Monday, April 26, 2010

Recipe: Coconut Chicken Curry

A nice and easy curry - rich, tasty, and so satisfying!


500g chicken thigh fillets (breasts & legs work well too)
1 can coconut cream
2T coconut oil (or more)
2T curry powder
1 red or brown onion
A few garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli
Any fresh herbs you enjoy

I serve my curry on a bed of sautéed cabbage, zucchini & green pepper.


Heat oil in a large frying pan. Chop the chicken if you like, and then add to pan. Brown gently, then remove meat from pan and sit aside.

Add onion, garlic and chilli to pan, and sauté until onion is translucent.

Add coconut cream and curry powder to pan, and stir until all ingredients are combined.

Place chicken back into frying pan, along with any herbs you like, and stir til meat is coated in curry liquid.

Reduce heat and cover pan, allowing the curry to simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve on veggies to help soak up curry - cauliflower rice is always a favourite, but I wanted to mix it up. My chosen greens were delicious!

Paradigm Shift - Primal Takeaway!

This ANZAC Day long weekend, I added vegetables back into my diet so that I could experiment in the kitchen, with an eye to make colourful, primal variations on the usual 'home delivery' menu!

Now, since I'm limited to the lowest carb, non-starchy veggies (i.e. leafy greens), some of the links are tenuous, but still delicious! However, I'll start with the weakest links, to get them out of the way :)

Fish & Chips

Steak & Fries

Noodle Box! Seafood & Veggies

Burger & Fries - I made the patty with heaps of seasoning (seasoned salt, cumin, and lots of herbs) and the beau claimed that I should label it a 'taco burger'!

Thai Chicken Curry & Noodles - check out the recipe

And then, on the domestic front, there's the ol' classic - Veg & Two Meat!

And then for movie night - popcorn! (Yes, possibly the most tenuous of all of them, but fried and drained scallops with crispy bacon bits is my new go-to savoury mini-meal!)

Yes, this post is mildly facetious :) But it was good to keep my cooking skills up to scratch - they were gathering dust, what with the extent of my carnivorous cooking being 1. Turn on grill. 2. Slap meat on grill. 3. Remove meat from grill. 4. Eat meat. 5. Repeat 12 hours later. I love that the relative monotony of the process bares no resemblance to the exciting variety of the meals it produces!

Also in the variety paradigm, I had some fun keeping my activity levels up despite a stay-at-home weekend:

On Saturday, the beau & I went for a walk around the block (it's a big block) after dinner, with the guinea pigs snuggled in the front of our jackets! It had been raining, so they hadn't had any fresh air that day, and they loved the smells of nature at night. I adore how rich the air is after dusk - the Australian native flora give off the most intense aromas. I miss living close to the actual bush wilderness, where the eucalypts drench the air in their heady vapor.

On Sunday, I felt like getting a bit retro, so I dusted off one of my old all-in-one workout DVDs and completed the lengthening warm-up, hand-weight components of the cross-fit section, and a bit of core-strengthening Pilates. My obliques didn't know what hit them!

And today, the sun tried desperately to poke its beams through the patchy cloud cover, so I did my bit to lap up whatever made it through by lying out in the midday sun for almost an hour, until I couldn't take the chill of the air any longer. I'm already longing for summer - luckily, I'll be in Canada in June/July for a fortnight and will get 12 days of bonus summer sun! You can bet I'll be making the most of it - let's just hope that my fat loss continues and that I can have most of my DepTran-driven chub off before it's time to don a swimsuit!

And now into the insanity that is countdown-to-production-week - my latest show goes up in three weeks, so I'll be losing my week nights and weekends for the next month! I'll try to update this every Sunday at least, since it'll be my day semi-off, and in the meantime I'll be fasting regularly, aided by my lack of free time! I haven't been cutting calories at all lately, though I have been tracking, and yet I'm currently at my lowest weight this year. Yay! No digestive issues switching back and forth between carnivorism and the wider primal buffet - back to meat tomorrow! There are three salmon fillets resting in the fridge alongside a bunch of salmon roe, and I'm already drooling despite being stuffed with rich chicken curry! Aw yeah...

And I can see that the sharing of articles is being appreciated - I hope my new followers find value and efficiency by following my shares! It may be my most frequent form of contact for the next few weeks! Wish me luck...

Friday, April 23, 2010

As Time Goes By...

