Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe: Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

I created this recipe on a whim, as I had some bacon and chicken thighs that needed using! It is so quick, easy and tasty that it has become a regular on our menu... The combination of spinach and feta has always been a favourite of mine, and although I used frozen spinach in my recipe, you could use fresh wilted spinach as well. Seriously, this dish doesn't need any seasoning because it's all in the ingredients - enjoy!


4 x chicken thighs (you could use breasts, but thighs are more fatty and juicy!)
4 x middle bacon rashers
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1/2 cup full-fat feta


Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Microwave spinach until thawed and warm (be careful not to cook it too long or it will dry out). Mix the feta into the spinach and stir until well combined.

Lay the bacon rashers side by side on a baking tray. Place the chicken thighs on top of the bacon.

Spoon the spinach and feta mixture into each chicken thigh. Carefully close the thighs around the mixture. Fold each side of the bacon rasher over the thighs so that they are wrapped together tightly.

Place in oven and bake for approx 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through. I recommend turning halfway through to make the bacon crisp up nicely.

Serve topped with sliced avocado and sweet potato wedges with a garden salad (just a suggestion, but it works wonderfully!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

What's the World Wide Web saying this week?

We already know it, but now the mainstream media is catching on - reading food labels is better for weight loss than exercise! After all, 80% of body composition, and therefore weight loss, is your diet!

The blog of Dr Michael Eades is one of the best on the net, and his article about the the pitiful state of medical ignorance is one of best articles I've read! Ask yourself, when was the last time you went to the doctor because you were sick and he/she asked about your diet rather than just prescribing you pills?!? It's time we ask more of the medial profession and question why doctors don't know anything except how to prescribe you a pill for your symptoms!

If you're like me, Chicken Cordon Bleu is a favourite, but how to do it without grains?!? This amazing recipe at Joyful Abode uses ground pork rinds for the coating - OMG! Pork + chicken + swiss cheese!!!

I was excited to read this article about saturated fat in Mens Health! For such a mainstream magazine, it's great that we are slowly getting more information about the benefits of eating fat and the dangers of eating sugar!

Could weight loss really be more of an issue of mind over matter?

This health in a nutshell article highlights the benefits of eating nuts... I don't really need an article to tell me that eating nuts is good for me, but it's nice to have some scientific studies backing me up!

As you know, I'm really interested in children's behaviour in relation to the food that they eat. Emily Deans, MD, at Evolutionary Psychiatry wonders if we could begin to see ADHD like a food allergy in certain children?!?! This is an exciting step in the approach we take towards treating children with ADHD symptoms - and hopefully minimising the need for those children to take drugs to control their behaviour.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Fury!!!

I was furious when I read this article about the Corn Refiners Association applying to change the name of its extremely unsavoury product, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It’s another example of blatant disregard for the health of the human population and of the greed of the big companies who will stop at nothing to increase their profits.
HFCS is an absolutely terrible addition to any diet. As Mark says, “while there are slightly more terrible liquids out there – liter fluid for example – it’s really a shame that the ‘foods’ available to us are so commonly laced with HFCS.” The coincidence that the rise in obesity over the past 30 or so years parallels the addition of HFCS in many of our foods has not gone unnoticed by many in the health industry. Mark has a link to a graph which displays this beautifully:-

For some science on the dangers of HFCS, check out this Princeton study. And, as if concerns about obesity weren’t enough, further studies have linked consumption of HFCS to liver disease and decreased kidney function. If you have a spare hour and are still not convinced, you might also like to watch Dr Robert Lustig’s video, "Sugar: The Bitter Truth".
Seriously, this is one area where ALL health experts agree. But now, because the health industry, and consequently the general public, is waking up to the true dangers of consuming HFCS, the Corn Refiners Association is trying to get around that by simply changing the name of its product. They’re not changing the actual product, and it will therefore be just as bad for you as before, but I guess they’re hoping if it is instead called “Corn Sugar” consumers might be tricked into thinking it is just like normal sugar.
Don’t get me wrong, you know by now that sugar consumption should be kept to a bare minimum. But if you want some of the sweet stuff, and fruit won’t satisfy your cravings, honey or maple syrup should be your first choices. And only in small doses. My go-to is 85% dark chocolate and a square is all I need!
If anything, this development should make us all aware. Not just of the risks of consuming HFCS, but of the lengths that all major food companies will go to in the name of profit margins. They simply do not care about our health. The $$$$ are their driving motivation. I encourage you to make informed choices and to not fall for their propaganda!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A day in my life

Today was a good day! I feel really positive about both my eating and exercise today, so thought I would share it with you... I've been a little bit run down this week, and added to the stress of my job interview last week, it has culminated in a cold sore, so have been trying to really focus on clean eating and staying really healthy. I must say though, these Compeed patches are the best treatment I've ever used for cold sores, so if you haven't discovered them yet, and you're an unfortunate sufferer of cold sores like me, you must try them out!
Here's my day...
I woke this morning and had my lemon & water drink with 2 lysine tablets (a must when you have a cold sore outbreak).
Breakfast consisted of 1 soft boiled egg and a smoothie (banana, strawberry, pecan, greek yoghurt & coconut milk). I also took my daily vitamins, Blue Ice Royal (Cod Liver Oil+Butter Oil) and Ferro-Grad (Iron+Vit C).
I had a handful of macadamias at about 11.30am... I find it so hard to just stop at a handful of macadamias, but practising self-control is a really important component of the Primal Blueprint! Because all of the food you eat is SO tasty, you really need to be conscious of how much you're eating, otherwise it's very easy to eat a whole packet of something (in my case, macadamias) in one sitting!
Today was a rare day that I didn't have a packed lunch, so I bought a 1/4 free range chicken, 1 avocado, and a pre-mixed greek salad to eat. Not the most amazing primal lunch, but definitely a reasonable compromise. I've really been focusing on increasing my fat intake lately, so have been adding avocado to many of my salads. I have to say, it's definitely a favourite of mine!
Due to a late lunch (2:00pm) and having personal training at 5:30pm, I didn't eat anything this afternoon. That meant I was really pumped for my personal training session.

