Today I completed my very first (and probably last!) marathon. I had a couple of goals when I set out at 7am this morning. The first was to finish. The second was to sustain my run with healthy sugar-free, mostly paleo foods. Above all, I wanted to avoid gels and goo. Running gels and goo are stuffed full of corn syrup, sugar, and other sweeteners. Given that I don’t eat sugar in my diet, I was convinced that ingesting these in a run would not only be detrimental to my health and would tank my run after a brief sugar high.
So, I set out with an eating plan that avoided all these fake “foods.” I packed with me a bumble bar, 2 natural fruit bars, raisins, and dried mango. I had a support team at the 18 mile mark with a gluten-free cashew nut butter and jam sandwich, and I made sure to use the potassium refill stations (bananas) along the way.
I finished, I stayed paleo (with the exception of the gluten-free bread on my sandwich), and I felt strong and healthy at the finish! If you’re interested in learning more about eating paleo for performance athletes, I suggest checking out the book “Paleo Diet for Athletes“
In a moment of culinary desperation, I threw together the following ingredients and was pleasantly pleased with the results. More than that, my family consumed dinner (including the broccoli) and went back to seconds. This speaks to a recipe worth repeating.
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 2 lbs steak sliced very thin
- 3 carrots sliced
- 1 not-beef bullion cube dissolved in 1 1/2 cups hot water
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbs coconut aminos
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 bag frozen organic cauliflower
- 1 bag frozen organic broccoli
- 3 tbs arrowroot starch dissolved in 1 tbs water
- Melt coconut oil in large frying pan and add steak slices and carrots
- Cook steak slices until browned
- Add bullion cube mix, minced garlic, coconut aminos, ginger, cauliflower & broccoli to pan. Cover and simmer until meat is cooked through and broccoli and cauliflower are hot (about 20 mins)
- Stir in arrow root starch mix and stir until the mixture thickens.
- Serve and enjoy!
The Statesman Journal published a great artical in the paper yesterday on the health benefits of going gluten free. It featured local dietitian Nancy Ludwig who teaches nutrition at the local community college. A brief summary negative impacts gluten can have on our health include:
- Gluten affects the brain – mood and cognative processing
- Gluten causes skin rashes
- Gluten can increase pain
- Gluten affects balance (also probably tied to the impact on the brain)
- Gluten increases incidences of anemia and osteperosis through impact to our ability to absorb nutrients
To learn more and read the Statesman Journal artical go to: http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20120424/LIFE/304240011/Dietitian-says-gluten-has-big-effect-health
I worked on this recipe and adapted it to meet the needs of people who can’t tolerate very spicy food. It has a nice flavor without being overwhelming in the spice department.
- 1 clove garlic minced (or 1 tsp crushed garlic from a jar – my favorite quick method!)
- 1/2-3/4 tsp ground paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef, lamb or turkey
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended
- Using a table-spoon scoop out a spoonful of meat and roll into a ball. Place on cookie sheet. Repeat until the cookie sheet is full.
- Slide tray into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
These are really tasty with a little unsweetened ketchup. Enjoy!
I have a several friends who have recently discovered a long list of things they can’t eat including gluten, eggs, and in one case, agave. I was looking for a baked goods recipe to make for them and came up with this modification to make it safe for all.
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (not strictly paleo but a reasonable replacement for agave – use agave if you’re not allergic to it)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
- Preheat oven to 350 and spray Demarle muffin tray with olive oil (alternatively line muffin cups with paper)
- Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl
- Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together
- Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined
- Fold in apples
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.
When my family and I first went gluten-free, there was almost nowhere we felt safe eating. I can tolerate cross-contamination of my food with gluten products, but the rest of my family can’t. This pretty much eliminated all fast food restaurants, Italian restaurants, pizza, and most of the rest from our list. Add to the fact that one of us is also soy intolerant and there went most of the Asian restaurants.
There are certainly benefits to avoiding these places – by not eating out we avoid a lot of wheat and soy fillers in our food, cheap and hormone packed meats, and all kinds of trans fats.
Our health has significantly improved by eliminating most eating out. However, occasionally it is nice to not have to do all the cooking or to be able to grab a quick meal out. I’ve been missing this for a while and then I discovered my new favorite restaurant – Willamette Burger Company.
Eating at WBC was a lesson to me that it pays to continue to try new places and ask questions. I recently got a groupon for Willamette Burger Company and figured I’d try them out. How could I go wrong? Worst case scenario I get a burger with lettuce, tomato and pickle and hold the bun at 1/2 the normal price.
Turns out this was a best case scenario. First, the meat at WBC is all locally grown, hormone free beef. For $1 more I can substitute local lamb. And, then I found out that they were significantly different from other venues because they have a dedicated fryer for their fries and tots. All their fries and tots are made on site, wheat free and fried in a dedicated gluten-free fryer. And while I can argue back and forth whether potatoes are paleo or not, it’s wonderful to know that I can get locally made fries that are guaranteed gluten-free through correct handling procedures. Awesome!
If you’re ever in the Willamette Valley, I suggest you check out the Willamette Burger Company. If you’re not, here are some things to look for in an exceptional burger business:
- Local, hormone free meats
- Options to substitute for beef
- Handmade fries
- Dedicated, gluten-free fryers
Many people are already aware that the medicine cabinet is frequently full of medications containing chemicals and compounds that make “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” appear easy to spell and pronounce. However, one group of chemical substances often overlooked that can be just as dangerous is cosmetics.
