Friday, June 14, 2013

The Annual Post

Hello lovely primal/paleo/clean/mindful eaters!

Since Google killed Google Reader I haven't been getting my notifications of comments awaiting moderation, so my apologies if you've been trying to get in touch. I've posted them all now - thank you so much for the kind words and I love knowing that new people are finding my blog and exploring the recipes along their own journey. It's an absolute joy.

So:

- No, we still haven't renovated the kitchen, so I'm mostly grilling meat and boiling veggies. I'm addicted to sweet potato fries, roast meat and veg from Rhumba's or The Roast Kitchen in Kew, green grapes (out of season now, boo!) and imperial mandarins (in season, hooray!), chai spice tea with a splash of milk, and brie cheese. The year of minimal stove-top cooking has forced me to change my old eating habits, though I still make cauliflower pizza for parties, as well as chicken Caesar salad and maybe some nachos to at least keep my guests from wheat and sugar.

- Yes, I'm still losing weight! My weight hovered around the point I noted last year, and now over the past couple of months I've managed to shave off another 5kg through deliberately limiting any wheat and essentially getting rid of sugar again. I've also been getting more active thanks to my Xbox Kinect and a bevy of games. Tonight I kicked my butt with UFC Personal Trainer - I will be sore tomorrow...

I hope everyone is feeling happier and healthier every day, and that you are following your passions! Blogging is not a passion of mine anymore, though I do miss this community - I'm on Fitocracy as GirlGonePrimal- (had to add the hyphen since someone else is sitting on GirlGonePrimal even though they essentially never use the site, boo!) if you want to get in touch. I'm also on Xbox Live as Jezwyn if you want to try a multiplayer game (I haven't explored playing anything online yet, but I'm game if you are...)

Love your body, love your food, and look after yourself :)

GGP

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Touching Base

First up, I want to say thank you to everyone who has left comments and emails over the past - what, year? I have checked in intermittently, usually when I've come back here to check one of my recipes, and it has been nice to see that my efforts to document my Primal journey are still finding an appreciative audience.

Second, I really want to get back into regular cooking, but we bought a house six months ago and the kitchen is HORRIBLE. The oven is even worse than at the old (rental) house and the stove often loses its flame (but not its gas flow, yikes...) so I have really been avoiding my usual fry/saute cooking methods. BBQ is fun in the warmer weather, but it's icy in Melbourne now. I've been living on frozen food a bit that only needs boiling or baking, and there has been quite a bit of ready-to-eat food too.

So, I'm a long way from the Paleo WOE, but you know what's funny?

I've been losing weight.

I've held on to the massive regain-and-then-some that came from the DepTran horribleness for two solid years, seeing little improvement in my raging appetite and emotional dependency on food. Mostly, I never felt full - my connection to satiety was still broken. I would try fasting and eating to hunger, but nothing was working.

Then, about three weeks ago, I closed my latest play. During this stressful week, I noticed that suddenly I wasn't as hungry; I would eat a little of something - anything, even chocolate - and I would 'know' when I'd had enough! This basic, biological connection had been absent for over three years. And, for reasons I won't elaborate on here, I have a strong feeling that this change is due to emotional reasons, not immediately physiological ones.

So, three weeks of eating 'normally' and I have dropped five kilograms. I'm half-way back to my old 'set point' weight before I originally went low-carb. I would rather eat nothing but primal foods, since I enjoy the other nutrition benefits, but hey! I probably won't keep losing weight once I'm back to the weight I maintained on my pre-2009 junk food diet, but it will be great to get rid of this 'excessive' excess.

Who knows how long this 'normal' appetite control will last, but I will certainly be pleased if its reign is long and joyful! I eat when I'm hungry, and now I can stop easily. Hurrah!

And, when we have enough cash to renovate our kitchen, I'll be able to share my latest yummy recipes with you all - without fear of my oven exploding mid-meal!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Life

Motivation is a funny thing.

I do think about popping on here to update you all with the minutiae of what I'm up to, but the primal-related bits aren't anything I haven't already covered in posts gone by. I refuse to be boring, hence the silence.

