Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sizzlin' & Chillin'

The first teaching term of the year is finally over! The holidays are here! I will be spending the bulk of the next two weeks away from home, so my next post may be epic, exploring Tasmania and all it's delicious seafood and sustainable meat production. I'm looking forward to learning more about the salmon farms and whether it's ok to consume salmon from Tassie farms (i.e. what the omega 3:6 ratio is) and exactly how different their process is in comparison to US farms. From what I see online, the picture is very bright and indicates a natural diet close to that of wild salmon, but then I see images detailing the 'feeding machine' and the worry sets in again... Fingers crossed...

This week has been a true test of endurance, yet I stuck to my guns and only ate meat & eggs with butter. Hurrah! Then, last night, I tested myself with some cream, since I could feel that last weekend's pancake incident had been nullified, but the cream consumption was rewarded shortly thereafter with a horrible (but thankfully short-lived) tummy upset. Proof that my system doesn't tolerate dairy well anymore. Gone! Except butter, for now...

The week 'o painfulness started with Parent/Teacher Interviews at school on Monday. Normal classes ran until noon, then interviews started at 1pm and ran until 9pm. Ow. The school provides the staff with dinner. Here's the email detailing the exciting menu they'd organised:

"xxxxxxx is organising tea from 5pm to 6pm in the social staff room. There are two courses:

vegetarian lasagne, gnocci, and pasta with chicken and mushrooms; all served with salad, garlic bread and fresh bread. This will will be followed by fruit and cheese platters and even some special treats.

Juice and soft drink will also be available."

I had expected as much (or as little), so I had cooked up a couple of extra sausages to keep me going. However, the sheer ignorance of the catering team pushed me over the edge this time, and I fired back an email complaining that the staff deserved better than junk food, especially when there was no other option and we weren't given advance notice that all that would be served was junk food. I noted that we have staff members recovering from cancer, we have at least one diabetic on staff, and that gluten is a problem for many people, even if they don't know it yet.

The response:

"We can get gluten-free pasta if you'd like."


My response:

"I don't eat junk food. I only eat real food."

"What's that?"

"Meat. Eggs. Seafood." (and I also listed "Vegetables. Nuts. Low-sugar Fruit." even though I wouldn't eat it right now)

"xxxxxx will pick up a chicken for you."

So I got my portion of chicken (discovering later that the rest was put in the fridge, where I found it on Friday, wasted - why wasn't it served out to others??), and everyone else had to fight to scoop up enough high-starch, sugary garbage to try and fuel their hard, stressful work for another three hours. I had to take my chicken to my desk and eat it privately, since everyone was looking at it and wondering why I was the only one to get decent food. Hopefully my fuss will mean that next time a meal is catered for the staff, there will be some actual edible foods on the menu!


After working an intense six extra hours after school on Monday, the staff was generously allowed to come in after recess on Tuesday. We were given one period, 70 minutes, to recover from such a big night. Needless to say, everyone walked around like zombies for most of the day. I did my best to fuel myself through the day, chomping on buttery lamb chops for breakfast.

After a long day of school & play rehearsals, I whipped up one of my favourite meals for dinner - beef & basil burgers (held together with a little egg) topped with fried eggs, served with smoked salmon. Mmmmmm...

Raw on the grill:

Cooked to perfection:

The final masterpiece:

Best Brinner ever!


Breakfast: lamb chops!

A fire-cracker of a day - very busy, bouncing from normal classes to running a tutorial for my Monash students after school, and then meeting the beau at Charcoal Grill On The Hill for a quick dinner. I went for the grass-fed porterhouse, but as always, too much char, too much grill, not enough rare and tasty goodness. Also, not enough light to make a good iPhone photo:

Afterwards, I went bounding into the city on public transport to catch my first Melbourne International Comedy Festival show for the year - Keep Your Skirt On. Two of my friends were performing in the show, and the line-up was bound to introduce me to more female comics whom I may not have run into before. Mission accomplished, and I had a great time even though I was alone (the beau had work). However, the show ran long, and I found myself rushing to catch the very last train of the evening, leaving just past midnight. On a school night?! Eek. I wasn't home til 1am, so clock up another night of limited sleep. I took a super-dose of D3 to help me over the hump, but I still felt the lack of snooze the next day...