The week is over, the long weekend is here, hurrah! What a week. However hurried it was and harried I was, I somehow still managed to get in the kitchen for a bit of stress relief (which is the act of cooking, not eating, so huzzah!) every night. And there's plenty more to come, since my first delivery from Fresh Fish Online came today! Salmon, flake, blue-eye, scallops, mussels, and octopus! My freezer is filled to bursting, and there are goodies already waiting in the fridge for us to enjoy over our three day break. So far, I've tried the mussels, since they should always be consumed within 24 hours of purchase, and if the rest of the delivery lives up to the same quality, I'll be in heaven! So it'll be seafood at least once per day for the next couple of weeks, yay!

Meanwhile, I figured out a way to recommend key readings from the blogs I read (an idea that was then reinforced by a commenter on my last post, thanks!) - Google Reader allows you to 'share' any posts that you like, and individuals with Google accounts can then follow your shared items list. Now that Google own Blogger, the two have joined forces and I have added the new Shared Items widget in the sidebar on the right, and labeled it Girl Gone Sharin'. So if you don't like to follow lots of blogs but would like to keep up with key discoveries and arguments, then check out that list - I think you can even subscribe to it...

Okay, time for the good stuff - here's my working week in review, meal by meal (separated through time by quite a bit of fasting - hello show season!):

Grilled salmon topped with butter, with a bit of free-range ham.

A hot-smoked salmon fillet, served cold.

Green eggs & lamb!

Pork roast, topped with seasoned salt, pre-cooking.

Same roast, post-cooking. The spices in the salt spread through the skin, into the fat, and across the meat itself. Oh wow. Naturally, I ate all the crackling and a sliver of meat, whereas the beau smashed the majority of the lean. Insert Jack Sprat references here.

A Creole-spiced, hot-smoked salmon fillet, served cold. Delicious!

Smoked salmon and buttery lamb.

Grilled rockling, topped with anchovies and butter.

Roasted chicken drumsticks, with seasoned salt coating.

Mussels! Such hard work preparing mussels - all the scrubbing and de-bearding before you can even get them in the pot and hope they open! I wonder if, after all that, there's any positive calorie balance left... Worth it though!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Recipe: Lamb, Basil & Garlic Roll-Up

When I first set out to teach myself to cook, one of the first things I did was familiarise myself with the various cuts of meat readily available at the local butcher. Whilst that variety has diminished somewhat since switching to organic, grass-fed meats, I still have access to one of my favourites - lamb backstrap. And yet, since going primal, I haven't made one of my absolute gems and I really don't know why, since it is primal, or paleo if you take out the small amount of dairy (after cooking, since it helps the meat take up the herb flavours). So I present to you:

Lamb, Basil & Garlic Roll-Up


Per person:

1 lamb backstrap (approx 175g raw)
3 cherry bocconcini or 1 normal bocconcini (or sliced mozzarella)
1t finely chopped or minced basil
1t finely chopped or minced garlic

You will also need a kitchen tie for each backstrap - I have some nifty silicon ones that are perfect.


Lie the backstraps out flat on a flat, clean surface.

Slice the bocconcini finely.

Spread the basil and garlic thinly across the top of the backstrap, then create a layer of bocconcini slices atop the seasoning.

Carefully roll up the backstrap, and secure with a kitchen tie. This is tricky if your backstrap is narrow - roll tightly, keeping the bocconcini centred as you go so that it doesn't end up squeezed out of the roll-up.

Place the roll-ups on an ungreased baking tray, join-side down.

Roast on low (120degC) for 45 minutes. You can get away with cooking this a bit faster, but the slower and lower you roast it, the more tender the backstrap will be and the better the flavours will develop.

Remove kitchen tie, and served rolled-up. If any bocconcini slithered away during cooking, scoop it up and serve as an amazing gravy!

If you're going dairy-free paleo and you're just cooking for yourself or other lacto-phobes, scrap the cheese and cook slower, lower, and perhaps even covered.

I'm definitely putting this one back into regular rotation!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Once Again, Thriving On Meat & Eggs

Before I share my week with you, I want to point out that this blog has slowly veered away from inclusions of theoretical interest and link love to other blogs. I still read my 40+ blogs and sites in the health, wellness and paleo-spheres, but I'm no longer compelled to point out the goodies to my readers. Why? It's two-fold: one, I hope you are all following those blogs yourselves; and two, I don't have time. I often find myself 'starring' items in Google Reader, but never getting back to find ways of linking to the articles here. Since I've started using my iPod Touch for my regular Internet access, and doing all my other reading during down-time at work (the two minutes I can grab as my 'lunch break' if I'm lucky), I can't even easily link to the pages via Twitter. However, I will be putting more effort into doing so, so if you really like being pointed toward good reads, watch my Twitter feed. I'll do my best! I might also pick out really good quotes from the things I read and create mini-posts on the blog, unless anyone objects to that kind of thing....

