Thursday, January 28, 2010

A New Academic Year, A New Academic Experiment

Today marked my return to the educational institution I call my second home. My holidays are officially over, and once again I'm faced with the reality of what most people consider 'normal eating habits'. Case in point - morning tea & lunch were provided to the staff today. I didn't even bother going to the social staffroom to see what 'food' was served for morning tea, but I did cross the hall at lunchtime with an ultimately misplaced glimmer of hope. I was greeted with platters of party pies and sausage rolls, deep-fried spring rolls, tiny club sandwiches with minimal filling, and nori (sushi) rolls with sugary mayo coating the fillings.

I am seriously considering making a formal request for the food provided at such events to be whole, nourishing, and at least avoiding the most common allergens in at least ONE food option!

This experience further consolidated my idea regarding a new way of eating I wanted to try. I love sticking to a carnivorous diet - I feel energetic and lithe - but I am repeatedly reminded that for many people merely adhering to a low-carb plan is difficult enough, let alone a 'hardcore' regime such as Zero Carb. One of my passions is education, and whilst I know that self-experimentation can only ever be an n=1 study and that my results only prove what may work for me, not what definitely works for the general populace, one of the primary motivations for maintaining this blog is to use myself as a demonstration of feasibility. Since ZC seems out of reach of most people, who may do just as well on a more varied diet anyway, I have decided to option my options back up to include all Primal fare, whilst experimenting with a way of eating that has been making waves through recent scientific reports, and has a rich history of anecdotal success across a longer period of history. It has links to evolutionary eating patterns, breaks away from the socially conditioned patterns of eating, and helps to maintain a caloric deficit without hunger and without long-term harm of metabolic capacity.

I speak, of course, of Alternate-Day Fasting.

The general premise comes in many guises - Up Day Down Day Diet, Feast or Famine Diet, etc. A popular term for a more flexible approach is the Eat Stop Eat protocol, although this is not intermittent calorie restriction if the post-fast meal makes up for the calories missed by the fast. Long-time readers of this blog and other blogs in the primal community will be no stranger to the concepts of intermittent fasting, which I practice sporadically, particularly during the working week where finding time for a primal lunch is a pain in the loincloth.

However, this experiment is going to take a stricter approach than my usual 'meh, I'm going to fast until dinner today' spontaneity. This is in order to hopefully create stronger causal links between my programme and my results, and also to make my trial easier to replicate, should readers wish to do so. The goal here is not just intermittent fasting, but intermittent caloric restriction.

The basics:

On my 'normal' day, I will eat my usual primal diet, with a focus on meat & eggs, eating fat to satiety, and including a range of vegetables. On occasion, I will also include fruit & nuts. My usual carb range, even when eating what feels like a lot of vegetation, is 20g per day or less, but I will not worry if this number increases on normal days, so long as I stick to low glycaemic load foods. Given my history, when eating to satiety I tend to consume around 1800-2200kcal per day. I will not be watching this figure too closely for the first weeks.

On my 'alternate' day, i.e. every second day, I will consuming around one quarter of the amount of calories consumed the previous day. This may be achieved through only consuming one meal per day, eating a number of small meals, or perhaps a complete fasting excepting a few doses of coconut oil. I am very comfortable fasting until dinner time, so I suspect this will be my preferred method.

Numerous studies and anecdotes have demonstrated the relative ease with which individuals can adhere to this way of eating, even when the food consumed is not low-carb. For those people, the opportunity to induce lipolysis by having low insulin levels during fasting periods is a novel way to lose weight. For us, the benefit of fasting is more closely tied to the idea of triggering the release of 'survival' hormones through fasting and caloric restriction, enhancing our fat-burning that way, whilst keeping our metabolism intact. Fasting in general is also an accessible way to achieve caloric restriction without having to always count calories. So no matter where you sit on the 'relevance of calorie counting' discussion, alternate day fasting (ADF) has visible potential.

Many, many people have discussed regimes similar to ADF, and for those of you who want hard data and expert opinion, here are just some of the people on my blogroll and their articles exploring the concept:

Mark Sisson - Feast or Famine Diet

Matt Metzgar - The Alternate Day Diet & Intermittent Calorie Restriction.