Here's the plan: if and when I come up with cool, new recipes for the clean-eating lifestyle, I'll be jumping on here straight away and sharing them with you.

Dinner photos, complaints about cravings, stubborn fat, blah blah - I'll keep that to myself.

Who has the time? Not me.

So, here's what I would have said in the past few months, and you can assume it will stay true of my life for the next while at least:

I'm over-allotted at work, teaching more lessons per week than I should, as well as running the school magazine and Theatresports Club.

I spent the past six months composing, directing and designing the school production, which went up three weeks ago to great applause.

I have formed an a cappella singing group and am writing/arranging new pieces for us at a prodigious rate.

I've joined a band and have a couple of gigs next month for which I have to prepare.

I'm making jewellery as my 'down-time' activity, and am going to get back into selling at markets as well as updating my Zibbet store.

I'm not worrying about food, trying not to really think about it whenever possible, beyond noticing the fact that I feel full earlier than I was last year, and find little urge to over-indulge on nuts, etc. This has given me a chance to see how the same can NOT be said for industrial foods. I finally feel like my hormones are back in order in that respect.

I know that I don't feel as well all the time as I used to; now I swing between being really keen to be active, and needing to sit down. Two years ago, I was happy to walk around the classroom all lesson, last year I'd do anything to stay seated, and now it's more back and forth. When I'm ready, I will be tweaking aspects of diet and lifestyle to see how this effects the subtle shifts in my energy levels. In the meantime, I'm getting a recumbent bike slash rowing machine combo for the living room, to help improve my fitness and reduce the cardio variable in the energy equation.

And then there are my social engagements, quality time with my family, friends and pets (I'm currently caring for a sick guinea pig), time set aside for relaxation (not enough of that), time taken up by marking many, many essays (too much of that)...

My life is too full to justify taking up any more of my time blogging about diet. My journey is boring now. I know lots of things, and I keep reading to learn more. Half the time, when I find something I want to blog about, someone else covers it that very day.

So, this blog will sit here as an archive of recipes, and a health journey which was unfortunately derailed. I'll add to it when I have something of value to say, or hopefully an awesome recipe to share. I'm not going to waste your time with 'filler' material like how to steam a fish. Seriously. When I see that stuff popping up in my feed, it's unsubscribe time. If you haven't got anything interesting to say, don't tell us about your vacation rental.

Bon voyage!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Recipe: Easter's Fruit Buns Gone Primal!

(Before I begin, please let me apologise for the SUCKY quality of the following pics - the food was delicious, but the time of night was far from ideal for phone-cam photography :(

For the last two years, there have been many a delicious aroma flooding the air of the staff corridor at school: buttery popcorn, pizza, crepes... Yet, no delicious scent tugged at my nose hairs (...ew) so much as that of freshly toasted Hot Cross Buns! Both years, I have planned to try my hand at a grain-free, sugar-free version, and somehow missed the boat.

Not this year!

Despite my punishing holiday schedule of play rehearsals, holding choir auditions, hosting visitors, supporting friends' Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows, and recovering from a post-term stress flu, I put today aside as a cooking day, making a huge batch of Nola for the beau, and a pile of cauliflower pizzas for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch.

Then - bun time! With bonus biscuits!

Daylight was done by the time these beauties come out of the oven - a sun-struck snap will get pride of place once dawn breaks tomorrow!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
1 cups coconut flour (or just another cup of almond if you don't like coconut)
250g butter, finely diced
2 T cinnamon (or more, if you love it like I do!)
1T nutmeg
Pinch of salt 
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup maple syrup (optional, but encouraged if you're not using fruit)
3 large apples, peeled and finely diced

Optional - substitute one apple with a cup of juicy fruit of your choice (I would have liked to add sultanas/raisins but the beau's gut doesn't like them)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 175 deg Celsius. Line muffin pans or grease/paper a slide.

2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, spices, and butter. Using your hands - yes, do it! - rub the butter into the flour mix until the whole lot resembles fine crumbs. Then, add the maple syrup and egg yolks, and still well. Feel free continue the manual manipulation, but be prepared for stickiness.