I would love to have the time to do active research into various areas of health and report back, like Melissa McEwan does re: Paleo sustainability and gender-specific anthropology (and so much more), but the reality is that I have a full-time (and then some) job that keeps me very busy during the school year. The temptation to become just a University student again is very tempting since then it's all about me me me again, and my time is all my own. But no - at least 50% of my waking day belongs to my students. I do like it that way, but it means my focus at other times needs to be on my food and my activity, with a little bit of time once or twice a week to report back to you guys. The blog has really come full circle for me - that I've taken my journey or experimenting and learning, and now I'm keen to keep showing you how I continue to stay clean and thriving on the diet and lifestyle my particular physiology prefers. And it's really that individual journey that I'm endorsing when I say "if I can do it, so can you" - I'm not pushing my choices on anyone, I've made the information that has informed my decisions available to all, and I've shared the trials and successes I've been through on my path. Perhaps I should make a simple chart in future, alongside my Science page, to detail the choices I'd recommend people try, since my resulting dietary needs are not necessarily true for everyone.

My needs:

I need to stick to a meat-only diet (inclusive of all animals - and fish and sea creatures are animals - and eggs). This diet makes me feel best in all aspects of my life, and when I'm aiming to burn stored bodyfat it also keeps me satiated for long periods of time even if I'm eating to caloric deficit, big or small.

If I allow myself to wander into dairy consumption, I tend to become food-obsessed, which may be a hormonal hyperphagia situation, or an insulin issue, or perhaps dairy now blunts my leptin response. I won't know the cause without fiddling with glucose monitors and blood screening, or perhaps therapy for food addiction (and I'm not ruling out the idea that I'm now somewhat damaged psychologically after my year-long exposure to the crazed world of nutrition science and watching my own body's response - I think I'm now on par with the average teenage girl, since I missed that the first time around), but in the meantime, I know how to avoid the issue - avoid dairy. I've had some unpleasant physiological responses to dairy before, no matter from which animal, so I can believe that I'm better off without it. It was the only food standing between me and the Paleo ideal, so I know I'm backed by a strong and widely-shared ideology.

If I allow myself to wander into vegetation consumption beyond small amounts of herbs and spices, I suffer from bloat and the other usual plant-food effects - i.e. flatulation! The knowledge that I will have a nice flat stomach and will never accidentally toot when demonstrating physical theatre to my students is something money can't buy! I never have any stomach or intestinal pain now - something I used to live with - now that I don't have any plant fibre tearing through my system. My system runs smoothly, so fibre is clearly not necessary for me. I don't eat processed meats, and I don't believe in the theory that red meat, in the absence of processed meats, has any association with colon cancer. In the wider theoretical sense, I don't really believe most plants do humans major damage in consumption, though I do know about anti-nutrients and other plant defenses, but I also don't believe that we need to consume plants to thrive. Anti-oxidants are only needed if you're doing the damage that they help to reverse. I know this statement sadly means that I can no longer justify consuming red wine or dark chocolate as being healthful; what a shame!

I've made it this far without getting any real exercise beyond my daily walking to and from work (which is a necessity since I don't drive), but I am interested now in mixing it up, building more muscle in order to burn more fuel, and seeing whether a bit more activity will help with the lingering hormonal imbalance that has me hovering (still!) 8kg above the weight I reached last year pre-Thailand. It does bother me, looking at my bikini photos, that I wasn't even that close to goal before things took an upswing. I had been relying on diet-based caloric deficits back then, so I wonder if part of the DepTran issue was also my body's willingness to return to its bodyfat set-point. My body backpedaled all but 2kg of the original weight I lost. And this is just from binge-eating Primal foods uncontrollably for a couple of weeks. Even now, it seems that if I don't ensure I create a caloric deficit from diet & activity, very excess calorie finds its way into storage. My body doesn't heat up after meals anymore, although I do seem to stay fuller longer now. So while my metabolism may be affected, at least I'm not in the high-carb cycle of urgent & stubborn fat-accumulation driven by insulin's job of reducing blood glucose levels - the energy I consume stays available to burn for a long time since my circulating insulin levels are low. This physiological situation puts me in good stance for upping my activity levels, since my muscles will have adequate access to fuel stores and will not be likely to catabolise themselves.