Driven by fatigue, I stuffed myself full of lamb sausages from Jonathan's to help get the day off on fair footing.

Busy, busy, busy, smoked salmon for lunch, erk too much sodium, busy busy, busy...

And into the city for the opening night performances in the Comedy Festival of Tessa Waters (soooo talented!) & Frank Woodley (always entertaining, though the show needs a bit of work). Since we were running late, we had to grad a quick dinner between the shows, at... Nando's. I went for the 1/2 chicken, after asking and asking whether there was sugar in the lemon & herb coating... I'm still not convinced of the season's purity... And there was very little meat on the chicken, so I was left hungry. Bah.

At least I caught up on a bit of sleep, even if my nutrition was lacking and my sodium levels were sky-high. I knew what the scales would tell me in the morning...


Thank Goodness! Even though the day was packed full, of course, my mood was bright despite seeing a 1kg jump up on the scales thanks to water retention, and all the fun that water-holding brings to the day as the sodium levels drop... Some close calls, but I survived!

Started my final day off right, with lamb chops in butter

At school, I finished off the last of my tuna stash, mostly to remind myself to re-stock at the beginning of next term. Tinned tuna is such a pointless little nothing by itself. I should make some coconut mayo to have with it, then maybe it can be classed as a meal.

Then school was over and the holidays had begun! At home I filled up on lamb sausages, plus a mystery cut of beef from Dad's stash that's been in the freezer for a month or two. Very gristly, but tasty enough....

Too much protein, not enough fat, and my body wasn't happy with what I'd given it - it was screaming FEED ME pretty gosh-darn loudly, so I figured it was a good time to test my response to dairy... And you all know how that went down.

Despite the digestive response, my eats got me through a mad evening of performing, rushing to a comedy festival show (Ross Daniels' The Transposed Man - great character work, tenuous narrative thread), and then rushing to another comedy festival show by the beau's company Impro Melbourne - the classic Late Nite Impro! Always a winner, especially when my favourite improvisers and great mates are bringing the house down with their genius. Sometimes I miss performing with them, but I just don't have time anymore. I barely have time to blog!


So after the sizzles of the week that was, we slept in this morning and had our breakfast at noon - the last piece of defrosted meat in the fridge: salmon fillets. Everything else will live in the freezer whilst we're away, but we've bought up a bunch of tasty organic, grass-fed meat to take on holidays with us this weekend, so we're all set!

Let the chillin' begin!

And while I'm away, I encourage you to read an interview with Valija Evalds, Lierre Keith's sister, who is also an ex-vegan. Hopefully you all have read at least the free extract of The Vegetarian Myth, so to get further perspective on Lierre and the problems with veganism is interesting and significant. I suffer through the same issues that Valija does when it comes to watching students try veganism to the detriment of their health, although I don't always keep my mouth shut...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Go Fast!

Somehow, in the middle of another hellishly hectic working week, I managed to successfully fast for THIRTY-SIX HOURS without a hitch or a hint of hunger! Huzzah! I will definitely be working more fasts into my week, since I feel so good without having to worry about food and I have proved it to myself now that my body is more than capable of burning my stored body fat efficiently enough to keep my energy levels at an acceptable level. The only level at which I noticed the lack of food was on the emotional level - the staff is heavily over-worked this term, and I'm on the metaphorical front-lines since I have a number of additional commitments, so even though I haven't really been over-eating (thanks to going meat-only), I have been taking pleasure in food on the emotional level. This aspect has bitten me in the bum a bit this weekend, since meat wasn't terribly accessible, but I'll get to that later...

I'm heading into the last week of term, starting with Parent-Teacher Interviews tomorrow, lots of rehearsals, and busy evenings, but then I have two weeks off and we'll be away from home a lot, so the ability to comfortably fast will be of great benefit when accessing good meat is difficult. And having a chance to relax is desperately required!


FAST! Begun after dinner on Tuesday, broken at breakfast on Thursday.


