Friday, January 27, 2012

Spontaneous dinnertime!!

As a military spouse, you gotta love it when the hubby comes home unexpectedly during an exercise!!  So, though I had nothing prepared or thawing for dinner, I turned to my brand new cookbook:  Well Fed (see picture or click on the link)
for instant inspiration for the shrimp I had in the freezer... AND found some GREAT recipes!!

So, page 75 she had Ginger-Lime Grilled Shrimp.  Oops... hubby hasn't hooked the grill back up so they became broiled shrimp!!  I truly don't feel right posting her original recipe as its in an actual cookbook I purchased, but I did find the exact recipe on her blog site.  So was the accompanying dish, the Coconut-Almond Green beans (page 125).  So, click here for her blog page and you can see her pretty pictures and the recipes!

So... as I typically do, I changed a few things to put the BabyPT spin on it!!  As I've never cooked with coconut milk before, I have to admit that I opened the can with a pierce-style opener (you know, the one where you make two holes in the top of the can) and then shoved a chopstick down through the cream to release the milk.  This probably cut down on the fat, and thus the thickening of the juices.  So, I'd recommend not doing that!  However, it was great!  I've lived my life NOT liking coconut at all, so this is quite the change for me.  I must say, it really didn't 'taste' like coconut to me... so I'm not sure if mixing up the cream and milk would have changed the flavor.

Ginger-Lime Shrimp and Coconut-Almond Green Beans with Avocado

 Since I was on the low side for my fat intake for the day, I opted to put a half avocado on the side for that!  Since I met my hubby, he's loved having just a 1/2 avocado with red wine vinegar and cracked black pepper on it.  For YEARS I would eat only 1/2 of the 1/2 he gave me (yeah, I know, that's 1/4... smarty pants!!) thinking I didn't need all those fat calories, cause... gee, they were bad for you... NO MORE!!!  I enjoyed every last freakin' piece of avocado flesh that was in my half!!  And this one was PERFECT.


As you can see by the nutritional label I posted here, most of the fat that is in an avocado is the MUFA kind (monounsaturated fatty acid).  It's also the bulk (70%) of from where the calories come.  That's fine by me... but what else can I get from eating my 1/2 avocado besides 125 calories with 88 of them from MUFAs?
Well, I'll keep doing the math for us:

Fat:  Total Fat 11.25 grams, 1.25 grams Sat Fat and PUFAs, and 7.5 grams MUFAs
Potassium:  375mg
Carbs:  7.5g
Fiber:  5 g

No sugar, no protein...

E and C
THEN, there's a whole compliment of your "B" Vitamins!!
     Riboflavin (B2)
     Pantothenic Acid (B5)
     Niacin (B3)
     Thiamin (B1)
     Folate (B9)


And lastly... remember that Inflammation Factor I blogged about months ago??  Yes, smarty pants, I realized that I got used to "knowing" off hand the IF of almost all the foods I regularly ate, so stopped blogging my numbers... sorry, ADD kicked in!!  However, I'm still checking "unknown" foods or foods I don't regularly consume, for their inflammation factor... so, I checked the avocado...
Inflammation Factor:  60    (YAY!!)

So, Needless to say, if you like avocado... consider adding it to your meals.  Perhaps as a part of the meal, a dip, or just a few chunks with lunch.  They also make oil from avocados, so all of you who can get it from your local store (lucky ducks!!)... get it.  Makes great mayo (as I've seen on other blogs like Paleo on Main) and wonderful salad dressings as it has a light, though distinctive flavor. 

So, what are you waiting for??  Get out there and get yourself some avocados!!! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Been Busy

Gosh, life took a busy turn when my college boy left after the holidays!  Well, the last week with him here was very busy as one of his roommates came to Japan and we finally went out and saw some sights.  So, here are some great photos of the time while my college boy was visiting. 
Me after walking down a grueling hill!!
My two loves eating Shabu Shabu

My teen asleep on the train... next to a sleeping Japanese guy!
My college boy taking photos... not easy when he kept climbing down to the river to take the pictures!

College boy holding up a whale outside of the Natural History Museum!

Japanese National Museum and the guys leaving me!!
 Lastly, I'd love to leave you with a yummy dinner that I made tonight! 