3. Add the chopped apple (and other fruit, if using), and stir. Be sure to dice your apple more finely than I did - I had to use my stick blender to make the apple-y dough more consistent, and lost some of that delicious baked-apple crunch.



4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until fluffy. Add gently to the large bowl, and fold until both mixtures are combined.


 5. Softly roll balls of the mixture and place onto greased slide or into muffin pans. For a glossy finish, top with some egg white and/or milk (I didn't bother this time).


BONUS: I decided to save some mixture to see how it would go as biscuits, so I lined another slide , rolled some smaller balls of apple-y dough, and topped a few with 100% cacao buds.


6. After 45 - 60 minutes in the oven (or about 30 - 40 minutes for the biscuits), the buns should be golden brown on the outside and should withstand a prod without feeling at all squidgy. The photo below is a decent indicator of the final product as produced by my temperamental oven, despite the lack of natural light.


Although I'm not at all religious, why pass up the chance to top my baked goodies with chocolate?? For these criss-crosses, I melted some 100% cacao with some butter, then lead the mix across the cooled buns with a knife. Of course, at any other time of year, you can use the excuse of aesthetic merit and drizzle the chocolate stylishly over the fruity goodness.

 

Thus far, they've received the nod of approval from the beau's sister, who is visiting for a few days, and I've enjoyed a couple of the biscuits. The beau will be trying one when he gets home, and I have high hopes...

Serving suggestion - slice the buns in half, then toast in the oven. Top with a generous amount of butter, and some sliced banana or strawberry compote. Of course, some whipped cream never goes amiss! These could easily pass as scones, given the lack of yeast, so they're perfect for High Tea.

Keep your extras in an air-tight container to maximise their lifespan. Don't forget that coconut flour tends to be quite drying, and this effect increases as the buns age.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm Still Here!

I can't believe that it has been a month - a MONTH! - since my last post! Time flies when you're being worked to the bone and doing your best to make relaxing use of any and all downtime! I only have time for a brief post today (the backlog of recipes will have to wait!) but I wanted to check in. :)

The b*tchy blogosphere - has anyone else noticed how desperately depressing and negative the blogging circles have become lately? I have 700+ posts sitting in my rss reader that I can't seem to make any dent into, since I keep hitting these cynical and peer-sabotaging posts from the most surprising of sources. Blog reading used to be a relaxing and exciting passtime - now it tends to be another stress that I should do my best to live without. I don't feel like I'm missing much though, since most of the half-decent posts are about topics I already know about, or have surpassed in my own learning. One of the only blogs I'm keeping pace with is Matt Stone's 180 Metabolism, since some provocative statements have been coming out of there of late! I still love blogs where the quality of the comments draws you back for more.

Following on from that, I had a backlog of unpublished comments to approve, and found some ZC nutjob screaming at my PCO post, telling me that the amount of protein I was eating was too much (and where exactly did they get my quantity info? Not even I could tell you that number...), and and that same time I should be eating more beef and lean fish, plus lots of fat... Nice. Great that these 'anonymous' commenters take the time and effort to read all of my blog so they can make such helpful comments ;)

Now, I am still mid-experiment when it comes to what I'm eating lately - I'm trying to nourish my body as well as my mind, which means continuing to step off the orthorex-pedal and lessen the stress. I'm fatter than I think I have ever been in my life - my muffin-top is more of a full loaf - but my face is still more slender than it was 5 years ago. Everything else is generally blorpy. I've been buying more fat clothes so that I don't have to put myself through the pain of ill-fitting clothing every morning. While I'm not about to make my peace with being this fat, I'm trying not to think about it whilst still monitoring some other health markers. I'm not going anywhere near scales though - I don't think I've been on one at all this year. Anyroad, the image that is developing is that I will need to be very careful about hormonal balance when it comes to my body, metabolic processes and fertility, so I have a bit of a path worked out so that  I can sustainably pursue the shedding of excess fat without shocking my system, etc. I'm totally drug-free, even though this means my damaged nerve ending will stay damaged for a while yet, and possibly become more sensitive as time goes on.