Chris @ Conditioning Research - Intermittent Fasting: more research

JP @ Healthy Fellow - Alternate Day Fasting


Richard Nikoley - Alternate Day Fasting, Weight Loss & Food

Unlike ZC/carnivorism, where my goal is as much about maintaining a positive sense of well-being as it is a potential fat-loss method, ADF has the singular aim of fat loss. I don't expect to feel better or more energetic on this plan than I do whilst on normal primal eating patterns, and certainly not better than when eating only animal products since I have repeatedly demonstrated to myself that there's just no substitute if I want to feel great AND have a smooth belly AND have an excellent sense of balance in all my physiological systems. ADF is all about the bottom line. And my hope is that I'll end up with results that inspire others to give it a shot and lend weight (no pun intended) to ADF as a potential fat-buster for those who lack the will-power to give up unhealthy food choices, or cannot break psychological ties to food, whether they are truly emotion-based or due to insulin imbalances. If we can get obesity under control, that's a step in the right direction.

It begins:

As a control measure, I took a few days to reintroduce fibre into my system, eating to satiety and then some in order to boost my metabolic rate. I was picking up on some flu symptoms, possibly caused by excessive air-conditioning whilst up north, so I wanted to re-feed my body to give it a good chance of fighting off whatever was ailing me.


After a much-needed sleep-in, I served up a large, fresh salad with an array of seafood topping options: salmon sashimi, grilled salmon, and fried seafood marinara.

For dinner, I whipped up my favourite, Caveman Chicken, served with aspects of Veggie Cornucopia, plus wilted beet leaves.


Started the day with The Usual - ham & cheddar omelette.

We were off to the Australian Open, so I packed up some leftover Caveman Chicken & veggies for a decadent lunch whilst watching Davydenko slowly pulverise Verdasco. My meal was more interesting than the match - thankfully, the rest of the day was riveting watching, even though it was not a good day for the last two remaining Aussie challengers.

I had assumed that there would be nothing but rubbish served at the Open and that I would be sure to miss out on dinner. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a 'sizzling salads' stand, serving nothing but fresh salads (Greek, Mediterranean, or Green) topped with grilled meat (beef or chicken, or crumbed calamari). Delight and rapture! And a bonus - we were late getting dinner, and the stall was packing up for the day, so they stuffed my bowl as full of meat & veg as it could contain!

Tuesday - The First 'Normal' Day

The debut of the suddenly-infamous Coconut Pancakes... Sooo gooooood....

Inspired by the Mediterranean salad on offer at the tennis, I roasted up some pumpkin, capsicum, zucchini and carrot, and served it with another range of seafood options - smoked salmon, fried calamari and baby octopi!

After two big meals, we were happy with leftover salad and some barbecued lamb chops and snags for dinner. I went for some chipollatas from Jonathan's.

Wednesday - The First 'Alternate' Day

I effortlessly fasted through breakfast and lunch, distracted by the business of getting ready for the return of the students on Monday. Of course, fasting is pretty much a breeze when you know you're going out for dinner at Rockpool Bar & Grill! My usual order is the $50 Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 month old Grass Fed Fillet (250g), but tonight I felt like something a bit more special. So I upped the ante and went for the David Blackmore Mishima Grass Fed (From A Marble Score 9+ Animal) Rump (240g). Wow! The exquisiteness of this amazing beef was solidified when I was offered a piece of my usual order, as purchased by the beau's Mom... The comparison between that 'really good' steak and the utter amazingness of the tender, buttery-textured Mishima is indescribable. Go get it! We accompanied our hunks of gorgeous animal with sautéed zucchini and wilted greens (broccolini, leek, and cabbage). Culinary perfection.

My first round of ADF is in the bag! I barely consumed 600kcal today, yet five hours after dinner I'm still feeling fine. Bring on Round #2...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Recipe: Coconut Pancakes

The beau's mother brought me a package of coconut flour from North America, so yesterday I had my first chance to play with its primal potential. First on the list - coconut pancakes!

Note - coconut flour tends to create dry pancakes as the flour is completely de-fatted, so be generous with your coconut oil and stingy with your cooking time.