Beef Stir Fry:
1 skirt steak - cut in 1/2 then into strips against the grain
1 zucchini - cut in half then thin slices
1/2 onion - cut into thin slices
8 baby carrots - thinly sliced
1/2 head cauliflower
3 cloves garlic - minced
2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Melt some coconut oil in a wok style frying pan over medium high heat and add onions and carrots, fry until the onions turn translucent and add the zucchini, 1/2 garlic and 1/2 ginger.  Keep cooking until zucchini are crisp-tender, not mushy!  Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt either more coconut oil or preferred grease (mine is bacon grease I've clarified) and begin stif frying the thin strips of beef.  Add the rest of the garlic and ginger, some reduced sodium gluten-free soy sauce and about 1/4 cup water.  Let the meat finish cooking by boiling in the liquid.  As the meat finishes, add the veggie mixture, orange juice and thickening agent (I had to use 2 tsp tapioca flour as I still haven't found arrowroot powder or kudzu, I'd recommend finding something Paleo like those two and not the tapioca, but in a pinch it's "ok"), cooking until the liquid thickens to a sauce and remove from heat.  If more liquid is needed, just add more water or OJ. 

Cook cauliflower by steaming in the microwave (or stovetop) for 3 minutes, so it's still crisp.  Run it through your food processor, or I used a Pampered chef chopper until it's finely grated and looks, well, like rice. 

Serve beef mixture over the "rice" and eat while still warm!  Hubby loved this, but I had to make him "real" rice for his... fine, saved me some cauliflower 'rice' for lunch tomorrow!!  Gotta like that!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


FILLERS:  What is a filler?


1. a person or thing that fills: a filler for pies; a filler of orders.
2. a thing or substance used to fill  a gap, cavity, or the like.
3. a substance used to fill  cracks, pores, etc., in a surface before painting or varnishing.
4. a liquid, paste, or the like used to coat a surface or to give solidity, bulk, etc., to a substance, as paper or a chemical powder.
5. Journalism . material, considered of secondary importance, used to fill  out a column or page.

My definition of a "filler":  something one eats to FEEL full, but has no nutritional content on it's own (many times is fortified with nutrients).

Lately, I've been using the word "filler" a LOT.  Why?  Cause I live in Japan.  Huh??  Well, when I went Primal/Paleo, I had just returned from a visit to the states and was pumped with the bug of eating well.  It's now been 6 months since I went Primal and I have determined that, at times, living in Japan, I succumb to eat these fillers to, yes, feel full.  Let's think about our way of eating as a primalist or paleolithic eater.  We eat good sized quantities of meat (nope, not the silly 'deck of cards = 4 ounces of beef' size, but REAL sizes of 8 - 12 ounces of beef!!) that fill up 1/2 of our plate.  We then eat veggies to fill the other side, whether in a salad, a single veggie, or a mixture of great veggies cooked in all their yummy goodness.  However, in Japan... here's what I know.  Beef, fish, pork, etc. is expensive.  Not a little expensive... like our $5/pound angus beef sirloin in the freezer, but the 1200 to 1500 yen per kilo costs for the Japanese!  (today the exchange rate is 76 yen to 1 dollar, so we tend to wrongly round up to 100 yen = 1.00 dollar)  

With expenses like that, its a no wonder that the meat is NOT the highlight of the meal over here... that would be rice.  So... want beef curry?  You'll get half a plate of rice and half a plate of brown sauce with perhaps 3 small chunks of beef in it.  Yep, you'd eat the 'filler', too.  In that meal, the filler is white rice.  