Bacon & scrambled eggs - breaking the fast with a traditional favourite:

And with a massive afternoon and evening, running from commitment to commitment, I cooked up a few pork-based snags from Jonathan's and took them to work with me for lunch and pre-concert dinner. I trust you all know well enough what Jonathan's gorgeous sausages look like by now... :) And I hope that you all, one day, with also get to enjoy what they taste like!


More snags, plus a trip down memory lane with The Usual - a ham & cheddar omelette (yep, a little bit of cheese - testing out my reaction to goat's cheese!)

After work, tried a different omelette composition for a snack - smoked salmon, and soft goat's cheese - amazing!!

Finally, the beau & I sat down to a plate each of lamb chops and Jonathan's chipollatas

In preparation for a weekend away, I made some 'care treats' for the beau, to help discourage his interest in junk food and sweet treats - I whipped up an experimental concoction of baked goodness using unmeasured amounts of coconut flour (about 1 cup), dessicated coconut (~ 1 cup), unsweetened cocoa (~ 1/2 cup), cacao nibs (~ 1/2 cup), a few eggs, and then a healthy serve of coconut oil and water to make the mix into a semi-liquid. Then I shaped the mix into biscuit-sized blobs, and some into mini-muffin pans, and baked it all for a good half-hour until the mixture was hard on the outside (though it won't cook the same way all the way through - but you don't want raw egg still inside!). After they cooled, I tried them out on the beau, and he roundly approved! No sweetener, no dairy, totally Paleo (though yes, it's Neolithic mimicry, assuming no cultures ground flours pre-wheat agriculture...), and he loved them! In curiousity, I even tried them to see where the enjoyment came from - absolutely delicious! I look forward to more in the future, once the fat levels are back under control.


With four hours of public transport travel in front of me, I didn't want food in my belly (I don't do the moving vehicle lavatory thing), so I fasted until I arrived in my home town and met up with family at one of the local pubs. I ordered the tastiest-sounding dish on the menu - beef eye fillet, wrapped in bacon. How could the kitchen get it so wrong?? Limp bacon that hadn't been pre-crisped, and a sad clump of meat that was visually unappetising, and had a fairly average taste despite being served rare, as requested. Boo! (If only I' d had my phone with me!) Plus, I had to watch as my aunt bought chips and battered fish/chicken nuggets to my little cousins, washed down with Neapolitan ice-cream... Noooo! I know what I'll be getting her next Christmas.

Later, after attending a reunion of my old primary school (which was merged with my old high school seven years ago, and had its original buildings demolished), we bought some Chinese food for Dad's birthday dinner (for him), selecting the least icky items from the menu: five-spice quail as an entree, garlic chicken & veg, black bean beef & veg, and prawn & veg, without any rice. Not too bad! For Mum & I, we picked up some smoked salmon, roast chicken, and some cheeses.

See, my parents are renovating their kitchen, and the only cooking implement they have is an electric frying pan which Dad won't allow to be used in the house. This makes cooking things a nightmare of flies and night-time vision impairment. No-cook meals, or microwaveable leftovers are what they're living on at the moment, and will be for the next month or so! As you can tell, this situation was bound to pose a problem to my chosen diet...


What to eat?

I ate the last few bits of chicken from last night's roast bird.

I wasn't well-prepared for a fast, as I had a headache from the heat, and without a kitchen, my water sources were the bathroom (where the water has always tasted a bit funny) and the laundry (and who wants to drink water that has come from a sink so close to the toilet?))... How lame am I?! So instead, I tried to get my hydration from food - a cheddar omelette.

Thank goodness for the satiety provided by dietary fat! Although the dairy left me with the munchies, I was able to pull it together and fast (without caloric restriction) for the rest of the day, with its long journey back to Melbourne. And now I'm home, with meats defrosting in the fridge, ready to help support me through the 50 hour working week I have ahead of me - and only around 10 of those hours are NOT face-to-face teaching or meeting times!

See you at the other end...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gizmos & Gadgets & Recipe: Baked Almond Snapper

I bought myself a new toy!