Now for something entirely stream-of-consciousness:

I've been making popcorn in a cast iron crock pot, with coconut oil and raw butter! It makes me feel so retro! :)

I have broken my 11-year make-up habit and have pared my routine back to just a finely buffed layer of mineral powder by Bare Minerals. A touch of eye, and I'm good to go. I also now own nine pairs of prescription eyewear, so I can still add some visual interest to my face without straying into drag queen territory. My skin is thanking me! My summer tan has worn off, so it's time to take out the blonde lights in my hair - my project for today! Even the natural dyes stink though - blech...I'm a theatre baby though - I love dressing up!

I'm noticing a very strong force of satiety hitting me during or after meals of late. On primal/paleo/carnivore WOEs I would feel satisfied, but not like I would throw up if I kept eating. And I don't mean 'stuffed' in either case. It's very interesting to me. I've also found that my body really doesn't like the prospect of eating meat lately, although once it is cooked and I'm tasting it, I love it. I feel a bit ill some mornings and late-afternoons, suggesting blood glucose fluctations or something, so I think I'll go invest in a BG tester and have a look at what's going on there. Some days I'm not interested in food til after work; others, I feel like I'll collapse or chuck unless I get something down before school. I've followed the insulin theories and the Matt Stone theories, but my responses haven't lined up well with either, so it's time for bloodwork I reckon. I still eat mostly whole-foods, so I tend not to blame my diet just yet... We'll see!

The school play is in full-swing and I've been spending a lot of time working on the music. It's a huge job but I love it!

Last weekend, my family stayed in Daylesford, in a luxury holiday house that had a room for each of the three couples, and one for the cat ;) We went horse riding on the Saturday - I had to ride in my Vibram KSOs since they didn't have boots for us, like most trail riding places do. It was lovely to wear them and feel the horse's flank more clearly; however, my saddle was too small to cater for my extra thigh blorp and consequently I was in a lot of pain when it came time to canter and I had to try and grip the horse with my legs. Ick. On the Sunday, I took my jewellery to the Daylesford Sunday Market and spent the day (including far too many pre-dawn hours) showing off my stuff to folks wandering between junk stalls and carnival food trailers. I sold quite a bit though, and it was nice to see people finding pieces they really like and trying them on. It's much nicer to see how pieces will look in person than dealing with the mystery of Internet purchases, for seller and buyer! Market stalls are a lot of preparation, cost and work though, but if I didn't work full-time I could image doing the market circuit... Now to set up at a market in the city..!

Despite all my time commitments, my kitten still rules my world. :)

I had better leave it there - lots of essay to mark, and I'd like to get them all done today so that I can go and participate in a massive dance 'performance' (more like 'interactive event') in the city tonight. Should be fun!

Hope all is well in your world and that you're finding the fun!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bits & Pieces II

I have so many things I want to post about (including some new recipes!) but, with my birthday coming up on Monday, and the school play kicking into rehearsal mode, I'm finding myself spending fewer and fewer hours in front of my computer.

However, the latest gargantuan post by the even-handed and intellectual Denise Minger from Raw Food SOS (the writer and location of the exceptional take-down of The China Study), is an elegant dissection of the sat-fat-phobia that remains all-pervasive in the USDA, influencing their 2010 Food Guidelines. As Denise says:

Bottom line: These guidelines will guide you alright—straight to your spot in the pharmacy line. Look elsewhere for advice if you’re serious about your health.

 In a recent discussion with an old friend of mine, I listened to a description of frustration: my friend was spending 8 hours a week in the gym, mostly doing cardio, "not dieting" but somehow restricting herself to 1600kcal a day and not consuming ANY saturated fat. This friend is trying to slim down for a special event, and yet is finding herself gaining belly fat. I tried to explain to her the causes of her gain (over-training, cortisol imbalance, insufficient food, no dietary fat so minimal vitamin absorption, etc) but the likelihood of her taking my word over the dominant messages coming from 'health' magazines, websites and most medical professional is, for want of a better word, slim.