BUT RICE IS A .... *gasp* GRAIN!!!  Yep, it is.  Being primal I stay away from grains to include rice and corn, however if the ONLY thing you have to eat consists of 3 puny pieces of meat... you'll eat the rice.  It's kinda funny when people ask me why I'll eat the white rice and NOT the 'healthy' brown rice now (no, the Japanese do not typically eat or serve brown rice, these are Americans asking me).  I attempt to give the talk of how the husk is indigestible and get quizzical looks as they say "BUT, We're TOLD that BROWN RICE WITH THE OUTSIDE IS FULL OF FIBER AND IT'S GOOD FOR YOU!!!"  As I typically do, I counter with a Mark Sisson piece:  
I mean, even the most ardent zero-carber would have to admit that brown rice sports an impressive nutrient profile (to clarify, that’s 100g raw; 100g cooked is far less impressive). But most of it is bound up with phytic acid and mostly useless to humans. Rats and other rodents produce phytase, which breaks down phytic acid and releases the bound minerals, but until we engineer rat-human hybrids, we’re not enjoying the full potential of brown rice.  Read more:
Also, I look to Mark Sisson to make myself feel a little better about cheating on myself with the white rice...
Rice is a grain that happens to be not so awful in certain circumstances – on the occasional dinner plate of a lean, insulin-sensitive individual; after a glycogen-depleting workout; underneath a massive slab of yellowtail prepared specially by a sushi-chef in appreciation of your enthusiasm for his creations. It’s a cheat that almost isn’t, that neither necessitates eventual pangs of guilt nor causes – for most people – pangs of gastric distress.  Read more:
However, it STALLS weight loss!  (THAT'S why I haven't lost any weight since my college kid's been visiting!!)  WHY??  'Cause it's a filler that is primarily made up of carbs... uh, sugar.  That's why!

Now, the beef (so to speak) that I have with the Standard American Diet (SAD) is that it is FULL of fillers... MORE so than the Japanese diet!  Fillers like:  potatoes, bread, rice, quinoa, noodles or other pasta, grits, etc.  Think of anything you put on your plate that is not meat or veggies.  NO potatoes don't count as a veggie!!  They are a starch, which is pure carbohydrate with little redeeming qualities.  Can you use that as your cheat?  Sure... just won't lose weight eating them.  Nor will you reduce your blood sugar or insulin resistance.   My eyes keep straying back to the quinoa... yeah, as much as we like it... it's a carb and increases blood sugar and increases fat storage similar to wheat and other grains.  Can you 'cheat' with it?  Sure, again, if you don't need to lose weight or have insulin resistance... etc.  So, think about 'fillers'... why use them?  If you want to feel full... eat the meat, which has protein and fat in it that will, in turn, release your body's leptin and signal your brain that you are FULL.  Win-win situation.

Doesn't help me when I'm out on the economy here in Japan!!  So, I cheat.  Not with ANYTHING that contains gluten or wheat.  Wheat Belly and my finding out I'm gluten sensitive has cured me of ever wanting to eat bread or 'real' pasta again.  But, rice... that little white grain, will be my only cheat. 

So, what does one, who is hungry do after eating out the day prior?  No, not starve oneself nor fast for a day (though the occasional fast is actually good for you!), but eat "normal" as a primal/Paleo person should.  Get out your plate, cut it in 1/2 and fill one half with meat, the other with veggies and don't allow any cheats that day.  The realization that I could 'cheat' one day and go back to my "DIET" (ha!!  Hate that word... it's a LIFESTYLE, baby!!) the next was an "Ah-ha" moment for me.  So... I'll use rice to not feel those 'hunger pangs' when we're out.  But at home?  Nope, no rice.  Will I 'cheat' with corn?  Not a chance, that's too genetically modified for me to ever eat again... but that's another story. 

Why am I rambling?  Where are the photos??!!  OK... here's some recent meals on outings.  You'll see I try to be good:

Meal at top of Mt Takao: rice triangles, a bowl of miso soup and some chicken sticks (around $12)

Yakiniku: small pieces of meat, small salad and bimbop: veggies and rice (around $20)... not all that meat is mine :( 

Main dish at culture group: fish and eggplant wrapped greenery
Primal Meals:
Now for recent Primal meals.  The first one is an omage to Paleo Pasta.  OMG!!  This stuff is great... not just the "I haven't had Pasta in 6 months so anything is good" type of good, but GOOD!!!  The one I made is spinach pasta and I cooked up some left over turkey breast in my homemade spaghetti sauce, topped with fresh peas and some parmesean cheese.  It was nummy!!! 

 The second dinner was a steak night... cooked up some New York strips on the grill and boiled artichokes.  We eat artichokes by peeling off the leaves, dipping the end in butter and pulling the meat off between our teeth... yeah, this meal made even the hubby feel like a caveman!  :)  Needless to say, I also cooked up some mushrooms and onions in butter and a touch of clarified bacon grease.  Oh, Lordy that was good!! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome, 2012!!

There's been a LOT of talk about New Year's resolutions and the like... many people coming up to me or emailing me asking about 'my secret'.  Of course, I steer them toward the blog I did last month with all my connections to Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, Sarah Fragioso, etc...

