed it. Should I have kept it? Can you use this as a cooking fat? Since it's grass-fed it's supposed to be healthy, no?

          I'm contemplating a cheat meal today. Either pizza or cheesecake. I've been having mild cravings for the past three days. I feel like doing a planned cheat meal once a week or so might be the way to go for me. It'd get those cravings out of my system and strengthen my resolve to not be tempted when I go out to eat. Since I'm so new to primal though, would it totally derail my body's adjustment? Thoughts? What's everyone's experience with cheat meals? Can one cheat meal in an otherwise 95% clean week be super detrimental? (I should also mention that i haven't eaten yet today and the cheat meal will likely be my only meal of the day, so in terms of calories it's unlikely to put me over whatever daily amount I'm supposed to be consuming.)
          My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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          • #6
            Proud to report that I did NOT have a cheat meal yesterday I was considering pizza but instead I had salad and a roasted purple sweet potato (I get these from the farmer's market and they give off the most amazing nutty smell in the oven) with some smoked paprika mayonnaise. The "cheat" ended up being 4 small pieces of dark chocolate. Yesterday's food clocked in at around 1600 calories (fitday), today, 1100.

            Had physiotherapy today. My knee is progressing nicely. Extension and bending are both at around 95% and I'm walking very comfortably. Still can't go up or down stairs the regular way though. I have to take them one at a time like a toddler.

            I also exercised today for the first time in over three months. My cable tv has a great set of free on-demand exercise programs and I tried a pilates one. My whole body is mush after having been involuntarily stuck to the couch for months and months so just 25 minutes of Pilates really kicked my butt! I got through it though. Now my muscles are pleasantly reminding me that they do, in fact, exist Also checked out a 10-minute yoga program (it was really just stretching) but a lot of the positions required me to be on my knees which is not possible at the moment.

            I've ordered a bike trainer which will convert my dinky bike to stationary one. I think I'll alternate between 20-30 minutes of slow cycling one day and pilates the other day. Not sure where pilates fits in the PB fitness scheme - given that it involved some planks and push-ups, lift heavy things?

            In other news, have ascertained by using myself as a guinea pig that homemade mayo is safe in the fridge for at least 8 days
            My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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            • #7
              Had a chicken salad for lunch today. For dinner, the long-planned cheat-meal of cheesecake. I only had a small one (550 cals). My roommate just returned from France and brought me a box of macarons, so I had a few of those too. Strangely, neither the cheesecake nor the macarons tasted all that amazing to me, even though both were high-quality products. Maybe I'm getting over my sweet tooth? Don't think I'm going to have the desire to eat anything for sweet for a while after this.

              Coincidentally I discovered something that might become my new "dessert" obsession: Apple slices dipped in coconut milk. Yummmm.....
              My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Ajax View Post
                The ground beef I cooked the other day (it was grass-fed) rendered a lot of fat. I drained it into a bowl where it solidified in an hour or so. Not knowing what to do with it, I tossed it. Should I have kept it? Can you use this as a cooking fat? Since it's grass-fed it's supposed to be healthy, no?
                You can absolutely use it as a cooking fat, but I'd cover and refrigerate it, and it'll taste fairly strongly of beef. I think best use is to just put it back in with the chili: that's what I do. Or put some in the pan when you cook eggs.

                However, I suggest that if you have much fat left over, you're overcooking the meat

                Originally posted by Ajax View Post
                Thoughts? What's everyone's experience with cheat meals? Can one cheat meal in an otherwise 95% clean week be super detrimental? (I should also mention that i haven't eaten yet today and the cheat meal will likely be my only meal of the day, so in terms of calories it's unlikely to put me over whatever daily amount I'm supposed to be consuming.)
                It's better to cheat once than to cheat repeatedly. My strategy is to eat something portion-limited, like a can of Coke or a candy bar. If you open a package of goldfish crackers you'll just eat them all.

                Like you, I've also found that when I eat a high-fat primal/paleo diet, I have very little inclination to snack or eat sweets. And coconut milk improves a lot of things. Find some good-quality curry paste and you can make some delicious meals very quickly (see the end of this article).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by J. Stanton View Post
                  You can absolutely use it as a cooking fat, but I'd cover and refrigerate it, and it'll taste fairly strongly of beef. I think best use is to just put it back in with the chili: that's what I do. Or put some in the pan when you cook eggs.

