Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Sep

Grokfeast in Illinois

On September 11th I asked Mark’s Daily apple readers to host a Grokfeast (a picnic/party celebrating the Primal lifestyle) and to send me the results. The following is one of 14 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow courtesy of US Wellness.

There are times when city dwellers need a break from the concrete. So our group, formed from members of the Primal Chicagoans Meetup group, headed to the edge of the suburbs to a neighborhood surrounded by forest preserves. There was grass! Trees! Insects! It was a great change for many of us and the perfect background for a Grokfeast. Our hostesses turned her house into a temple of food and good times. Her yoga studio held a table of Grok-approved cookbooks that members brought to browse during the afternoon. Another room, dubbed a “man cave,” played the Chicago Bears game (which nobody sat down to watch, of course). Mostly we spent our time outside in a backyard perfect for playing with several four-legged friends.

Tree climbing: We had been eying that tree since lunch started. It was just asking to be scaled.

Memory card game: We wanted to jumpstart our brains as well as our bodies. A card game that involved matching pictures in a game of speed had people jumping out of their chairs with competitive spirit.

Disc: Enough said.

General rough-housing with dogs: Members brought their furry companions, who, when no one was looking, ate a stick of our Kerrygold butter off the counter. They ran around with yellow mustaches for the rest of the day! That didn’t stop us from playing a buttery disc keep-away game with them.

Coconut water blind taste test: We compared six brands of coconut water in a blind taste test, ranking them from 1 to 5. We even cracked a real coconut! (See video) But found no juice inside (wrong kind for that).

Some were great, some were like licking a sweaty basketball player. “Tastes like sweat, but kind of nice for sweat,” one member said. The all-around favorite turned out to be the 100% raw brand, Harmless Harvest.

85% vs. 90% chocolate test: This was an important comparison to make. We could be saying we’re kidding, but the difference between 85% and 90% dark chocolate was huge! And you could have almost twice as much of the 90% with the lower sugar/carb content! We also learned how to eat dark chocolate and enjoyed every crumb.

Cookbook display: Sometimes you just don’t know if you want to spring for that cookbook until you see it in person. Members brought books from their libraries for people to preview. We had more than a dozen cookbooks!

You put your right foot in…

The Feast

  • Steamed kale/broccoli salad
  • Marinated grilled veggies
  • Braised red cabbage and duck
  • Cashew and banana bars
  • Raw veggies
  • Bacon wrapped dates and pineapple
  • Pork rinds from a local maker
  • Fruit salad with local apples
  • Local grass-fed steaks (grilled)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Zucchini and butternut squash muffins
  • Coconut and dark chocolate muffins
  • Tuna and olive salad

The best recipe… it’s purple!

Braised Red Cabbage and Duck

  • 2 pans—nonstick for the duck, big one for the cabbage
  • Duck breasts with fat
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 1 medium onion
  • Olive oil (a few tbsp.)
  • Dry red wine—like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir (1 cup)
  • Red wine vinegar (2 tbsp.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Jelly (preferably sugar free) (optional)


  1. Thaw the duck if frozen.
  2. Cut the onion and cabbage into small bits and keep them separate.
  3. Fry the duck to render the fat. Keep it on medium-low heat, fat side down, until the fat starts to release. Cook on that side for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil in the other (bigger) pan and start to sauté the onions. Let them brown but not burn.
  4. Dump the cabbage into the big pan. Then pour the duck fat into the big pan, add the red wine and red wine vinegar, and stir. Keep on medium heat. Add some salt and pepper and cover. Meanwhile, flip the duck and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.
  5. Take the duck out and cut it lengthwise into strips about a half of an inch thick. Or cut into small pieces if you’re serving this as a side dish. Add the duck back to the pan and cook to the point you’re comfortable with. (We did 3-4 minutes max).
  6. Pour the contents of the duck pan — fat and all — into the cabbage pan. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve with the jelly to taste.

A note from the maker: This is a great side dish or a great meal. The key to the taste is duck fat. Most people know cabbage is full of nutrients, but few appreciate the taste and health benefits of duck fat.

The Infographic (PDF)

The Tribe

Cathy Pisano, Gordy Wright, Remy Olson, Todd Flaming, Anthony Apostol, Wanda Vanphou, Mandy, Rob Farmer, Shannon Sullivan, Stephen Weinberg, Matt Broihier, Owen McCall, Happy Smith, Daniella Sucato, Happy Smith, Katie Nieland, Chris Thomsen, Todd Dosenberry

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. Very cool and I love the infographic!

    Alison Golden wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • The infographic is amazing! It really organizes it well. :)

      Primal Toad wrote on September 28th, 2012
  2. Love this! Well done guys! Who’s up for a Grok fest in NYC? Any takers for Central Park?

    Rebecca wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • Rebecca – Are you aware of all the Paleo meetup groups in NYC? There are a few but the main one has 1250 members at this very moment:

      Looks like they are doing a MovNat session in Central Park tomorrow. Check it out!

      Primal Toad wrote on September 28th, 2012
  3. WOW it looks like you all had an awesome time! The food looks delicious too.

    MaureenL wrote on September 28th, 2012
  4. I am so jealous!! Anyone in Colorado who wants to make a meet up? Maybe there is one already… I could use more friends who don’t judge me and my generous consumption of red meat or stare incredulously at my Vibrams.

    Susie wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • Where do you live in Colorado? There are 6 in Colorado as of about 2 weeks ago.

      A list of all the Primal related meetup groups can be found here:

      You’re welcome :)

      Primal Toad wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • Thanks for the props! If you ever come on down to Chicago, join us! We’d be glad to have you.

      Anthony wrote on September 28th, 2012
  5. Yayyy! This was super fun to go to! Thanks to everyone who participated! (I’m the one in the red Huskers sweatshirt in the ending group photo)

    katieCHI wrote on September 28th, 2012
  6. Looking at the pics you all look so healthy and vibrant! Grok on.

    Jill Jameson wrote on September 28th, 2012
  7. So sorry I missed it!! :-(

    Erin Shoemaker wrote on September 28th, 2012
  8. I’m going to treat myself having some of that duck again. (I’m the one in the backwards baseball cap)

    Anthony wrote on September 28th, 2012
  9. Oh, I am the one in the “I eat heart healthy saturated fat” t-shirt (green) right behind the O in Chicago (the dogs ear is covering it up…

    -if you look at the second to last photo.

    Primal Toad wrote on September 28th, 2012
    • Todd! Where did you get that t-shirt?? :)

      Jaime wrote on September 28th, 2012
      • Go to

        I thought of the slogan and had someone design the logo for me :)

        Primal Toad wrote on September 28th, 2012
  10. Love the infographic. This looks like so much fun.

    Yaya wrote on September 28th, 2012
  11. I think the coconut cracking takes wins the contest!

    lukedepron wrote on September 29th, 2012

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