There is one huge difference so far in these folk's reactions compared with last month (the holidays were looming, after all)... no GASP or SHOCK of HORROR when I mention NO GRAIN!  Hmmmmm... seems by flipping a calendar page and writing a different number for the year turns some people around.  How long?  Seriously, how long?  I am already hearing on Facebook about headaches and 'cravings' for those 'carbs'.  ??CARBS???  You mean "GRAIN-based carbs", right?  Yeah, that's gotta be it 'cause I KNOW I've talked about the fact that vegetables ARE carbs (and some fat, fiber and protein... great chart here for vegetable components)!  Get away from the 'simple' and 'complex' carb talk down to the brass tacks... you "need" carbs, you eat your veggies.  So stop whining about not being able to eat a hunk of bread with slimy sugary crap all over it and eat some delicious veggies. 
The more colors, the better!!

Veggies... delicious?  YES!!  I'm not talking about having a heaping plate full o'salad greens every freakin' meal, but actually eating different types of veggies.  Find out what's in season where you live and get some of those.  (click here for a link to a seasonality chart for vegetables)  Don't know how to cook them?  Easy!  GOOGLE it!!  Find a recipe with grain in it?  Do a little research (or, ask me for help) to figure out how to replace it with a non-grain version.  Such as... wheat flour being used as a thickener for beef brisket carbonade... there are different things we Paleos can use in place as the flour or typical cornstarch thickener. 

Huge Kudzu root!!
One great substitution is Arrowroot Powder.  Now, I can't get that here in Japan (except by mail and that takes a while)... so, someone turned me onto Kuzu (Kudzu) powder.  Yep... that yucky vine that's all over the southern states along the highways.  It originated over here in Asia and it's root is absolutely HUGE!!  Leave it up to a community of people who recycle EVERYTHING to figure out that when reduced to a powder, it's a great thickener.  Now, the Japanese also think it has a LOT of health benefits such as reducing alcohol cravings (yeah, for hangovers, too!), treatment of migraines and other headaches, allergies, diarrhea, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and vertigo. There's also possibility of it helping with cardiovascular disease and diabetes... so... I'm buying more!!  :)  When I read the last bit on diabetes, I looked up, or tried to look up the glycemic index of Kudzu... not to be found online.  Or, if it can be found, it wasn't by me! 

Another thing I see a lot of in vegetable recipes is brown sugar.  How to replace that?  WHY USE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!??  I mean, really?  If you cook the veggies right, meaning don't cook their color out and boil away all nutrients, they have their own sweetness!  Hmmm... perhaps that comes form the fact that THEY contain CARBS!  (read this, O doctor of my diabetic friend who told her to eat 120 grams of carbs from grains a day cause her brain couldn't survive without them!!)  Remember, carbs are sugar. 

I find that once you've been 'off' sugar for a minimum of 2 weeks, you stop craving that added sugar anyways.  I guarantee, if you bring back in any sweeteners, even the 'natural' kinds like honey and maple syrup, you will STALL in your weight loss.  Not bad, if that isn't your goal... but right now, it's mine.  I have been at the same weight (or juggling the same 4 pounds) since Thanksgiving.  That's the period in time that I began using honey and maple syrup in my attempts at making baked goods (brownies, anyone??) and ate more starchy foods such as sweet potatoes.  Cut out the starch (read, slow acting, but long acting carbohydrates) as well as those USDA "healthy whole grains" and the weight loss will begin again.  Case in point... 2 pounds since 31 December.  Got it?  OK. 

So... what's for dinner?  Well, tonight was a lovely New York strip steak marinated in sake (I know, made from rice... not totally paleo, but better than beer), rice wine vinegar, gluten-free soy sauce, garlic and ginger smothered in mushrooms and onions cooked in clarified bacon grease and butter, with... artichokes!!  In our family, we cook them whole in boiling water and peel off the leaves, dip in butter and strip off the 'meat' with our teeth.  That goes on until you get to the heart and we eat that also dipped in butter.  (For years I denied myself that particular pleasure!!) 
Lovely, just lovely... steak... good steak at that, and artichoke?  We were all in heaven!

Happy 2012 all!  I pray your goals really do come true... I'm here for you!