Coconut Pancakes


50g coconut flour
4 pastured eggs
3T melted coconut oil (plus extra for frying pan lubrication)
1/2 cup (or so) water


1. Combine flour and eggs in a large bowl.

2. Add oil and stir well.

3. Gradually add water to the mixture whilst stirring, until the consistency is just shy of runny. (You could try going for a runnier mixture, but this will make your pancakes even more fragile)

4. Add a generous blob of oil to your frying pan and heat until oil is about to sizzle.

5. Spoon desired amounts of mixture into the pan and press/stretch into flat shapes.

6. Leave to fry until base is firm and edges begin to brown.

7. Flip pancakes carefully, washing for splashing oil. Allow to cook until other side has browned and centre is firm.

8. Remove from heat and serve immediately, or keep warm and covered (trap steam to maximise moisture level of pancakes).

Sensational served with fresh or defrosted fruit (defrosted has the bonus of resultant juice being used to add more moisture to the cakes), dollop dairy cream, grated 100% cacao solids, and maple syrup if you consume sugars.

Variant - Cocoa-Nutty Coconut Pancakes:

In place of the straight coconut flour, use 30g coconut flour, 20g almond flour, and a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. Yum!

UPDATE: 4th Feb, 2010

I just made another batch of coconut/almond pancakes, but this time the ingredients & ratios were thus:

15g almond flour
15g coconut flour
1T macadamia nut butter
2 large pastured eggs
2T water

The macadamia butter added back some of the oils wrenched out of the nut flours in a more effective way than by adding coconut oil back into the mix. The batter was smooth and a bit runny - runny enough to pour into the pan, and just thin enough to really fluff up, with bubbles reaching the top of the cooking pancake and everything!

(Ooooh, bubbles!!)

Utterly divine, and served savory with cream cheese for variety! (Apologies for the effects of over-heated butter - I dry my hair while my breakfast cooks, so I was a bit far away to notice it starting to brown!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Recipe Index Post

Recipe Index
Click on the titles to be taken straight to the recipe page, or scroll down for the alphabetical listing of each recipe with description and picture to whet your appetite!

(These categories are just guidelines of how and why I usually make these recipes, but there's no reason why you can't have roast beef for breakfast and pancakes for dinner!)

Almond Pancakes

Bacon-Wrapped Mini Frittata
Coconut Pancakes
Grain-Free Granola (Nola!) & Nola: The Final Cut

Appetisers & Sides
Caveman Crab Cakes
Chicken Liver Paté
Coconut Curry Soup

Feta & Capsicum Mini Frittata

Fried Chicken Fingers
Kale Chips
Kangaroo Balls
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Fries
Savory Zucchini Slice
Spinach & Cashew Pesto
Sunflower Sesame Crackers

Baked Almond Snapper
Baked Rainbow Trout with Cream Sauce
Baked Trout
Beef Curry I
& Beef Curry II
Cauliflower Pizza
Caveman Chicken
Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken with Coconut Curry Coating
Chunky Chicken Burgers
Coconut Chicken Curry
Coconut Crusted Salmon
Corned Beef Silverside & Veggie Gravy
Creamy Coconut Beef Curry
Frittata (Crustless Quiche)
Frittata Lorraine
Italian Chicken & Beef Sauté
Kanga & Bacon Frittata
Lamb, Basil & Garlic Roll-Ups
Lots'a Layers Lasagne
Oopsie Pizza
Pizza Burgers

Pizza Cake
Tyrolienne Beef & Kidney Stew
Veggie Conucopia
Warm Beet Medley Salad
White Fish Fingers

Almond & Coconut Biscuits
Apricot & Walnut Balls
Cherry Ripe Bites
Choc-Avocado Mousse
Choc-Berry Pie
Choc-Cherry Tart
Chocolate Sponge Cake
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Choco-Nutty Treats
Fruit 'N' Nut Crumble


Alphabetical Listing & Descriptions:

Almond & Coconut Biscuits - a reliable and tasty baseline for endless variation - try adding chopped macadamia nuts, or cocoa and mint oil...

Almond Pancakes
- these delicious babies are amazing any time of the day, and my Mum & the beau's Mom both enjoy them for breakfast everyday. See also: Coconut Pancakes.

Apricot & Walnut Balls - a healthy, sweet snack that travel well, if you can stop yourself eating them! Also delicious when you substitute dried dates for the apricots, and any nuts in place of the walnuts. Dates, cocoa & almonds may be my favourite combo now. Beware of the high sugar content of dried fruits.

Bacon-Wrapped Mini Frittata - because everything's better wrapped in bacon, especially eggy goodness!

Baked Almond Snapper - a collision between fried fish fingers & the desire to serve huge slabs of fish intact!

Baked Rainbow Trout with Cream Sauce - still one of my favourite recipes, as it maintains the moisture and flavour of the fish, whilst adding the extra flavours via the sauce, without necessitating a mucky, questionable white sauce mix to do so.

