Category Archives: Food Love

Reading Labels and Other Boring Crap That’s Totally Worth Your While

***This will be a short post, because I’m not concerned with you reading what I have to say. I’m just a lone lunatic. After looking over my brief rantings, I want you to check out the resources toward the end of this post.***

I know making the transition to clean eating is overwhelming and daunting. It can make you want to pull your hair and say, Well, what in the hell CAN I eat???” Here are a few points that may help you discern the real food from the overly-processed.

“Gluten-free”: All that’s gluten-free is not good to eat. Tortilla chips are gluten-free. Cocoa Krispies are gluten-free. Hand sanitizer is gluten free. Gasoline is gluten-free. You should try to avoid ingesting these items, and only drink gasoline in moderation. (I shouldn’t have to say this, but that was a joke. Please don’t drink gasoline. Not even oh-so delicious diesel.)

Oils: Heavily processed oils like corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil and margarine are not the “healthy alternatives” I grew up hearing they were. Even the term “vegetable oil” can be misleading (or an outright lie). A few “vegetable” oils – corn oil (corn is a grain, NOT a vegetable), soybean oil (legume, NOT a vegetable), and canola oil (canola is a cultivar of rapeseed… Wait, rapeseed? No thanks). The oils I just mentioned go through such an ungodly manufacturing process, your body can’t even recognize them as food. The good news – there are others that are also considered vegetable oils which are derived without the ridiculous amount of processing. When looking for oils closest to their original state, opt for those like olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, and animal fat.

Labels: You won’t get the vital information from the front of package (such as “all natural”, “gluten-free”, “low fat”, or “possibly maybe hopefully safe for human consumption”). Read the ingredients on the back. If you can’t pronounce it, then it probably isn’t good for you. Also, “natural flavors” is NOT an ingredient… I’ve never had any luck growing a “natural flavors tree”. The details of this “ingredient” are noticeably absent. Oh, and if you see the vague “vegetable oil” as an ingredient, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that it comes from a quality source.

Of all the literature I’ve read that is geared toward regular people, the following resource has to be one of the most useful and easiest to digest. (Pun absolutely intended.) Liz Wolfe co-authored THIS AWESOME GUIDE that will hit many of the above points in greater detail.

In addition to this guide, I recommend Liz as a source of information and inspiration. She shares her knowledge an research in a way that is not only funny, but also easy for the average person to understand. (In my case, a below-average person.) For some entertaining posts/podcasts/recipes on topics from clean eating, to skin care, to homesteading, check out one of her blogs HERE.

Take the next step. Apply this information. Research it for yourself. Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP! Or, if you have to give something up, give up highly-processed oils.

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Husbands CAN Like Vegetables

“How can I get my husband on board with clean eating?” This is a common question I get from women whose significant others are dead set on staying far away from leafy greens. He may fall under one of these categories: Doesn’t like fresh vegetables… Won’t give up *insert junk food name*… Won’t ever try anything new… Is kind of a turd. I assure you: I was once that husband, (sans turdishness).

For most of my life, I not only “didn’t like vegetables”, I was actively “anti-vegetable”. I almost wore it on my sleeve as a badge of honor that I was a carnivore, or at the least, a Ramen Noodle-ivore. To give my sandwiches that lettuce crunch, I added… Potato chips.

I was only okay eating canned green beans (the squishy cut ones), canned peas (as long as they had extra salt and hadn’t been convicted of any felonies), and canned corn (a grain, not even a vegetable). How would I ever eat salads, broccoli, or (*gasp*) Brussels sprouts?

Here are a few fresh ideas. If they hit home, let me know, and I can go more in-depth in a future post.

1. Trying to force the issue will not work: Serving up a steaming pile of broccoli with the disclaimer “if you don’t like it, you can cook for yourself” will backfire. In this case, not only will he cook for himself, but he will make the most unhealthy convenience food choice possible (Ramen, potato chips, frozen pizza, chocolate-covered MSG, etc).

2. Bacon! Just. Bacon. My wife warmed me up to so many different vegetables by simply slicing up a reasonable amount of (nitrate-free, uncured) bacon and frying it up in the same pan as some steamed (organic) veggies. It added richness and flavor to them that my uncivilized palate could not yet handle without bacon. Fresh whole green beans and Brussels sprouts were two of the first I was able to warm up to, all thanks to this miracle meat. “Bacon covers a multitude of vegetables,” as the Good Book says.

3. Focus on the positive: After your spouse has started to make better choices, focus on the progress, not on the shortfalls. I am the first to admit I don’t eat vegetables with every meal, but I eat them 10x as often as I did before (probably more… and fresh instead of canned). THEREFORE, I cheer myself on how far I’ve come, not how far I have left to go. Instead of casting a sideways glance and a sigh when your husband pops a pizza in the oven once a week, remember when pizza was on the menu three nights a week. What progress!

I could list several other things, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Most important: BE PATIENT! My wife rarely chided me when I mixed in my former food choices with the real meals she prepared. Before she knew it, I was cooking real food meals we could both enjoy.

Over time, my pantry, fridge, and appetite have evolved. We simply don’t buy junk food any more, because it’s no longer my favorite thing to eat.

…Except tortilla chips. My weakness. OMIGOD. In my defense, I only eat tortilla chips that are grass-fed and humanely butchered.

You Are What You Eat, So Don’t Be a Human

Today, I stopped to consider why I eat grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and carrion-fed condor. Maybe its just a mental thing, but I truly believe that animals raised on their natural food sources taste better. I can attest that wild-caught manatee is at least twice as good as farm-raised.