                  Oh, that's great to know. I hate wasting anything in the kitchen! I wonder if I can caramelize onions in beef fat to make French Onion Soup...
                  My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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                  • #10
                    Breakfast today was apple slices dipped in coconut milk. I think this is going to become an addiction for me...

                    Lunch: Chicken stew and salad. I had some raw tomatillos that were about to go bad so I chucked those into the salad - great addition!

                    Dinner:


                    Uploaded with ImageShack.us

                    That's blanched asparagus with mayo, half avocado with pistachio oil, and two pastured eggs scrambled with a little chorizo. Had a handful of almonds as dessert and now I'm gonna settle in to watch my guilty pleasure reality shows: America's Next Top Model and Top Chef
                    Last edited by Ajax; 04-06-2011, 04:55 PM.
                    My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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                    • #11
                      That looks and sounds really yummy.

                      Those are two of my guilty pleasure shows too.

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                      • #12
                        You seem to be off to a really great start - it seems like when people are already good cooks, primal / paleo just clicks very easily but for those who don't do much cooking the transition is much harder. Welcome!
                        Couple of little ideas: 1) yeah don't drain the fat, that's the good stuff 2) cheat days - I wouldn't plan them. I would just loosen your rules on social occasions to the extent that you feel like at the time. I think the mentality of planning to eat a cheesecake for instance, turns the whole thing into a "deprivation" scenario and encourages the whole "diet" mentality. Personally I eat what I want to, based mostly around two usually overlapping considerations: 1) what is healthy (aka primal) and 2) what I enjoy. Usually it's easy to get both things, but sometimes #2 wins, and sometimes sheer convenience wins out, ie when traveling.
                        Also, your journal title made me think this thread had a racier topic, but I'm still glad I clicked.
                        If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tfarny View Post
                          Also, your journal title made me think this thread had a racier topic, but I'm still glad I clicked.
                          Gimme time, I just didn't wanna shock any delicate sensibilities right off the bat

                          Thanks for your views on the cheat meal. This is still the experimental stages for me so I'm trying different strategies towards non-primal foods and seeing what's the best. I've been focused on eating healthy (albeit the CW way) for a very long time so I don't usually feel deprived of any foods anyway. Would I love to be able to eat fries and chocolate cake and down three margaritas every day, of course! But I know exactly what those things do to you and I much prefer being thin and healthy to the momentary pleasure from a plate of fries. (Although... now that I know I can reuse my beef fat... home-made fries fried in beef fat, anyone?)

                          As for the transition to primal, being in the habit of (and taking pleasure in) cooking has definitely made it easy. In fact, I'm surprised at how natural the transition has been. I don't really miss anything! I keep waiting for this "carb flu" that everyone speaks of to set in but I feel great!
                          Last edited by Ajax; 04-06-2011, 09:09 PM.
                          My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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                          • #14
                            You have to try sweet potato fries in coconut oil. Absolutely ridiculously awesome with homemade mayo, and there is no better side to a bunless burger.
                            If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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                            • #15
                              Made homemade mayo yesterday with 1/2 virgin olive oil and 1/2 extra virgin coconut oil... not that great. The coconut aftertaste is pretty strong and does NOT go well with sardines or with sweet potatoes. The consistency isn't great either, a tad too thin. Any ideas how I can thicken it?

                              I skipped breakfast. Lunch was a small bit of chicken stew, a can of sardines with smoked paprika mayo and mint and half avocado mashed up with a bit of coconut oil, stevia and cocoa powder.

                              Dinner:


                              Uploaded with ImageShack.us

                              That's a roasted purple sweet potato with smoked paprika mayo, a bunch of chopped tomatillos with guajillo sauce and a bit of smoked mozzarella cheese.

                              In other news I have just booked a trip to San Diego with a few friends. I've never been so it's very exciting! If anybody has suggestions, drop me a line!
                              My food blog, with many PB-friendly recipes

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