Weight Watchers is happening at my school again for interested staff, so I have to try to block out the rants coming from the other part of the staffroom explaining how good these 5-point buns are, the perfect morning tea, keeps you full til lunch! ... *facepalm*

Even though I'm still relaxing my approach to food, at least I know what I'm doing and why, and I'm following the advice that my body gives me and that my reading has developed. My anger over the lies the diet industry and lipophobes have spread since before my lifetime was strong enough - I almost hope the Weight Watchers folks never see the day when the media finally reports the current metabolic and dietetic science; what a way to then regret the wasted years.

Let's hope that, in any case, the information comes out soon so that this generation's bevy of genetically-cursed children of metabolically damaged mothers and fathers have a hope of out-living those parents.

Think of the babies! Won't someone think of the babies?!!
Now I will leave you and return to my song-writing for my little vocal group, play with my kettlebells, help my kitten burn off some energy, and get excited about seeing Lily Tomlin tonight! Last night: Tim Minchin! This birthday girl is truly spoiled!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pursuit of Health - No more PCO (for now?)!

Apart from a bout of pneumonia when I was very young, and picking up the annual cold or spatter of gastro, I have always had a rock-solid constitution and have never suffered chronic or acute health woes.

It''s a shame that I've almost always been a bit chunky - having a bit of a gut when you're young promotes rude or judgemental comments from adults (who usually think they're being funny and that the jokes will go over your head), and over-reactions from parents. Having a muffin-top in your teenage years soon develops into self-consciousness and ridicule. Kids can be very cruel.

Society, and the medical industry, say it loud and proud - being overweight is unhealthy.

Really?

I was a champion in the 'throwing' events at school, and was a competitive swimmer - until one of my teachers made a comment about the fact that I wore a towel around my waist to 'cover up' (I just thought my towel was pretty and wanted to show it off). I walked up to 3km from the bus stop to my farm almost every day, with a couple of musical instruments and a heavy bag of books in tow.

(Men who don't like to read about women's issues might want to skip this next bit)

The first real health battle of my adult life is/was my PCO - a reproductive situation which appeared as incomplete ovulation and resulting lack of menstruation.

Given recent events, it would seem that this issue may have stemmed from my pursuit of weight loss.

Just over two months ago, I finished my Yasmin-driven menstrual cycle. I stopped taking my pill, and waited to see if nature would take its course. I have been trialling this method of 'testing' every three months or so for the past year.

What made this trial different? I was back to my original weight (more fat than before, though), and I was enjoying sweet potatoes and fruit regularly. Stress was diminishing as the teaching year tapered away to nothing, and the weather was showing signs of pending loveliness.

Three weeks after I stopped taking Yasmin, my period arrived. With the severity of the cramps and the brevity of menstruation, this clearly was not the doing of the pill. This was back to my high school suffering. Four weeks after that, I had another one. Crampy death pain hell.

Hurrah!

So kids, what to make of this?

Was it the sudden drop of 5kg of body fat in January '09 that threw my body for a loop, and stopped it recovering until that fat has been restored? I have read many times that a girl's weight during puberty sets the normality level for her reproductive system, and swings this way or that in weight or body composition can confuse said system...

Was it the fact that I cut carbs to 20g per day, except for Christmas '09 and much of '10? Was running on ketones insufficient to adequately feed all systems in my body?

Was I failing to meet my caloric needs? We can scrub this one since during my carnivore experiments I ate far beyond my caloric needs, although the ketone question may come back into play here.

Was it the combination of drugs - BCP and another nerve-repairer like DepTran? This is possible if the problem started pre-2009 but was masked by the pill - but then why weren't other 'tests' successful?

The only way to know is to try self-experimentation and to gather the experiences of others with PCO, but this would not be enough to establish a cause. The medical profession still has no idea what causes PCO. I would have been quick to blame environmental factors in the past, but the return of ovulation defies this hypothesis.

Nevertheless, I wanted to put this bit of intimate detail into the blogosphere since the PCO post is the most visited of my posts, and since my situation is reversed, I want to let fellow sufferers know that there is hope!