I'm looking at trialling the kind of fitness I enjoy the most - group dance classes and body-weight work like yoga and Pilates - as well as the much-loved CrossFit (though the one gym in Melbourne is kind of far from home, so I could only go on the weekend, until I knew enough to DIY at home), and some basic strength training at home, though my space is limited and exposed to the neighbours. This past week I actually went to a local dance place, Dance Dynamics in Box Hill, and for $5 tried two Hip Hop classes - one beginner class, and one more advanced class. The beginner class really didn't get me sweating at all, but the Hip Hop Xtreme class used bigger muscle groups and kept us moving for longer: more about running longer sequences than assuming people were mostly uncoordinated and needed to learn each step and arm movement individually. For anyone thinking that dance is akin to aerobics and basic cardio, you're wrong. Dancing - depending on style - spends more time stretching each muscle group and incorporating body-weight work (squats, ab crunches, arm suspensions) subtly into attractive and fun dances. It's not much about bouncing around and getting your heart rate up. I did aerobics for a year in 2006, and barely showed any kind of toning. The same amount of dance, and I'd be in six-pack wonderland, with dancer's legs! At the moment, money is holding me back, since Dance Dynamics is a membership system, whereas I'd much prefer a drop-in system since my time is precious and spare time is variable. I'll continue checking out my options, and might 'invest' in a couple of DVDs or some such... FYI, not totally in love with Hip Hop dancing, since bodyrolls aren't all that fun when you watch the rest of your rolls jiggle out of turn. Popping the chest is also a little wild when you're running without a sports bra... Upside of dancing at home - no mirrors. Downside - motivation and lack of laughs. We'll see...

So, on to the week that was:


Slept in, then had some sausages for lunch, followed by my first-ever go at slow-cooking a chicken - yum!


Breakfast of lamb chops - however, since we hadn't been to the organic butcher thanks to being interstate, I had to resort to conventionally-raised meat from the supermarket. The fat tasted terrible, full of chemicals! And it's not just elitism talking - even the beau thought it smelled pretty rank. Shame I bought 20 of them...

After work, gorged on my favourite - raw salmon (sashimi)!

And then formally dined on yet more roasted chicken - been in a real fowl mood lately.


Also known as the day my phone (camera) ran out of batteries and I had no time to charge it.

Breakfasted on leftover chicken and a side of bacon, cooking up a bunch of Jonathan's Tuscan snags for lunch at work. If I know there's food in the fridge and I have a free period, it drives me mad. So the snags were all eaten at recess, leaving me to fast for the rest of the day. Felt great! The phone was charged by dinner time - but I'll leave you to imagine the entire lack of food eaten for dinner.


Post-fast feast day! Started off like a champion - a bacon & egg smash, fried in coconut oil.

Then, after work, indulged in raw salmon, drizzled in a little lemon juice.

Dined on an incredibly tasty beef fillet from Dad's latest delivery up to me here in the big smoke (kept in the freezer for ages in the meantime - good steak doesn't lose its flavour no matter how long it's kept on ice!) Yum!


Knowing I had rehearsal after the normal teaching day, and then I'd be rushing into the city for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I planned ahead and made 500g worth of beef burger at breakfast, packing them into lunch containers to eat during and after work. I ate one at breakfast with a side of bacon.

I wasn't full, so I ate another, and another... Yeah. So then I fasted for the rest of the day. Felt great, again! Spontaneous 24hr fast FTW!


Time, once again, to feast! I cooked up a big batch of chicken drumsticks in the morning, and managed to successfully pack up half the batch to take to work for lunch. I also decided to bite the social-outcast bullet and take a raw salmon fillet to work, along with my sharp knife (probably against school policy for teachers to carry knives at school, but what the hey), to test the reactions of my colleagues.

I ate three drumsticks and one salmon fillet for breakfast, and the same for lunch, so let's make do with just one photo, shall we?

For dinner, I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted, so I whipped up some kangaroo steak, bacon, egg & bacon smash, and raw salmon. It was awesome!


Today, after a lovely, long sleep-in, I feasted on freshly-bought organic lamb chops, free-range ham, and bacon. I snacked on the bacon whilst my late lunch (or extremely late breakfast) was on the grill, but managed to get a snap of the remaining lunch as it cooled a little on my chopping board. My eyes were too big for my stomach though, and one chop was put in the fridge for later.

However, I didn't have time to eat it in between writing most of this blog post and heading out the door to start my massive night of FIVE Comedy Festival shows! So I've clocked up another fast this week, feeling great, and am looking forward to feasting tomorrow! Free-range pork roast, hot smoked salmon fillet with creole seasoning (served cold), a leftover lamb chop, some ham... Ooooh, the possibilities!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tassie Eats

I'm back from my jaunt 'overseas' to Tasmania, and am excessively pressed for time as I try to organise myself and mark papers ready for school to resume on Monday. So here is a brief overview of the tasty goodies served up to me as I sped through Tassie on a whirlwind tour.