Have you looked at the contents of cosmetics? The list of chemicals is extensive and many of them are not tested for human safety. Not long ago I attended a demo of a major home sales cosmetics company. I was first curious if their cosmetics and other products were gluten free. Honestly, I was surprised when the sales rep was able to answer the question and provide company documentation that the products were gluten free. However, what shocked me was that the company rep said, “Our products are also humane. We don’t do any animal testing.” And then she added, “We test all our products on our reps.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not supporting animal testing or the torture of animals caused by testing cosmetic compounds on them. However, I should also point out that I don’t advocate using humans as test subjects! I certainly don’t want to be “testing” these products on myself. I certainly don’t want to add those chemicals to my body through absorption, or in the case of lipstick, by ingesting them.
Some examples of the chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and their health risks include:
- Coal tar – linked to bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) – linked to skin damage and increased risk of skin cancer
- Phthalates (industrial plasticizers) – commonly found in moisturizers and have been linked to birth defects and reproductive impairments
I no longer wear any cosmetics. In fact, the last time I interviewed for a job I didn’t even wear cosmetics to the interview (a first for me.) I made a conscious decision that, since I never wear them any other time, I would present an accurate representation of myself at the interview by not wearing any. And yes, I got the job.
If you are interested in learning more about what is inside your cosmetics and the health risks you run, check out this site: http://www.ewg.org/. The Environmental Working Group provides a host of information about the chemical contents of cosmetics in their cosmetics database.
I watched a Fox News clip responding to a recent 60 minutes Report on the Health Dangers of Sugar. While I did not see the original 60 minutes report, I was interested in the discussion with the Fox News staff person and two physicians. Both physicians agreed, in principle, that sugar is very unhealthy for individuals and causes a vast array of negative health impacts including obesity, insulin regulation issues and diabetes, increased risk of cancer, and other ailments. However, they both fell short of advocating a complete removal of sugar from one’s diet and encouraged people to be moderate in their consumption.
However, it made me wonder how “moderate” would be defined? How much is OK? I err on the side of avoiding sugar altogether because I know it affects my physical health, energy levels, weight, and more. One of the statistics reported in the discussion is that the average American consumes a third of a pound of sugar each day. Based on this reality, how does one know what “moderate” looks like?
I would also disagree with the statement released by the Sugar Association, “To vilify any single food or ingredient as the main culprit behind numerous serious illnesses provides little benefit to American consumers.” I think that thorough education of American consumers about the health risks of eating too much sugar and how to identify and avoid it in one’s diet is exactly what people need to be healthy.
It is apparent from this set of statistics from the Center for Disease Control (also quoted on the Fox News clip) that Americans, in general, are unaware of how much sugar is in their foods and unaware of the health implications of eating that much sugar.
- About one in every 6 calories consumed by kids comes from some kind of added sugar
- Boys consume an average of 361 calories worth of added sugar each day
- Girls consume an average of 282 calories worth of added sugar each day
You may not choose to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, but I strongly encourage you to review the foods you’re eating with a critical eye and become aware of the health implications of eating large amounts of sugar on a regular basis.
Just recently, I was asked by an acquaintance what I use on my skin. She thought my skin looked very healthy and vibrant and she wanted to know what my secret was. Well, the answer to the first question, what I use on my skin, was simple. Soap.
We’ll come back to the soap in a minute. Knowing how to take care of your skin is actually quite important when you think about it. Your epidermis is the largest organ in your body. It is responsible for most of what you feel all day long. And, a healthy skin is often a reflection of a healthy inside. Trying to fake this with cosmetics, lotions, or other chemical stuff is not as effective as achieving the real thing.
This gets to the answer to her second question, what my “secret” is. The answer is slightly more complex than soap, but still very simple. And it is not a secret. I”ll share it with you here.
Paleomom’s Recipe for Healthy, Vibrant Skin
- Start the day by drinking 2 glasses (16 oz) of water first thing in the morning to re-hydrate your body
- Limit caffeine and coffee to one cup a day (two max!) I’ve found that drinking more coffee than that starts to impact my skin health.
- Eat a Paleo diet that includes plenty of healthy fats such as those found in fish, nuts, avocados, and healthy oils (olive & coconut). The fats also help hydrate your skin.
- Drink water frequently throughout the day to continue to hydrate your body.
- When you exercise, choose exercise that causes you to sweat. Sweating cleanses your pores. Once you’re done, take a shower and wash your face.
- Avoid chocolate or any other foods that you find cause you to break out. Honestly, since I gave up eating chocolate, my skin has been very healthy. I actually tested this and found that if I eat chocolate, I break out.
- Sleep at least eight hours at night. A good night’s sleep will rejuvenate your whole body, including your skin.
That’s it, no kidding. Simple. Great skin from the inside out. No gimmicks, No rinses, goop, masks, or other stuff.
Now, back to the soap. I do have a few simple requirements for that soap that I use. I avoid store-bought soaps. Most of them aren’t actually soap, they’re detergent in a bar. Instead, I use a locally produced, traditional soap made from olive oil and scented with essential oils. Not only do I support a local artisan in my community, but I also get a great product. If you’re interested in getting hand-made soap, look for a local artisan or check out my favorites at Slab Soap Company.
After working strenuously in the garden for the first half of spring break, I found myself with a craving for strawberry lemonade. Given the strength of the craving, you’d think that I’d be laboring away in the hot sun. But no, this is the Pacific Northwest, and I have been laboring in the rain. Regardless, I still wanted strawberry lemonade! All the old, sugary, Country Time Lemonade went out in my purge of the pantry. So, I came up with this quick to make, sugar-free, and completely Paleo strawberry lemonade.
- Juice lemons and strawberries in a juicer and pour juice into blender
- Fill the blender 1/3 full of ice
- Add cold water to the 1/2 way mark on the blender
- Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of Stevia
- Puree 1-2 minutes
- Pour and enjoy!
Wow! This was so refreshing and I have to say, having made my own strawberry lemonade this way, I much prefer it to heavily processed, sugary concoctions from the grocery store.