Baked Trout - a delicious trout preparation involving eggplant and gourmet sauce. Wonderful served with Warm Beet Salad Medley (part of same post).

Beef Curry I
& Beef Curry II - a house favourite: a hearty but mild curry, with the meat ending up tender and flavoursome. Best served with Cauliflower Rice (see comment section of Beef Curry I).

Cauliflower Pizza - a must-have in any primal eater's repertoire! A delicious way to still enjoy pizza without the need for a grainy crust. It does require a copious amount of cheese - for a potentially dairy-free pizza option, try Meatza!

Caveman Chicken - my favourite! The combination of my tangy, nutty sauce and some freshly roasted chicken is a miracle to behold! (Recipe & image also include a range of veggie side dishes to compliment the main meal)

Caveman Crab Cakes - a great appetiser or entree for the crabmeat lover. Great by themselves, or can be used like a bread to spread tasty dips upon.

Cherry Ripe Bites - bite-sized sweet treats for those who want a healthy alternative to a beloved confection. Incredibly luxe, and make a fabulous gift.

Chicken Enchiladas - a visually-impressive yet simple meal of enchilada-esque fillings wrapped in a thin round of fried egg. A great one for the kids.

Chicken Liver Paté - a tasty way to enjoy the health benefits of free-range chicken liver that even the kids will like! Perfect served with Sunflower Sesame Crackers. (Image borrowed from since my photo doesn't do the recipe justice!)

Chicken with Coconut Curry Coating - a savoury hit, keeping the chicken gorgeously moist, and the coating crisp and tasty!

Choc-Avocado Mousse - my new favourite paleo dessert; it's like creamy chocolate ice-cream, without the dairy and sugar! Rich and scrumptious, and amazing served as a dip for strawberries!

Choc-Berry Pie - a decadent dessert of chocolate, fruit & nuts. Makes one devilishly heavenly breakfast!

Choc-Cherry Tart - the powerful antioxidant punch wrapped in a sweet, individually portioned package of almond crust & chocolaty filling, with cherries nestling inside.

Chocolate Sponge Cake - a ridiculously easy recipe for chocolate sponge, perfect for layered cream/fruit arrangement. Recipe can also be used to make muffin-sized snacks.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins - a surprising combination of alchemic ingredients create a tasty and convincing baked snack. Try it on your non-primal friends, see if they can pick the difference...

Choco-Nutty Treats - the perfect chocolate craving queller - a healthy snack that satisfies our pleasure centres whilst delivering a healthful dose of coconut oil. Play with different nuts, dried fruits, mint oil, etc for endless variety.

Chunky Chicken Burgers - for when you want something lighter than your normal beef patty.

Coconut Chicken Curry - a nice and easy coconut cream-based curry - rich, tasty, and so satisfying!

Coconut Crusted Salmon - I wanted to add some more crunch and colour to my usual crusted fish fillet - enter, coconut flakes!

Coconut Curry Soup - a creamy, rich soup with enough zing to warm away the Winter chills from mouth to tummy! Perfect as a tasty veggie soup or you can add pretty much any kind of meat for a delicious, well-rounded meal.

Coconut Pancakes - for those with nut sensitivities, pancakes are still possible! Use coconut flour or, even better, make your own by blitzing shredded coconut, which still has the healthy fats in pace, and is much much cheaper! See also: Almond Pancakes.

Corned Beef Silverside & Veggie Gravy - a slight twist on the usual preparation of corned beef, plus a tasty replacement for those awful grain-based sludges they call gravy...

Creamy Coconut Beef Curry - a mild but hearty beef curry, featuring coconut cream for that creamy texture. Quite the saucy dish, this one!

Dips! This post details the recipes of eight delicious recipes for your next party - or even just as a healthy paleo snack! Includes: Chunky Beetroot & Herb Chutney, Nice & Naughty Nightshade Dip, Roast Pumpkin Puree, Refreshing Zucchini & Coriander Dip, Creamy Spinach & Basil Pesto, Anchovy & Olive Paste for Serious Savory Lovers, Smoked Salmon, Onion & Olive Dip, and Prawn Paté. Fabulous served with Sunflower Sesame Crackers.

Feta & Capsicum Mini Frittata
- the perfect picnic piece - small in size but big on flavour! (Recipe & image also include Pizza Burgers.)

Fried Chicken Fingers - they look like junk food, they taste like (good) junk food, yet they're all primal, all paleo, and all satisfying!

Frittata (Crustless Quiche) - the basic formula for a tasty, never-fail meal that can be adapted to suit almost any dietary need (unless you don't eat eggs!)

Frittata Lorraine - a quick and easy meal with a classic flavour combination. A reminder of the meals that are part of the conventional Western diet that still follow evolutionary guidelines (with or without cheese involved). Scroll to the end of the post for the recipe.

Fruit 'N' Nut Crumble - probably doesn't need a description, and you can substitute your favourite fruit & nuts into the mix with ease. An always-pleasing favourite for primals & non-primals alike.

Grain-Free Granola (Nola!) - the anti-cereal to fill that cold cereal void.
Update: Check out Nola: The Final Cut for my tried & true, totally grain-free, easy recipe that's now a staple of the beau's diet.

Italian Chicken & Beef Sauté - a warm & hearty stew-esque meal without the long cooking time.

Kanga & Bacon Frittata - a tasty way to enjoy the flavours of kangaroo meat, whilst adding healthy fats back into the meal (roo meat is very lean; what with all the bouncing it all jiggles off).

Kangaroo Balls - another tasty way to enjoy the flavours of kangaroo meat, combining it with egg, herbs, and almond flour for added texture.

Kale Chips - if you find yourself missing potato crisps, or are at a loss as to how to fill that void at an upcoming party, try the unconventional yet truly delicious kale version! Minimal kale taste, and all the crunch of old-skool tayta chips.

Lamb, Basil & Garlic Roll-Ups - tender, tasty lamb backstrap, filled with fresh, intense basil and tangy garlic. A fabulous mini-roast for warmer weather thanks to the shorter cooking time, and always appreciated in the chill of winter!

Lard - it's much tastier if you get free-range pig fat and render it yourself.

Lots'a Layers Lasagne - no pasta involved! A playful mix of veggies and meat, in a stacks-on arrangement, somewhat resembling the appearance a decidedly non-primal favourite, although the taste is quite different!

Meatza! A pizza with a base that's like a hamburger patty, but so much more awesome than that sounds...

Oopsie Pizza - the pizza base of cream cheese and eggs! An adaptation of the recipe on The Wilderness Childe by the lovely Diana Renata.

Pizza Burgers
- all the taste of pizza as part of a beef burger patty. Genius! (Recipe & image also include Feta & Capsicum Mini Frittata.)

Pizza Cake - it's not a pizza, it's not a frittata, but it's a piece of cake to make!

Pumpkin Fries - a twist on the typical roast pumpkin recipe, resulting in crispness on the outside, and soft pumpkin goodness on the inside. Also works with sweet potato.

Pumpkin Soup - a delicious mix of spices makes this warm favourite something very special indeed!

Savory Zucchini Slice - I always loved the flexibility of Mum's zucchini slice. The neutral-yet-distinctive flavour, that could be dressed up with honey or maple syrup for dessert, or with some garlic butter as a savory dinner accompaniment. So I've made a primal variation - a new favourite!

Quiche - upping the ante from the oh-so-simple frittata, this dish involves an almond flour crust, and can be adapted to include any additional fillings that you fancy. A visually impressive dish that's great to add to your repertoire.

Spinach & Cashew Pesto - a delicious dose of creamy greens, perfect for dipping, serving atop fish and chicken, or straight from the spoon!

Sunflower Sesame Crackers - the perfect crunchy accompaniment for primal dips and catering for cracker-needy gusts when serving antipasto and cheese at parties. I'm finally rid of the last remaining non-primal item I used to have to buy for dinner parties!!

Tyrolienne Beef & Kidney Stew - if you've ever been keen to try kidney, the stewing element of this recipe allows the organs to absorb a delicious flavour without toughening. An acquired taste/texture, but incredibly nutritious.

Veggie Conucopia - an array of ways to prepare veggies that may be a little different to your standard dishes. (Recipe & image also include Caveman Chicken, a delicious chicken preparation and tangy/nutty sauce that will blow your mind!)

Warm Beet Medley Salad - a wonderfully tangy and colourfully presented mix of cooked vegetables, with a surprising topping. The perfect accompaniment to Baked Trout (part of same post).

White Fish Fingers - I'm not a fan of white fish, or any fish that tastes 'fishy', if you know what I mean. Solution? Herbs, spices, and coconut oil!

Buon appetito!