But firstly, here are a couple of shots of the dinners I served up to my family during our weekend in Blairgowrie before the beau & I hopped aboard the ferry:

Dinner #1 - Organic porterhouse steak, broccolini, and bacon & cabbage sauté.

Dinner #2 - Almond-crusted chicken drumsticks, with roasted & sautéed veggies.

We also took lunch at the famous Portsea Pub; I went for oysters, and then calamari that was sadly sautéed in vegetable oil - my stomach soon rebelled!

And now, to the Tassie fare!

I wanted to ensure I ate seafood at least once per day - my ideal would have been to eat seafood for every meal, but it simply wasn't possible when staying at B&B's that provided a cooked breakfast. But I did okay, particularly in Hobart! Oh my, I could move there, I really could... Until I, you know, died of boredom. But my taste buds would be happy!

Off on the whirlwind tour...

Spirit of Tasmania - buffet lunch on the ferry (the restaurant booked up immediately!)

At the Edgewater Hotel in Devonport (food looked great, but its taste and the hotel's customer service were TERRIBLE!)

Freycinet Marine Farm - ate mussels at the Sales 'Room', crayfish and oysters for dinner, and bought up a bunch of food for the next day.

Swansea - steak & egg breakfast in our motel.

Hobart - a BBQ seafood lunch at my friend's gorgeous home.

'Mures', a wonderful seafood restaurant in Hobart. Amazing octopus, disappointing snapper.

Breakfast at our friend's place

Huonville - the home of Tasmanian salmon farms, and all I can find is trevalla smothered in questionable cheese? Shame.

Dropped in at Mures in Hobart on our drive to our next destination to pick up more fresh seafood, and some smoked salmon for the road.

Bronte Park - breakfast at our accommodation, cooked by me: scallops and prawns, with a side of salmon sashimi and salmon roe!

Strahan - we made use of our private BBQ at our accommodation:

Gummy flake & bacon for dinner.

Porterhouse steak & bacon for breakfast.

Buffet lunch on our cruise ship along the Gordon River and out to Hells Gates and Sarah Island.

Cradle Mountain Lodge - salmon fillet dinner in the Tavern.

Buffet breakfast - I had been promised chops, but instead I had to settle for still more sodium-soaked deli meats. Boo.

Lemonthyme Lodge near Cradle Mountain for dinner.

Entree - oysters.

The heartbreak of the evening - when I ordered the rack of lamb, I asked, as always, whether any sugar or wheat/grains were involved in the preparation of the dish. I was assured that they weren't. Yet, when my lamb arrived, it was topped with what I was told was a 'herb & fetta topping', though the top looked quite dry and crumbly. I tried a spoonful - crumbly cardboard taste. Hello breadcrumbs! So I then asked the waitress again to confirm what the topping was. "Lemon myrtle and fetta". "That's all? There aren't any breadcrumbs?". "Um, I'll check with the chef." Yes, of course there were bloody breadcrumbs. Too bad if I was a full-blown Celiac and had a major reaction to the small amount I consumed! Utterly disgusted.

They 'made it up to me' by letting me select another main, so I went for the beef steak. Delicious, but the taste was sullied by the prior experience.

I decided that it was time to try some of Tassie's famous cheese, so ordered the cheese plate. Yum! The cheddar was a little salty, but the blue was quite nice (and I don't usually like blue), and the brie was pure heaven!

Buffet breakfast in the morning - eggs and bacon. Somehow I managed to subsist on this tiny portion for the rest of the day, including a half-day horse ride!

Spirit Of Tasmania - Dinner on our return ferry journey.

Entree - smoked salmon fillet and veggies

Main - veal fillets and more veggies.

Dessert - one last cheese platter to farewell Tasmania; sadly, these cheese were all much too salty to be enjoyed.

Melbourne - Happy homecoming, celebrated with a breakfast of Jonathan's chorizo sausages and cheesy scrambled eggs.

And since then...

Sautéed prawns in butter:

And tonight, salmon and bacon. I was questioned in a comment about my portion sizes, so I thought I'd include my knife in the shot to give you a clear indicator of my usual plate size when I'm eating at home - it's an entree plate, not a full-sized dinner plate, so some of my shots may seem to show larger pieces of meat than I actually have. I do eat large meals, but not that large!

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter break!