It's a GoWear Fit, a gadget attached to an armband that you wear constantly, so that it can use its fancy computer to approximate your caloric output for the day. I'm using it mainly for fun, to find out how many calories (excluding waste and futile cycles and the metabolic advantage of glucogenesis, etc) I'm using per day. I was hoping for an explanation of how I could have lost fat consistently when I first tried the all-meat diet despite consuming an average of 2400kcal per day! Well, it's still a bit of a mystery, since my average result via the GoWear Fit is that I use up around 2100-2200kcal per day. Dr. Michael R. Eades does suggest that the metabolic advantage achieved through high-protein/low-carb diets is only in the vicinity of 100-300kcal per day... So unless my body has to work extra hard to convert protein into glucose when I starve my body of dietary glucose, I'm amazed I was breaking even, let alone causing a deficit. The GWF is correct to about 10% either way, so it's possible the average is still currently skewed, since I've only been wearing it for a week, so I'll keep tracking while my free month of online access lasts, and see how my average turns out...

Meanwhile, I've been trying to hide the gadget under my clothes, so I've been going for longer sleeved-shirts, rather than my usual cap sleeves, but the weather has turned back to hot and humid! Plus, the gizmo beeps when it loses contact with the skin, and somehow it manages to do this on occasion whilst I'm wearing it. Having your arm beep in the middle of teaching is just a leeeetle awkward... The painful part of the process is that the gadget is practically useless without buying a subscription to use the software/website - you can gather the data, but not view it! If it were free, I'd only wear the gadget occasionally, but to get the most out of the trial, I'm compelled to wear the band every day, working my wardrobe around it. Bring on cooler weather!

As much as I don't like thinking about calories whilst I'm eating (checking at the end of the day when I check my macro-nutrient breakdown), since it can interfere with my connection to satiety, knowing approximately how many calories one is burning per day makes it hard not to want to know exactly how many calories is in each meal, to make sure to manage a deficit... And this is even though I know that it's not as simple as calories in = calories out (burned/stored).

At least I won't have to worry about calories tomorrow - I'm going for my first complete day fast! I've eaten a big dinner this evening, and now I won't eat anything tomorrow (a decision primarily driven by my hectic schedule tomorrow - there's no time to eat!), until breakfast the following day! The fast will be just over 34 hours... I'm excited, though I may carry a bit of coconut oil just in case my energy flags to levels that mean I can't get through my responsibilities tomorrow...

Here's most of the food that has been keeping me going for the past few days (I keep forgetting to take photos!):


I skipped breakfast as the beau & I headed off to the Queen Victoria Market for fresh fish. Salmon, oysters, rockling, and tropical snapper - yum! After running a few other errands, we returned home and I put together a little plate of raw salmon and oysters in lemon juice.

Then I got cracking on dinner - two Toulouse sausages from Jonathan's, plus a small serve of the beef curry I made for the beau, plus a taste of sauerkraut - my first taste! Wow, so sour/sweet! Perfect with the beef curry - even better than cauliflower rice!


After a big sleep-in, I whipped up a generous fry-up for the beau & my breakfast: bacon, Jonathan's Bespoke Breakfast Sausages, and an egg/lox scramble

Later, it was time to get fancy with a massive piece of tropical snapper we picked up at the market:

Recipe: Baked Almond Snapper


Huge slab o' tropical snapper (or any kind of snapper, or white fish)
1/4 cup almond flour
A bevy of dried herbs and spices (mine: cumin, parsley, basil, paprika, and sage)
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut oil


1. Place fish fillet, skin side down, in a greased baking dish.

2. Whip egg in a small bowl, and brush/drizzle egg over the top of the fillet.

3. Mix almond meal/flour and herbs & spices in a small bowl, and sprinkle over fillet until completely covered.

4. Drizzle oil carefully over the coated fillet, taking care not to wash away the almond flour.

5. Bake in a moderate oven (160degC) for 30 minutes, until coating is golden and fish flakes apart when cut.

Serve immediately, to rave review!


Decided to skip breakfast and lunch, so this rack of lamb, with its generous layers of fat, certainly hit the spot!


Started my day with Toulouse sausages and fried eggs, cooking extra snags to take to work for lunch. However, I ended up eating them at recess, resulting in a 8 hour fast between brunch and dinner - very nice!

Then for dinner, I had a few bitsy pre-fast meals, starting with an organic beef steakette (tastier than the photo would suggest), plus some scrambled eggs with Camembert for a luxe treat! I also had smoked salmon, as well as a few macadamia nuts to get my fat intake up. Hope that fibre won't cause any issues!