Additionally, although PCOS is related in some way to insulin resistance, and shows some improvement when treated with a low-carb diet, there's a chance that non-PCOS PCO could actually be caused or impacted upon by a low-carb diet. I would be interested to hear from others who try or have tried tweaking their diets and what results they've seen.

But first, I will be trying the harder of the possible 'causes' of PCO to see whether my periods cease - lose fat. Since I'm eating paleo foods at least 90% of the time (including sweet potato, but not normal potato, rice, or dark chocolate), it's easy for me to stick to my new 'normal' eating plan. I don't think about it much, but I fast all day on work days since I'm not usually hungry and don't have time to futz in the kitchen or sit in the staffroom and watch colleagues eat garbage whilst they talk about Weight Watchers..! I eat something (often mashed sweet potato and butter) when I get home, and then have dinner with the beau. Ultimately, I'm trying to ignore food until hunger kicks in, and this will be made easier when fruit season finishes! I haven't been eating enough meat either, with this hot weather keeping me away from my usual home in the kitchen. I'm sure you will have heard about the manic weather in Australia of late - massive flooding, cyclones, heat waves... Good times! The hot weather is also partly to blame for the lack of posts - the computer room is usually the hottest place in this house, and the laptop is too hot to have on one's lap too long. The other reason for the quiet period was because I was waiting for my, er, period so that I could write this post!

With this year's school play about to begin rehearsals, I need time flexibility. Fasting works elegantly for me, and now that the house is no longer a giant sauna I will be capitalising on the fast by working out before dinner. Rather than paying for my belly dancing and circuit classes, I'll be looking for shorter, harder workouts like the Tabata training I played with last year, though my fatty misery meant I didn't enjoy the experiences, thus becoming unsustainable. I'm in a better state of mind now, though you couldn't pay me to get on the scales! I received a big discount on some Zumba classes across town, so that will become my 'play' time. I know that exercise is not enough to cause fat loss, but I'm hoping that physical stimulation will signal to my brain that it should crave healthy food and discourage over-eating since excess with be-labour my digestive process and slow me down!

Mission: Retain reproductive health. Encourage my body to physically reflect the healthy state it is in. Continue to relax my attitude toward my excess chub. Eat really well. Continue to use this blog as a feeder into the primal community, since clearly my experiences are not unique.

Finally, I recently began to doubt whether I really wanted to be a teacher, given the prospect of teaching a subject I'm not that interested in, and not getting much support for the programs I have started and continue to run alone for very little monetary and time compensation.

Today was day four with students back at school.

I knew by the middle of day one that I was where I was meant to be.

I was born to be a teacher, I love students, I love my subjects, I love my relatively short but intense work day, and I love the fact that I can give extra experiences to my students by means of running plays and so on even if I don't get that much in return! Let's face it, I'm a giver.

For myself, I have my dancing, cooking, jewellery-making, reading, and entertainment pursuits. This blog helps me to get my ideas in order and keep my recipes at hand, but it's really here for the rest of you, whether you have fellow health-seekers in your social circle or only online. I am pleasantly surprised by positive comments, and shake off the negative ones, but could quite happily run this blog without a comment section since I write it like a book, not as a beacon of attention. I consider comments as the commenter's book, sharing ideas as much with fellow readers as with me. Read and write on, lovely visitors - your experiences and perspectives have just as much a chance of inspiring someone to health success as my posts. :)

FOOD PORN TIME!

Oh hey, ten litres of awesome coconut oil, sup? (Let's just ignore for the moment that I actually ordered ten 1L containers, and that nui have ignored all my emails requesting empty containers to 'decant' the oil into, since it was bought to give to friends & family... Nui = crapness. Their oil's okay, but they won't be getting any more of my money.)

Bacon & veggie frittata!!

The leftovers

Homemade beef burgers cooked on the BBQ, and summery salad.

I made sushi! Rice is for lame-o's.

Typical dinner - hunk of meat (chicken), mashed sweet potato, assorted green veg. Yum!

See above, though with tomato instead of sweet potato. Obviously was too hot to be boiling things that night!
Happy February!