On top of the flavor, it just makes sense to me that what animals eat is passed on to us in one way or another. The nutrients in a cow’s body will come from their source of food, whether it is grass, corn, an unlucky farmhand who fell into the wheat thresher, grain, or grain by-products.

It’s not just from their diet, but also the other areas of their lifestyle. I only eat poultry from farms where the chickens are free-range, are not allowed to smoke, and they are never given malt liquor to excess.

Again, maybe it’s a mental thing, maybe it’s Maybelline, but I also physically feel better after changing over to organic meats. My stomach feels more satisfied after I eat a meal. It’s almost as if my body recognizes organic grass-fed beef more as food than it did the overly-processed, hormone-injected, grain by-product-fed beef. I find myself eating smaller portions, even without thinking about it. I think it’s also no coincidence that I got my taxes done a full month earlier, the Polar Vortex lifted, and Alex Trebek is still Canadian.

To really personalize it, though, I had to consider: “If someone ate me, would they be nourished, or would they get sick from all the toxins in my muscles, liver, bones, and oozy red stuff?”

And what would be a fitting side dish? Would I be served with red or white wine? Am I safe for someone with a peanut allergy?

There is plenty of research out there saying that organic beef is far more healthful than standard feedlot beef. On the other hand, there is plenty of research out there showing that feedlot beef is every bit as good for you as organic. I’m not linking to any of that here, because I fully believe you are smart enough and capable enough to research for yourself and make your own informed decision. I also happen to be very, very lazy. So happy Googling to you!

If, at the end of your research, you still don’t believe that you could really feel better by changing what foods you put in your body… then you can eat me.

Pay Leo if You Want to Live

In an effort get healthier and be able to climb a flight of stairs before clutching my chest, I have been trying to eat more real food. Some consider this to be synonymous with the “Paleo Diet”. I am not a strict Paleo follower who will slap a quinoa salad out of your hand and insult your mother, but there are some good parts of Paleo that can point you in the right direction. Here are my own observations:

The term “Paleo Diet” is derived from the term “Paleolithic Era”, which scientists detail as “the time when man had a unibrow and pooped in the woods”. I have been slowly working Paleo meals into my diet. One meal a day, wedged between McGriddles and Taco Bell.

When I mention Paleo, people ask me, “What is Paleo?”, and “Why did you force the topic of Paleo into a discussion about the ever-increasing price of gasoline?” Mostly the latter. In layman’s terms, Paleo is described as “what you can pick or hunt”. I try to incorporate those into as many meals as possible.

Corn and other grains are mostly out because they are not simply gathered – they must be cultivated. So, I stick with what can be picked. For lunch, I had an apple, my nose, friends, and a rental car (but I had to pay extra for insurance). Things that are not Paleo are just as simple to surmise: things which you cannot simply pick. For example: legumes, family, and your seat on a Priceline flight.

Lunchmeat and other processed meats are typically off-limits because they cannot be hunted. Well, that’s not entirely true, but the kind man at the grocery store asked me to leave when I put a spear through the Oscar Meyer smoked turkey. So if you want to stick to what can be hunted for, I recommend a balanced dinner of organic chicken thighs, your car keys, and a good deal on laundry detergent.

Speaking of Paleo meats – most meat found at your local grocery store is not, in the sincerest sense of the word, Paleo. Most beef and other meat-producing animals (sheep, chickens, goats, humans, etc.) are force-fed a strict diet of corn, diet cola, and cheeseburgers. Paleo experts (cavemen in lab coats who drag their women by the hair back to their caves) recommend eating only grass-fed or free-range meats.

I stray from the pack of experts, who are busy trying to overcome a wooly mammoth, by saying there is a better meat! I’m not often at the forefront of science, as I currently have 150 leeches draining the evil spirits from my body, but I believe there is a better form of beef. I figure: if eating grass-fed cows is very Paleo, then eating cows that only eat grass-fed beef is über-Paleo!

Before you know it, I will be selling (for $1,000 a pound, mind you) beef from cows that eat only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only beef that eats only grass that somehow eats beef that eats grass. It sounds really time-consuming, hence the markup. If you want a side for your beef-fed-beef-fed-beef-fed-grass-fed beef, I will also offer beef-fed grass. But don’t worry: the grass is fed a strict diet of grass-fed beef. So it’s still Paleo.

I know this sounds very daunting, given how grocery stores carry mostly processed foods. I personally get to the Paleo items more quickly by walking up to every teen-aged employee and shouting, “EXCUSE ME. I AM ON A PALEO DIET. PLEASE POINT ME TO THE PALEO FOODS.” At this point, he or she will point in a direction best described as “away” (then dart behind some magazines). Nine times out of ten, they will point you to the exit, but that one time out of ten, they will accidentally point you to the nitrate-free bacon. Goldmine.

Some would argue that, if eating Paleo were best for you, then Paleolithic man would still be around today! To you nay-sayers, I say, “Paleolithic man is among us! Just look at your average Nickelback fan. His knuckles drag the ground like the noble ape.”

I hope this crash course on Paleo helped you on your way to good health. If it did, I can only assume it was an act of God (which is NOT covered under your Homeowner’s Policy). If it did not help, we can probably credit that to the copious amount of misinformation I have dished out here.

Stay tuned for more posts covering REAL FOOD, AIP (auto-immune protocol), recipes, tips, and entertaining reads to pass the time.