Wish me luck for my big fast - here's hoping the 'worst' that I experience is keto-breath!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Australia Takes The Cake - I'll Take The Meat

(even the poor native critters here look overweight and suffering carb coma...)

The 20 most popular recipes searched for on Google in Australia are (in order):

Banana cake
Banana bread
Pumpkin soup
Chocolate cake
Anzac biscuit
Potato bake
Fried rice
Apple crumble
Lamb shanks
Butter chicken

(Taken from an article posted in The Age on March 9, 2010)

I was galled when I first read this list in the paper, thinking how terrible it was that my fellow Australians were prioritising so many carby desserts and starchy savouries when it came to their attempts at cooking.

But then I realised that this list was actually more likely to be a sign that Australians simply don't know much about cooking desserts and other somewhat-discombobulating food items. For items such as meatloaf and butter chicken, their non-Australian origin means that for many of us, the components of those meals are just as foreign and difficult to deduce without a recipe - especially when packaged versions have more ingredients than your average chemistry set.

Still, inclusions such as the very popular pumpkin soup search (are they finding my recipe?) and potato bake (why is that one perceived as being so complicated??) are quite disturbing, since they - along with the basic baked goods - are a clear indicator that the average Australia has not been taught how to cook at even the most fundamental level.

I'm left feeling very proud that I was given time to experiment in the kitchen as a child, that I studied Home Economics at school, and that I made it a personal mission to learn how to cook a wide variety of foods back in 2006. I now have the courage to experiment with the foods I like and trust, and have not turned to my old cook books for many moons. Occasionally I'll do an open recipe search for quantity suggestions when playing with new foods (i.e. chicken liver), but that's about it. And I'm really passionate about kids learning what constitutes nourishing food, and how to prepare it. Note: I will never switch disciplines and become a Home Ec. teacher - even though it would give me hands-on access as a facilitator of nutrition understanding in the next generation, I could never maintain a positive outlook in the face of 25 frying pans full of burning mushrooms and spitting fat.... Nuh-uh.

Until then, I'll keep my talks with students to the casual side of the curriculum, and continue to play with the preparation of my food and share it with you guys, if that's okay by you :)


Breakfast: bacon and eggs, fried in ghee. Still playing around with ghee, but everything seems to stick when I use it! Might go back to coconut oil, since I have such a plentiful supply at the moment.

Lunch: Kanga & Bacon frittata leftovers at work - received lots of comments re: the delicious smell!

Dinner: Copped out and bought a roast chicken after a long rehearsal and walk home. Delicious!


Breakfast: bacon and eggs, plus a wild, hurried picking of the leftover chook carcass - next time I'll be doing it before I put on my make-up in the morning... Smeary...

Forgot to pack a lunch, and had a Monash University tutorial to lead after normal classes, followed by an audition with a prestigious Melbourne choir, so no time to eat until afterwards - at 10:30pm! I thought long and hard about whether I should just fast til breakfast, but decided against it. Next week I'm going for it! (Yep, the audition was a success :)

Late dinner: lamb forequarter chops fried in butter and dried basil, plus a bit of leftover beef snag & cheddar frittata that the beau had left for dead in the fridge. Yum!


Breakfast: pork chops and eggs. I've been eating more eggs than I'd like to just to get my fat intake up. Still too much protein, not enough fat, most days...

Another long day, another skipped lunch, another choir, another late dinner!

Late dinner: picked up another chook, and ate the tasty bits. It wasn't from the usual place, and wasn't very enjoyable, given that my brain was screaming 'Industrial vegetable oils! Eeeeek!'


Breakfast: eggs and bacon, again.

Lunch: leftover chicken - the breasts that the beau usually prizes (he'd already eaten last night). I still don't get the appeal - so dry and lacking in taste... Bleh.

Dinner - entree: I fried up some eggs and smoked salmon for a gourmet snack whilst I waited for the beau to arrive home.

Dinner - main: Then we both sat down to a plate of lamb shank and pork ribs! I had the shank out to slow-cook, but hadn't found the time and was getting nervous re: spoilage, so into the oven it went! Tasty, though a bit dry despite being coated in coconut oil. Ah, high temperature cooking, norty norty....

