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...


Cheryl Yank said...

Hi Jess. I read the two excerpts you mentioned, today, and sent them on to a friend who has a teenage daughter who is vegan. We can only open the doors. Hopefully she can get some benefit from the info. Currently, she, like many of her peers, is suffering from anorexia/bulimia also. So much trauma around food these days!
Cheryl Y.

Cheryl Y said...

PS Enjoy your holiday in Tassie

Sandy said...

Yeah, yesterday I treated myself to coffee with some half and half, and it took almost no time for my tummy to start all kinds of gurgling and rumbling. No more dairy for a while -- if ever!

Anonymous said...

Breakfast offering at hospital diabetic instruction seminar: orange juice, cereal, milk, bread, jam, high-octane coffee and (luckily) cheddar cheese. After reading Dr. Richard Bernstein's Diabetic Doctor's Solution (curing diabetes with low carb), I ate the cheese.

Ian Wendt said...

the trick to getting meat cooked rare and cooked rare properly is really high heat and the meat needs to be room before it goes on the grill. I'll cook the meat for no more than about 2 minutes to a side. This works with grass-feds, including such exotics as yak meat! Which is delicious by the way!

Ian Wendt said...

Ehr... I mean, the meat has to be room temperature...

mrs boo rad said...

Everything looks DELIGHTFUL. I have some salmon here and I'm ready to bundle it up in some eggs!

Anonymous said...

Hello Jess,

Great blog. I'm new to primal eating and haven't quite made the leap to excluding all carbs from my diet. I do want to lose weight though. I am confused about one thing. I see banded around a consumption of around 20 grams of carbs to help with weight loss. 20 grams seems rather small and in no way represent the pictures people post of their meals. I weighed a kiwi fruit and it came in at just over 100 grams. What is going on here? Also I look at images of your food (yum yum) and wonder how in the world you can eat that much. There is no way I could eat that quantity in one sitting without feeling extremely uncomfortable. I am baffled.

Jezwyn said...

Thanks for the comments all - I'm back from my trip, and will be blogging soon!

Sandy - I did another dairy test whilst I was over in Tasmania (a land famous for its cheese) and whilst the cheese was way too salty for enjoyment, my gut had no problem with it. Hm. But I think I'll keep dairy out of the picture again in case it's the reason why I'm having a bit of an acne flare-up.

Anon - sheesh! Good move! Stuff like that makes me hope all the harder for true health info to hit mainstream media.

Hi Ian - I know how to cook the perfect rare steak, but apparently a famous, high-end steak house doesn't!

Hi Anon! 20g carbs refers to the weight of the macronutritent, not the weight of the food. Look at sites like or and check out the macronutrient break-downs. A 100g kiwi fruit has approx 15g carb. 20g carbs is the amount Dr. Atkins recommended to kick-start ketosis (fat-burning), and from there you can raise your carb intake if it doesn't stall your fat loss. Mark Sisson recommends consuming fewer than 50g carbs per day for ketogenic fat loss, 100g for steadier loss (which wouldn't work for my metabolism and insulin resistance), and 150g for maintenance. You need to play around and figure out what works for you.

As for meal size, it's hard for you to tell exactly how much food is on my plate. You don't necessarily recognise the size of my plate (for instance, when I'm only eating meat, I often use salad/entree plates, not full dinner plates), and you can't easily see the thickness of the meat from a single-angled photo. You also need to think about how many times a day I eat, my size and activity level, and whether the serving is the whole amount of dinner I've prepared, or just my portion. It's rare that I consume more than 250g or so of meat in one sitting, and that's not much more than the average steak served in a restaurant, often accompanied with roast veggies and chips! Replacing all those veggies with a tiny bit more meat (if any) is less volume for more satiety.

All the best on your Primal journey, and make sure to visit Mark's site since he makes the info really simple for newcomers. You don't have to eschew all carbs (I just feel better on all-meat), just the inflammatory and damaging ones (wheat & other grains, refined sugars, etc).

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jess for your explanation. Phew you really cleared a few things up for me. And you're right without something to measure the scale, photos of food can be misleading. I'm really glad you pointed this out because I was beginning to wonder how in the world am I so fat yet eat so little compared to everyone else LOL!

Allison said...

Hey Jez,
I really enjoy your blog. Question for you; I have been trying Primal eating for about one month and have gained some weight. Is this normal? I never ate this much fat in my life and was curious is you had any experience with transitioning into this lifestyle. Does the body have to adapt? No grains, some dairy, all high fat. My carbs were sneaking up because of nuts and veg so Im watching that now. My calories are high because everything is so nutrient dense! But delicious. Anyway I do exercise. I don't want to go too far in the wrong direction. Any input? Ive yo-yo'd my weight for years.

Jezwyn said...

No worries Anon (sorry your comment took so long to appear - Blogger seems to randomly mistrust certain comments but rarely logs me out, yet I only go to the moderation page when it has just forced me to log in, so yeah...)! My obese friend actually eats very, very little, lending more weight to the theory that obese people are indeed undernourished and starving, but since they have high circulating insulin thanks to their following of the SAD, they struggle to tap into their fat stores enough, and therefore eat enough to cover their daily needs and thus don't lose weight. But I rarely see them sitting down to any more food than the average person, so yeah! Remember that a few studies now have picked up on the importance of actually over-eating a bit on a high-fat diet to assure your body that it WILL be fed and then can therefore afford to tap into fat stores since they won't be directly needed for survival. This is why I ensure I have a higher-calorie day every few days.

Hi Allison,

The only reason I would guess at is that you're consuming too many calories. At my height and weight, my BMR is around 1900kcal per day, with my average activity spending an additional 400-600kcal on top of that. So if I'm eating above that level, I know I won't lose weight, and may instead gain. Whilst calories aren't the be-all and end-all, if you can't rely on satiety to guide your consumption, then perhaps a good guideline would be to work out how many calories you need in an average day, and meet that whilst ensuring you're getting at least 50% of your calories from fat, and getting ample protein. Then try fasting a couple of times a week without compensating with larger meals, thus constructing a caloric deficit without encouraging your body to lower activity levels as compensation. I aim for my meals to be around the 500-600kcal mark each, which is certainly enough to satisfy me, and then I skip lunch a few times a week, with a bigger fast (breakfast and lunch, and perhaps dinner) one day. I find if I lower my calories two days in a row, I feel fatigued on the third day, suggesting metabolic impact. If you've been a yoyo dieter you might have some metabolic healing to do, but that's it in terms of an adjustment period. Experiment with your options and find what works for you. Mark Sisson has some generic guidelines that might point out any little mistakes you've been making, though I reckon you're savvy enough to be hitting the other targets - Feel free to stay in touch and bounce your ideas and progress off me :)