And boy, did my trainer work me hard! A brief warm up walking on an incline on the treadmill and then into the weights room for a great, but full-on, workout. Here's a run down of what I did:-
3 sets of:-
15 x squat to press
15 x bent over rows
15 x bicycle crunches
3 sets of:-
15 x upright rows
10 x burpees
15 x push ups
3 sets of:-
15 x bicep curls
10 x jumping jacks
30 second plank
3 sets of:-
10 x medicine ball squats
100 x skips
10 x O-leg crunches
Let me say I was completely buggered by the end of this! And my trainer let me cheat on the last set by only doing 50 skips... I think I earnt it but! Seriously, skipping is not one of my favourite exercises, simply because I always feel un-co doing it and generally can't do 100 skips straight through without at least one trip up. Can someone out there invent a machine that replicates the skipping action, without actually having to jump over a rope ;-p
Tonight's dinner consisted of lamb cutlets and garlic with mashed pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, and dutch carrots. And for dessert I treated myself to a cuppa and a fruit & nut bar (home made of course)!
So, today was definitely a great day! How was yours?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Meatballs in tomato & basil sauce with asparagus parcels

I love meatballs and especially remember both of my grandmothers' rissole recipes quite fondly. However, I know that they use breadcrumbs in their recipes, so I set out to create my own! I used their ideas as a basis and then experimented and they turned out so well that my husband requests them regularly.


500g mince (beef or lamb)
250g prosciutto, diced
1 sml onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t oregano
1/2 t chill powder
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, whisked
sprinkle salt & pepper

Tomato & Basil Sauce
3 x truss tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup roma/cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 T fresh basil, finely sliced
1/2 cup red wine

Asparagus Parcels
10 x fresh asparagus
2 x cherry tomatoes, halved
2 x slices prosciutto
parmesan cheese


Mix all meatball ingredients apart from eggs until well combined. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the eggs. Mix together. With lightly oiled hands, roll meatballs into desired size.

Bunch 5 asparagus together and rest on slice of prosciutto. Place halved cherry tomato on top and a shaving of parmesan cheese. Wrap the ends of the prosciutto around the asparagus to form a parcel. Put on a baking tray and into oven for 10minutes at 180 degrees.

Heat a frying pan (add oil if desired, we use coconut oil) and once hot, add the meatballs. Fry 5-7 minutes until browned and then flip onto opposite side for another 5-7 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a baking tray and add to the oven with the asparagus (this will ensure any that haven't quite cooked through will fully cook).

In the same frying pan, add all of the tomato sauce ingredients except the wine. When mixed thoroughly, add the wine, stirring well. Bring to the boil and then simmer, ready to serve over the meatballs.

Serve with wilted spinach and some more parmesan!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Primal Plan

Whenever someone has asked me about Primal Blueprint lately, they've always followed up with a "What's the eating plan like?" question. I'm sorry to break it to you, but there isn't one! And that is the real beauty of the Primal Blueprint - it can be tailored exactly to suit your goals and taste buds ;-p How many times have you read over a diet plan which gives you a daily eating schedule and thought, "I could never do that because I don't like eating (fill in the gap here)"... That issue is eliminated when following the Primal Blueprint because you can choose to eat what you like from the allowed foods list! If you're still unsure about the allowed foods, here's a run down:-
- vegetables;
- meat;
- fish;
- poultry;
- nuts & seeds;
- fruit;
- FAT!
- grains;
- trans-fats;
- anything with an ingredients list ;-p
We also allow dairy in our eating plan. Mark recommends cutting it out if you know you have issues digesting it, but we, thankfully, seem to handle it well. Again with dairy, full fat is the only way to go, raw is even better but difficult to obtain (low fat means it's been heavily processed  - and seriously, how much better does full fat cheese, milk, yoghurt taste!)... But, as another example of making the eating plan work for you, if you don't feel 100% when eating it, don't!
Of course, people are still curious about what we eat during a day/week and so I thought I'd give you a look at our plan for the week...

1 x soft boiled egg
Smoothie with hazelnut, banana, strawberries & greek yoghurt
Bacon & eggs with tomato, spinach & mushroom sautéed in garlic
Intermittent Fasting
1 x soft boiled egg
Smoothie with hazelnut, banana, strawberries & greek yoghurt
Sausages with tomato, spinach & fetta frittata
Left over roast chicken and vegies
Fish cakes with BAS (big ass salad)
Grilled lamb, pumpkin & fetta greek salad
BAS with ham and avocado
Thai Lettuce wraps with roasted cashews
Salmon in creamy dill sauce with steamed vegies
Greek lamb cutlets with sautéed mediterranean vegetables
Beef ribs in blueberry sauce with roast sweet potato & spinach
Thai Lettuce wraps with roasted cashews
Cheat Meal (Katie travelling)

As you can see, we are eating quite well on this 'diet'. I do this plan up on a Friday before our weekly shop and it always works well. And just so you know, we plan to eat this way for the rest of our lives, focussing on the freshest fruit and vegetables, and best sources of meat (grass fed should be your aim). We have been eating like this for the past 2 months and I've lost over 7kg! And I've never felt like I'm missing out! To help you even more, over the coming weeks I'll post recipes for some of our favourite meals so you can try them out too (check out Salmon in Creamy Dill Sauce to get you started).
One thing you will notice is that there are no morning or afternoon snacks in there. Honestly, we've found that you don't need them when eating this way. Particularly after a breakfast filled with eggs and lots of fat, we stay full until lunch time. If we do feel the need to snack, our choices are nuts or fruit. Also, if we're feeling like we need something after dinner, we allow ourselves a square of dark (85%) chocolate with a cup of tea. Mark covers sensible vices quite nicely and dark chocolate definitely makes our list! Warning though, if you've never had 85% dark before, I recommend working up to it by starting at 70%... Initially, to our 'sweet tooth' 85% dark chocolate was quite bitter, but now after having cut out all sweet things, it tastes like pure gold to us! Apparently they can get 99% stuff in the States, so one day we might give that a go. I'll do a proper dark chocolate post at a later date.
So there you have it. I challenge anyone to claim that we are missing out on vital nutrition eating this way... Unlike many other diets, we don't feel restricted in our eating choices, and definitely feel FULL after eating every meal. We have more energy than ever before and that helps us when we're flexing our muscles at the gym. The variety in our food is amazing and we've discovered a love for many new vegetables (which, if we were told that we MUST eat for a diet plan we would probably dislike, but because we get to choose to eat them, we love them!).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's the World Wide Web saying this week?

Dr Jonny Bowden shares an article explaining another reason why Omega 3s are crucial for good health. So take your fish oil daily!

Over at Zen Habits, Chris Guillebeau urges you to make your own choices in life. Remember what it was like as a kid?!?!?

quality gluten free beer?!?! Yes, please! Robb Wolf has done the ground work for all you beer lovers (me included!)

Chris Masterjohn at the Daily Lipid writes an amazing critique of the latest poorly executed study linking a high meat diet to heart disease.

As if there was any further need to convey the dangers of drinking diet soft drink, Dr Mercola examines the side effects of aspartame.

Everyone needs to eat more superfoods! We all know the usual superfoods, but give these ones a try :-)

I've always been wary of the plethora of vaccines we are giving to young children (even babies!) Imagine if protecting against influenza was as simple as providing them with enough Vitamin D...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fury!!!

I wasn't going to do a post today as I've been flat out travelling and doing job interviews... But I couldn't help share my story as it fits perfectly with Friday Fury sentiment! It will be a short, but to the point post :-)
I was sitting next to a 'large' man on my flight home this afternoon. When I say 'large' I looked like a stick figure next to him, so you get the idea ;-p He was friendly enough, though had no idea his BO was so offensive (I was thankful at this moment for an exit row seat!)... My issue came when they served our afternoon snack.
I was offered a cookie, which I turned down, and an apple, which I accepted. My neighbour declined the food but asked for a "Coke Zero"...
He then said to me "Trying to be healthy hey?" I'm guessing he was trying to get a rise out of me, but I wasn't in the mood so I just smiled and nodded.
"You know that the apple probably has as much sugar as the cookie don't you?" he sniggered as he sipped on his drink of pure poison!
I was actually stunned. Lost for words... Well no, actually, I wasn't lost for words... There were plenty of things I would have liked to say, but I just didn't have the headspace for it! Did this man actually believe he was taking the healthy option by choosing a coke zero over an apple?!?
Yes, yes he did.
I just mumbled something about the apple having beneficial vitamins and minerals in it, but I think he was too distracted, basking in the glow of thinking he had just given me a lesson in eating!
I could now pull so much information and find studies to show the benefits of eating an apple. I could also find lots of scary facts about the additives they make Coke Zero out of. But I'm hoping that since you're reading this blog, you're educated enough to know that if faced with the decision of an apple or a cookie, you understand that the apple is the MUCH healthier option. After all, it is REAL food, the cookie is not. Out of those 3 options though, even worse than the cookie is the Coke Zero!
So, as Peter Griffin would say...
"And that's what really grinds my gears"
Have a good evening!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conventional "Wisdom" Part 1

My post today is inspired by a thread on the Mark's Daily Apple forum about the most controversial 'myths' that Conventional Wisdom has to offer us... This is always going to be the hardest thing about adopting a Primal lifestyle - confronting all of those ideas about health, eating, and fitness that conventional wisdom has drilled into us since we've been born. Here's some of the biggest things that I've struggled with on my short journey:-

1. Eating fat will make you fat...
This one has so many things wrong with it, it's difficult to know where to start. Just understanding that weight gain (and loss) is a hormonal event and that our body's preferred fuel is fat is a stretch! Get to know your fats and avoid the trans-fats which are terrible for you and your body will thank you for it.

2. Chronic Cardio is the best way to lose weight...
Another biggy and not one that I have touched on in depth yet. A combo of strength (heavy weight lifting) and interval training as well as low impact cardio (eg walking, swimming) will lead to bigger weight loss than hitting the treadmill every day for an hour. Try it, I dare you!

3. Grains should be the staple of our diet. Wrong! Oh, but the food pyramid says I should eat 6-11 serves of them per DAY. Totally crazy!
Learn the Real Truth about grains because it's scary... and not just for people who have celiacs disease. Cut out grains for a month, a week even, and notice the difference.

4. If it's low fat, it's healthy for me and I can eat as much of it as I want!
This one kind of relates to no. 1 but I think it deserves it's own post. Eating low fat but high sugar is much, much, much worse for you than eating full fat, real food. And the proliferation of low fat, no fat, "skinny" options available to us now are doing so much damage to our bodies. Wake up! Have full fat milk or cream in your coffee and don't feel guilty!

5. Be careful in the sun - never go outside in the heat of the day without sunscreen or appropriate covering.
I bet you didn't know that Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many serious diseases, including cancer. The idea that we're overdosing on the 'sun safe' campaigns is gaining credibility as more studies come out proving that we actually need vitamin d for optimal health. The recommendation is to get at least 15 minutes of sun, unprotected, per day.

These are just some of the myths I will bring you over the coming months... I'm not telling you that you have to believe anything I say, but maybe just think about it and do your own research - you might be surprised!

Final thought - have you ever heard anyone say "I've stopped drinking soft drink, I only drink Diet Coke now, it's much healthier"!!! Consider the logic of this ;-p

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recipe: Salmon in Creamy Dill Sauce

This has become our staple Monday night meal. We buy our salmon fresh from the markets and so need to use it within a couple of days... The creamy dill sauce perfectly complements the salmon and goes well with any type of vegies you care to serve it with. Salmon is an excellent source of healthy Omega 3s, and though a little on the expensive side, is worth it if you can afford it!

Salmon in Creamy Dill Sauce (serves 2)
2 x salmon fillets (skin on!)
1t coconut oil
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1T chopped dill (if you can't get fresh dill, the dried stuff is just as good)

Preheat oven to 180 degreesC.
Melt the coconut oil in a pan.
When hot, add the salmon fillets (flesh side down) and brown for approx 5mins.
Flip and brown skin side for another 5mins.
Remove from pan and place on baking tray in hot oven (skin side down).
Add cream and wine to pan. Turn heat down so it doesn't boil too rapidly.
Add in garlic and dill and slowly stir.
Cook until sauce thickens.
Serve over salmon fillets with a side of mixed steamed vegies and sliced lemon.
If you have it, avocado is an excellent addition!

First Week of Primal Challenge

So one week down in the Primal Blueprint 30 Day Challenge and honestly, it really hasn't felt like a challenge at all! The food we eat on this eating plan is absoultely mouth watering and we never feel like we are missing out... We're also really enjoying our exercise, having increased our strength training and limiting ourselves to one high intensity sprint session per week.
Take at look at how our first week panned out:-
B'Fast = Walnut, Banana, Strawberry & Blackberry Smoothie with Full Fat Greek Yoghurt & Coconut Milk
M'Tea = Cup of tea with Full Fat Milk
Lunch = Roast Pork and waldorf salad with apples (no dressing)
A'Tea = 1 x corella pear
Dinner = Salmon Fillet in creamy dill sauce with mixed steamed vegies (Recipe coming)
AM Workout = 30min body weights & stretching
Lunch Workout = 30min walk around park
PM Workout = 30min Yoga on Wii Fit
B'Fast = 3 egg omelette with mushroom, tomato, & spinach and 2 chicken sausages
Lunch = Ham & Avocado BAS (Big Ass Salad)
Dinner = Grilled lamb steaks with baked pumpkin and mixed vegies
Lunch Workout = 30min walk down to the lake
PM Workout = 1hr PT session (sprints & abs)
A day of travelling for work still meant No Excuses!
AM = Fasting
Lunch = Mix of caeser (no croutons) and greek salad, filling from 1 mini quiche, assortment of sliced fruit
A'Tea = Handful of nuts and cup of tea
Dinner = Moussaka with greek salad (Recipe coming)
No Workout today :-(
B'Fast = Hazelnut, Banana, Blueberry & Strawberry Smoothie with Greek Yoghurt & Coconut Milk
M'Tea = Cup of tea
Lunch = Left over moussaka
A'Tea = 1 x apple
Dinner = Chicken Parcels (Recipe coming) with sweet potato chips and mixed salad
AM Workout = 30min bodyweight & stretching
Lunch Workout = 30min walk around city
PM Workout = 1hr PT (circuit)
B'Fast = Scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, spinach & feta
Lunch = Grilled barramundi with chips & vegies (eating out reasonable option)
Dinner = Zucchini base pizzas topped with proscuitto, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, bocconcini, rocket and basil
No Workout today
B'Fast = Bacon, eggs, mushrooms & tomato
Lunch = Almond, Banana & Strawberry Smoothie
Dinner = Roast pork with apple and roast vegies
Dessert = Walnut self-saucing pudding & ice cream (a cheat meal as we had guests over!)
No Workout today but put in 2hrs of housework which I figured counted for something :-p
B'Fast = 3 egg omelette with bacon, tomato, mushroom, & spinach
Lunch = Roast chicken with mixed vegies and tabouli
Dinner = Beef & pumpkin casserole
Dessert = Pear slices

Overall, eating this week was good! Our workout schedule could have improved, so that will be our goal this week. We do always get in 35-40mins walking daily by walking to and from work, so I know that if I miss my workout, it's not the end of the world!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Fury!!!

I hope that today’s Friday Fury will give you food for thought, as it did me when I first starting learning about it. I was astounded because I couldn’t believe how the world has been led down the wrong path for all these years, and how one man’s ‘scientific’ studies could change the entire mindset about the world’s nutrition!
I am talking, of course, about Ancel Keys. Don’t know who he is? He was regarded as the “father of dietary science”. His work has had a major influence on the world’s eating regime since the 1950s. I first became aware of Ancel Keys when reading Gary Taubes book "Good Calories Bad Calories". Taubes is a science writer/journalist who examines every scientific study objectively and debunks many of the myths surrounding current day nutritional recommendations. If you’re up for the challenge (it’s quite heavy and scientific) it is the most amazing read!
I’m going to go off tangent for a moment before I discuss the work of Mr Keys, so bear with me. I’m sure most of you remember doing science experiments at school. I was by no means an A+ student, but there were certain basic elements that stuck with me. One was to do with hypothesising. You wrote a hypothesis that could be tested and then set out to prove or disprove it. Generally, you didn’t go in with a pre-conceived idea of what you wanted the results to be, or there was a risk that your results could be biased and become skewed. I certainly wouldn’t have been given very good marks if I had tipped the results one way or the other. And for his “Seven Countries Study”, Ancel Keys gets an F from me!
Keys set out to track the fat consumption and heart disease levels of various countries throughout the world. His hypothesis was that fat consumption causes heart disease. His results were ‘conclusive’. Seven countries saw their levels of heart disease increase in correspondence with their levels of fat intake. Here’s the original evidence that Keys presented:-
 From looking at the above graph, it is quite obvious that his hypothesis can be reasonably confirmed. But here is where the issue lies. Keys omitted some important information from his original study. Although named the “Seven Countries Study”, Keys actually had data from twenty two countries! Why then, you ask, isn’t the information for all twenty two countries shown in his evidence? Because that information blasts his hypothesis to pieces! Take a look at the graph which plots the results of ALL countries (courtesy of Hyperlipid):-
A bit different isn’t it?!? No respectable scientist could reasonably infer from these results that his hypothesis was completely confirmed. Sure, there might be a slight correlation, but there is certainly not enough evidence to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Peter at Hyperlipid has also added in another couple of dots to his graph to plot some countries with traditionally high fat diets (the Masai, the Inuit, the Rendile and the Tokelau), countries that Keys conveniently ignored in his study:-

You could possibly still argue that Keys was onto something. But remember, this study was done in the 1950s and since that time we have seen obesity and related diseases go through the roof. We have been religiously following the no/low fat diet and people are getting sicker. More people are dying from heart disease. I don’t need a study to tell me that it is obviously not working. If you need some further convincing, watch Fathead's exaplanation.
The further issue with a study like this is that when specifically testing one element of the diet, every other element is ignored. Another reason for the Fail mark! A basic understanding of a scientific experiment is that you need to control the other variables. Therefore, every country needed to be eating exactly the same amounts of protein and carbohydrates, basically exactly the same diet, apart from the fat intake. That was the only way to really confirm the hypothesis, otherwise there’s just too many variables!
Notice that all of the countries included in Keys “Seven Countries Study” are highly developed, Western nations. How do we know what other factors could have contributed to high heart disease rates? I would hazard a guess that you could produce the same, if not more convincing results, measuring the sugar/refined/processed grains consumption of these countries. It's always amazing how statistics can be twisted to produce whatever result is desired by the author.
And so, the final piece of the puzzle that Keys drew out of this study was that it is saturated fat that is the bad guy. Bring on the Times Magazine front cover, and adulation the world over, and Keys becoming the “it” man. Saturated fat was off the menu. The low-fat, high carbohydrate diet craze was here to stay!
Apologies for the highly scientific post! I’ve tried to make it as easy to understand as possible. I’m just hoping that people can start to question why they eat a low fat diet. Is it because you truly understand the science behind it? Is it simply because you relate to the notion “fat will make you fat”? Or is it because you’ve had it rammed down your throat since birth? I’ve been there! I’ve knowingly consumed countless tubs of low-fat yoghurt, faithfully poured no-fat milk on my morning cereal, and meticulously cut off every piece of visible fat from a piece of meat. But as you know, it didn't work for me! The challenge, therefore, has been to refocus my thinking. To accept that conventional wisdom is wrong. To not feel guilty when I hoe into that beautiful chicken breast with the skin on... And I encourage you to do the same!
Further reading:- Mark talks about saturated fat, and fats in general.

ps – please keep in mind that you need to consider your other dietary choices as well. I have done amazingly well on a higher healthy fats diet because I’ve have abolished my sugar intake and kept my carb intake to fruits and vegetables only. If you simply start eating high fat food but don’t change any other areas of your diet, you will get fat and sick.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No excuses!

I had a day of travelling for work yesterday. Not unusual in my job and it will probably get more prolific now that our Government has FINALLY sorted themselves out! It would have been easy to forget all of the commitments I've made to myself over the past few months, and in particular since the beginning of this week with the PB Challenge, but no doubt I would have regretted it later. So, I really planned my day in my head the night before, ensuring that I was fully prepared to keep on track with my eating.
A 5:00am start pretty much ruled out any exercise for the morning... And as I had already planned my 18 hour fast from Tuesday night dinner to Wednesday lunch, I didn't need to worry about breakfast. (I won't go into fasting now, but will post on it at a later date - here's some reading from Fitness Spotlight if you're really keen!)... I would have my usual water with lemon juice first thing in the morning (seriously, who can stomach food at 5:00am anyway!) and planned on getting a cup of tea at the airport.
My day went reasonably well, but I made some interesting observations. Society really does have a warped view of eating, if the food options I saw throughout the day are any indication! I guess we can blame conventional wisdom, but it takes all of my willpower to bite my tongue.
Waiting in the Qantas Club before my flight, breakfast options were various cereals and toast, and some fruit. We were then offered breakfast on the plane. I politely refused of course, but even if I had been eating, the offerings weren't even remotely Primal. Weet-bix, a blueberry muffin, low-fat yoghurt, and orange juice. Morning tea at the meeting was a selection of "flourless" chocolate tortes - catering for the gluten free diet - and a fruit platter. Lunch was a combination of sandwiches, wraps, and rolls, mini quiche and some more desserty cakes (not gluten free this time). The gluten free option was a greek salad, which I could eat, and there was also a caeser salad, which I ate but avoided the croutons. I also scooped out the filling from a quiche! If the salad wasn't offered, the 'grain-free' choices were slim to none. On the way home, we were offered an afternoon tea on the plane - plum strudel cake.
It should be obvious to you by now how carb-centric all of this food on offer was! If I had eaten everything that had been available to me during the day, I would have been left feeling seriously bloated and heavy. I don't even want to think about what it would have done to my digestive system. The other issue you will see is how laden with sugar that food is. The weet-bix was the only breakfast offering with minimal sugar. The tortes might have been 'flourless' but I'm guessing were still made with copious amounts of added sugar. Sauces on the sandwiches and salads, and more desserts only add to the concern. And on the plane, I saw one guy eat his studel cake with a cup of coffee that he'd added 4 sachets of sugar to!
I really do hope that we eventually wake up to the damage we are doing to our bodies by eating all this sugar and a diet that is predominantly carbohydrates. Although I think people are aware of the dangers of eating too much sugar, society still blames excess fat consumption for our obesity. And as for low-carbohydrate diets, many flawed studies continue to feed people the myth that they are unhealthy for you. Without public awareness of just how much sugar is added to our food, and how our bodies process and use carbohydrates for energy (excess carbohydrates are stored in the body as fat!) many will continue on oblivious, thinking they are doing the right thing because their diets are low in fat. If you consider the menu that was on offer for me, it certainly would have been low in fat and that is enough to give most people the green light to eat away, regardless of the ridiculous ratio of carbs to protein and fat.
I was fairly happy with how my day panned out eating wise. By the time I got home though, I was wrecked, and so didn't get my usual exercise in. Still, I managed to maintain a predominatly primal eating style while away from my safe haven of home and work!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

15 Plant Types A Day

You might still be having trouble reconciling with some of the Primal Blueprint principles, however I'm sure you can agree with our daily goal to eat 15 plant types per day - after all, no one can argue that vegies and fruit are bad for you! This was a challenge set to us by our awesome personal trainer and it actually works in beautifully with the Primal Blueprint eating plan. The idea is simple - to get as much variety in your meals as possible and to feed your body with the best possible natural fuel - vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds.
Here's how my day is looking so far:-
1. Spinach;
2. Cherry Tomatoes;
3. Strawberries;
4. Lambs Lettuce;
5. Cucumber;
6. Almonds;
7. Carrot;
8. Apple;
9. Macadamia nuts;
And on the menu for dinner:-
10. Pumpkin;
11. Zucchini;
12. Cauliflower;
13. Broccoli;
14. Asparagus;
15. Assorted fresh herbs & spices (basil, parsley, cumin & garlic)
I may have some apricots/peaches for dessert after dinner as well!
Other favourite plant types of ours:-
*blueberries (a SUPERFOOD)
*kale (the farmer didn't have any this week otherwise that would have been on the menu tonight!)
*pumpkin seeds
*red onion
I have no doubt that my body is thanking me for all of this good food I am putting into it - yours will too!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Primal Blueprint 30 Day Challenge Begins

The official PB Challenge starts tomorrow as they have lined it up with the American Labour Day Holiday. Hubby & I thought we’d get a head start though, so we’re prepped and ready to go today! The main reason for this is that it’s much easier to get into the right headspace on a Monday, when you are at the start of your week, and you can set up your habits for the remainder of the week.
Mondays are hard! I’ve always found this with our current work-out schedule. You go to bed on Sunday night with great intentions of dragging your ass out of bed before 6:00am to get in some exercise, but 9 times out of 10, the alarm gets snoozed til you MUST get up or be late for work! The winter just adds another deterring element to the situation... Now that it’s spring though, I’ve figured that time for excuses is over.
I think the Monday-itis has a lot to do with the weekend hangover. Think about it, you’re more relaxed with your sleep patterns over the weekend, which means when Monday hits, you have to reprogram your body for that earlier start. Going from an 8:30am wake up on Sunday to attempting a 5:30am wake up on Monday is near impossible! That could have been the equation facing me this morning...
Instead, last night, I thought about what I could reasonably manage. Going to the gym adds an extra 20 mins onto my time needed in the morning, so that was out. I could go for a walk through the park, but Canberra mornings are still quite chilly, so my motivation for that was not high. I settled on an easy 30 min body weight and stretching session to get my heart pumping and my muscles limber.
I’ll let you in on a little secret now... I still snoozed the alarm this morning! It was set for 6:00am, but I didn’t get out of bed til 6:30am. That’s the beauty of giving yourself plenty of time though. I knew I didn’t need to start getting ready for the day until 7:00am, so I had factored in some snooze time.

Here’s a breakdown of what I did for those first 30 minutes of my morning...

Start with a glass of water + lemon juice – it freshens your breath and provides a good kick start to the day (my mum also says it’s great for me too, so I usually listen!)
I did 3 sets of body weight exercises:-
10 x burpees (these are the bane of my existence, but I know they are good for me!)
10 x push ups (I did as many as I could on my toes (4) and then went to knees for the rest)
60 sec wall squat (a killer in the morning)
10 x tricep dips (I use the dining chair to do these as they are a good height)
60 sec plank (again, another killer, but overall the best core exercise you can do)
These took me approximately 20 minutes – I could usually do this in less time, but it’s still pretty hard to go flat strap first thing so I recommend easing yourself into it!
I finished with 10 minutes of stretching which is without doubt my favourite thing to do in the morning. You really work all those tight muscles and it can even help relieve tension from sleeping incorrectly the night before.

By 7:00am, I was ready to make a start on our breakfast smoothie (banana & strawberry with coconut milk) and prepare our lunch (roast pork & apple waldorf salad). A busy, but productive morning, and I’m going to be feeling good for the rest of the day.
Honestly, the biggest tip I can give anyone starting out their journey is to plan! That might sound a bit “teacher-like” but it is certainly the best way forward. Last night, I planned in my head what I was going to do, how much time I needed, and factored in extra time that I knew I would most likely need on a Monday morning. I plan daily and weekly as it helps me to have a process determined in my mind, which makes me less likely to falter. For example, today I’ve covered off my body weight session, I’ve planned a walk at lunch time (weather permitting), and will do yoga tonight (Wii Fit might have its faults, but I have come to rely on these bi-weekly sessions!).
An even greater level of planning goes into our weekly food plan (80% of body composition comes from what you eat!). I plan on a Friday, as we shop at the Farmers Markets on Saturday, and this allows me to get everything we need for the week. Buying the food according to a plan also raises my awareness of what food we have in the fridge. All too often, when you don’t have food in the house or an idea of what to cook, you can get caught in “I’ll just have take-away tonight” mode. There is also an awareness that fresh food has a used by date and therefore we don’t want to waste it! I’ll do some more in-depth food plan posts at a later date.
Let the 30 day challenge begin!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Fury!!!

Today’s fury is directed towards the fast food industry. Not surprising I’m sure. But it still needs to be said...
How on earth are chains like Maccas, KFC, Hungry Jacks, and, dare I say it, Subway, allowed to get away with it? With the epidemic that is obesity, heart disease, and diabetes sweeping the world, why are we still faced with these issues?
Now I understand that no one is crazy enough to think that eating this type of food is healthy for them. But here’s the catch. “We” are mature, educated adults who can make those decisions for ourselves. I have to ask however, what about our children? In a world where diabetes is now diagnosed in kids as young as 12, where obesity leads to the main causes of death across developed nations, and where, if we continue on this path of self-destruction, this will be the first generation of children born today that have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents, how are we still allowing these fast food giants to entice our children with “Happy Meals” and toys???
So yes, I’m furious. When I see children as young as four years of age being fed this sort of food, I weep for our future. These children don’t have a choice. They don’t have the understanding that the food that you put into your mouth can have a profound effect on your body (granted, some adults seem to miss this point too, but surely they can take personal responsibility for their actions).
I see three levels of blame here.
Firstly, the parents, who, for whatever reason, are regularly hitting up the drive through for their family meals. I was so fortunate growing up that my parents rarely fed me fast food. If we did have Maccas it was on a special occasion such as a birthday. They acknowledged that putting such poor quality food into our bodies was not healthy for us. And we were better for it. Maybe we didn’t always thank them for it at the time, but now as grown adults, we realise how lucky we were to have parents who made an effort for the benefit of our health. Many other children in this day and age are not so lucky.
I often hear the argument that people don’t have enough time or money to cook real food for their family. What a load of bull! If you can’t feed a family of four for under $20 (which is the cost of the Maccas ‘family meals’ currently advertised, then there is seriously something wrong)... The time factor? Come on! Once you factor in the time it takes to drive to the fast food joint, order your meal and pay, and either drive home to eat or find a spot within the restaurant, you could have enjoyed a beautiful home cooked stir fry!
Next, let’s consider the fast food joints themselves. Anyone who has any understanding of child development and psychology knows that if you associate something ‘fun’ with an activity, in this case, eating food, children will become conditioned to associate that feeling with the experience. The problem is that these “happy meals” and the toys that go with them are accompanied by cr@ppy food. Cr@ppy Meals! What child isn’t going to want a meal that comes with the latest Ben 10 action figure! They aren’t mature enough to understand the dangers of continually eating this food over a life time.
The pressure that advertising places on parents, pushing a subliminal message that they are a ‘bad’ parent if they don’t allow their children a regular trip to the local fast food place, is immense. It is understandable how parents get sucked in. And when more parents get sucked in, it becomes a vicious cycle, where children pit their own mums and dads against other ‘better’ parents. “Timmy gets to have a cheeseburger, so why can’t I?” No one wants to feel that they are disappointing their kids, and so they cave to the peer pressure situation. Problem is, while they think they are doing their precious children a favour in the short term, in the long run, they are leading them towards a path of obesity, poor health, and large doctors bills.
Finally, what blame do we place at the feet of the government and food industry regulators who allow this travesty to continue? Why aren’t all fast food restaurants banned from tailoring any advertising at children? Why are they allowed any advertising at all? We’ve made a big step forward in our acknowledgement of the dangers of smoking in the last few years, and I congratulate the government on regulating this industry. The question needs to be asked why isn’t the same emphasis placed on warning people of the dangers of eating fast food?! Considering that obesity-related diseases kill more people each year than smoking-related diseases, isn’t it about time that our government stands up and takes notice?
Certainly the first step would be banning any advertising which encourages children to see McDonalds, KFC, or Hungry Jacks as a fun and happy place to eat food. Happy Meals are dangerous. I don’t believe any child under 12 years of age should even step foot in a fast food restaurant (acknowledging that when children hit the teenage years they are given a bit more responsibility for their choices). Our children should know what a potato looks like when it is not in deep-fried chip form, should enjoy peeling a banana for themselves, and should be learning some basic cooking skills which will set them up for life. Children need to understand that food that comes from a drive-through window is not real food!
Maybe I sound a bit harsh here, but it really saddens me that the health of our children is being sabotaged before they even have a chance to enjoy their lives... Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought and you might re-consider that next cheeseburger :-p

ps - this post today is dedicated to my amazingly fantastic parents who set all of their four children up for life with an understanding of healthy eating and exercise habits - love you mum & dad!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Put Down The Fork!

If only it was that easy to learn from Family Guy! Granted, there may be some merit in Brian’s words, and many people would do well to consider this advice, however if there’s one thing that eating primally has taught me, you really need to consider the type of food you are eating as well! The context of calories that you eat plays a huge role in your total body composition.
I heard recently about a workplace where there was a group of women, all overweight, committed to losing weight. Not an unusual story I’m sure. Also not unusual were their daily lunch habits. Maggi 99% fat free noodles, Continental low-fat cup-of-soup, and replacement shakes. By limiting their calories and fat intake and following conventional wisdom, these women thought they were doing the right thing. As you already know, I’m a fan of eating food with as minimal processing as possible, and so regardless of the fat content, these daily lunch choices will almost certainly continue to lead these women down the path to obesity.
These women couldn’t be accused of not putting down the fork! Those meals aren’t exactly large portion sizes. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve eaten one of those noodle dishes, I’m looking for more food ½ an hour later! And this is where the next dilemma comes in. These women feel like they’ve eaten a healthy lunch and therefore when Tom’s birthday mud cake comes around for afternoon tea, they don’t feel guilty in helping themselves to a slice. They are still hungry and rationalise that their fat free lunch offsets the copious amounts of fat and sugar in the cake!
This is where conventional wisdom fails. Why restrictive diets don't work. Yes, they may work initially but they are not sustainable. Can you imagine eating 2 minute noodles every day?!? Constantly being hungry and feeling guilty if even an iota of fat touches your mouth?!? Those shake replacement meal diets are the worst! Unless you are prepared to give up your regular meals for the rest of your life, evenutally you are going to have to start eating normal food again, and without strict commitment to eating the 'right' type of food, the weight will pile back on again.
Another poignant observation is that not one of those women was ever seen eating a salad for lunch! Rarely did they touch a piece of fruit. I dare say that they could up their daily food intake, and minimise their hunger in the process, if they swapped their noodles for a BAS (big ass salad!). Mark has an awesome Choose Your Own Salad Adventure post to give you an idea of how you can make amazing lunches on a daily basis. Imagine being able to eat more food but lose weight! Salads have become a highlight of our day, even for my husband who is not really a lettuce man! I've been inventive in using left over roast pork to make a pork & apple waldorf salad (minus the dressing) or left over lamb chops to make a grilled lamb and pumpkin greek salad. Avocado (an amazingly healthy fat) has become a favourite addition, as have many different types of nuts. The possibilities are endless and the food is so much tastier than those bland noodle/soup/frozen meal options!
The great thing about the Primal Blueprint is we’ve stopped counting calories. When the bulk of your food comes from vegetables and fruit you don’t need to! It’s so liberating. After I got over the initial feeling of guilt when eating that full fat yoghurt, or the best bit of the chicken (the skin!), it was really refreshing to not have to keep track of everything that goes into your mouth. Of course, we are still aware and mindful of our eating habits, but with a weekly and daily plan, and careful shopping each week, the process becomes simple.