I'll leave you with the following link to take you into the weekend - a very interesting collection of information! The Metabolism Society - your resource for truth in nutritional science. Let's hope it gets the respect and attention it deserves.

Bon weekend!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Violent Storms & Wild Meats

Here's what my part of the world looked like on Saturday:

My suburb wasn't too affected, given that we're up on a hill, but there was still a river of hail and rain plummeting down our angled driveway, past my position at the computer room window! I was lucky enough not to be caught outside for long, though when the winds first kicked up I ran out to get the guinea pigs in from their grazing area, and was hit in the head by one of the first golfball-sized hail stones. My head still hurts to the touch, although the skin wasn't broken. I just try not to think about what might have happened had the hailstone hit my head just a few centimetres south of where it did - a direct blow to the temple doesn't often end well...

And the most surprising part? Just two hours prior to the wildest storm I've experienced in my lifetime, I was lying out in the backyard, bathing in the gorgeous, if diffused, sunlight!

So even though I spent the weekend feeling less than wonderful, my food was inspiring and delicious and varied!


Breakfast - Tuscan sausages from Jonathan's, fried in ghee.

Lunch: two organic lamb forequarter chops with two slices of smoke, free-range bacon, plus a blob of butter for extra fat.

Dinner: chicken drumsticks, roasted in the slow-cooker in a TONNE of coconut oil and cumin! Yum! Rotten photo, but delicious food!


Breakfast/Lunch: two hefty pork fore-quarter chops, with lots of tasty fat!

Dinner: Kangaroo & Bacon Frittata


Breakfast/Lunch: More kanga & bacon frittata.

Early Dinner (3:30pm, ready to fast overnight): Lamb fore-quarter chops, fried in ghee and dried basil & parsley, served with a bit of extra butter which was not eaten - the meat was tasty enough alone.

With only a few days of cutting out all carbs (except an egg or so per day, on average), I'm already feeling great, satisfied by my food, my digestion's happy, and my skin is glowing! It's wonderful when your body so clearly confirms the choices you make as being the best one for you!

Meanwhile, in case you subscribe by RSS or email and haven't seen them yet, I've turned my Recipe Index & Reference Guide into Blogger 'pages', a new gadget that Blogger has created and I'm hoping will be improved and be given all sorts of exciting formatting options. I really want to have buttons or the like linking to my key pages, etc, rather than just a text link, so we'll see how that goes... For now, you can see the links at the top of my right navigation bar, with a link back to my general blog posts. You can still comment on these pages if you want to give feedback or ask questions - I'd especially like to know what you think of the info currently in the reference guide, and if you know of any valuable and relevant material I should link to. Just pop your ideas in a comment!

Happy Labour Day long weekend, Aussies!

Recipe: Kanga & Bacon Frittata

Who says that eating meat & eggs has to be boring?

For those who have no problem with vegetables, an endive and romaine salad with plenty of tomato would suit this frittata perfectly.


400g kangaroo mince (extra lean beef would work as well, or use standard ground beef and use less additional fat)

100g middle bacon strips, chopped roughly

50g fat - I used coconut oil since I have lots on hand, but lard or bacon fat would be perfect!

4 pastured eggs

Optional - 1/2 onion, chopped fresh herbs, chili powder & other spices.


Preheat oven to a moderate temperature.

Heat fat in large oven-safe frying pan. When oil is hot, add minced meat and chopped bacon, and sauté until cooked through. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whip eggs until combined.

Pour eggs into frying pan, and stir gently so that all meat is covered in egg mixture.

Place frying pan in oven, and bake until frittata is thoroughly set (approx. 20 - 30 minutes).

I didn't have a clean oven-safe pan, so I used a pan with a wooden handle, then transferred the meat into a baking dish lined with baking paper, before adding the egg and baking:

Serve while hot, or chill overnight and reheat/serve at room temperature the next day - this allows the flavours to develop.

Making frittata really is the quick and easy way to make a large amount of cooked food that's effortlessly suitable for leftovers the next day. As well as making this for myself, I made my roo-phobic beau a frittata of beef sausage, bacon, and cheddar cheese: