Friday, May 6, 2011

Farewell for Now.. and the Inuit

If you've been checking in here lately, I apologize for the lack of updates.  I have been way busier with Paleo Plan than I thought I would be, and keeping up with both blogs has proven to be too hard for my sometimes writers blocked brain.  If you want to read my stuff, please visit, as it's updated three times per week.  Although this blog isn't officially retired, it's definitely not going to see any love for at least a month, while I'm in Spain (woo hoo!).  Until further notice, follow me here - the information on Paleo Plan is very often applicable to everyone  - not just Paleo eaters.  Thanks for your continued support!  For now, here's my latest from Paleo Plan - it's the first of a series of hunter gatherer profiles: the Inuit.
There's not much that fascinates me more than the diets of non-modernized people. Whether it be the present day Suri tribe in Africa, the Swiss mountain dwellers of 100 years ago or the ancient South Pacific islanders, it's all downright riveting to me. In my free time I watch movies about them, read books on what they ate, and compare it all to our modern lives. I'm a food dork in the weirdest way.

The more I learn about them, the crazier it is to me that our society thinks of hunter-gatherer people as unfortunate. They sure look better than most Americans, act way happier, and their blood work shows that they're generally healthier than we are, too. To be precise, they're not dying of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. What's really interesting to me is that the diets of these cultures are so varied. One is eating rats and beetles, while another is eating corn and cows' blood. Some are eating everything doused in seal oil. Which brings us to our hunter gatherer profile du jour: the Inuits.  Whether you like it or not, I'll be writing a whole lot more on the many hunter gatherer tribes of the world, ancient and recent.  The Inuit people seemed a good place to start - they're the extremest of the extreme.  Read on...

Eskimo or Inuit?
We hear a lot about the "Eskimos" - we even write songs about them. They live in igloos on glaciers and eat seals, right? Well, yes. Let's first get our semantics straight, though. The term, "Eskimo", is actually considered derogatory now by many people (interestingly, because it's thought by some to mean "he eats it raw", which they do sometimes, but I digress...).  The term "Eskimo" refers to the indigenous people of the Inuit and Yupik tribes who traditionally lived in the regions around the north pole from eastern Siberia, across Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. They're now known as "Inuit" people, but the Inuit people are not confined to just the Inuit tribe.  Many of the tribes who used to be known as Eskimo are Inuit.  It's kind of confusing - if you'd like to perplex yourself further about all the different tribes, names, languages, and contention that surrounds them, read more here.   What you need to know is that when I say Inuit, I'm talking about the seemingly superhumans who have figured out, in supreme style, how to hash it out in the coldest of cold environments.

These people have lived in very cold, agriculturally desolate areas for a very long time.  Their culture has stayed very much the same for potentially thousands of years, only recently (in the 1900's) being exposed to things like guns and modern clothing.  At least two explorers have (at separate times) visited and studied the Inuit people, the dentist and "Darwin of Nutrition",  Weston A. Price, and the anthropologist, Vilhjalmur Stefansson.  Here is what they found out about their diet.

Weston Price's Findings
In 1933, Weston Price and his wife traveled to many areas of Canada where indigenous people lived.  He sought out the most secluded, untouched groups of people and compared their facial bone structure and amount of tooth decay with their more modernized counterparts.  By modernized counterparts, I mean people of the same descent, sometimes relatives, who were in contact with and chose to eat pre-packaged food from America in varying amounts.

Price had found that his dental patients in America had terrible teeth, and he presumed it had to do with the country's declining diet, so he traveled the world to see what other people ate, and how their health compared.  The purpose of his studies, in his own words, was "to glean data that will be applicable for use in correcting certain tragic expressions of our modern degeneration, including tooth decay, general physical degeneration, and facial and dental-arch deformities, and character changes."  Big stuff.  He believed strongly that the state of our teeth was indicative of our overall health. Read his book if this interests you - it's amazing.  What he found was a vast difference in the amount of tooth decay between the native people who'd lived entirely on their traditional food and those living on refined, American, processed food. In one area (which was not an abnormal area), there was a 144 fold increase in tooth decay among the processed food eaters...

What They Ate
The traditional diet looked something like this: LOTS of sea creatures like salmon (fresh and dried), much of which they caught with spears from small kayaks; salmon eggs (often dried), seals (also speared from their kayaks), walrus, other fish, and seal oil (rich in vitamin A).  The fish was often dipped in seal oil before being dried.  From the land, they hunted caribou, moose, reindeer, various birds, and other game.  In the summer, they gathered nuts, kelp, berries (including cranberries) that were stored by freezing (it was still very cold during the summer), flower blossoms and sorrel grass, both preserved in seal oil.  Also, very important were the organs they harvested from larger sea animals, like whale skin (a good source of vitamin C) and seal livers (an excellent source of vitamin D).  So even without an abundance of fruits and vegetables, they were still getting their nutrients, including a fantastic amount of omega 3 fatty acids.  As one expert in "Eskimo" nutrition says, "There are no essential foods—only essential nutrients. And humans can get those nutrients from diverse and eye-opening sources."

To show you the differences in the health of the traditional eaters compared to their standard American diet scarfing relatives, here are some pictures of the people Price found.  The first set are of traditional diet eaters.  A couple of notes: the top left woman has a broken tooth, but she had no tooth decay and had at least 26 children.  Their teeth are ground down because sand naturally blows into the fish and fish eggs while they're drying, so they end up eating it.  They also use their teeth in the leather tanning process, which wears them down.  They all have prominent facial bone structure compared with the pictures to follow.  On the bottom are some photos of Inuits who were eating the American food.  I think they speak for themselves:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price, pg. 59  
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price, pg. 63

Vilhfalmur Stefansson's Findings
Vilhfalmur Stefansson wrote a book about his stay with the "Eskimos" called My Life with the Eskimo, which, for some reason you can read online here.  He was with them before Weston Price, and found similar things in his studies.  Namely, that you can thrive on a very, very low carbohydrate diet.  For up to 6-9 months of the year, they ate nothing but meat and fish. Stefansson noted that his hosts got the necessary nutrients in the winter without much (or any) vegetable matter by eating the organs and oils we talked about above. He reported that there were no ill health effects to them or himself when he lived with them (he stayed with them for 11 years total), and for that he came up against a lot of scrutiny.  He proved his naysayers wrong by going on a year-long meat and entrails-only diet and maintaining excellent health.

The traditional Inuit diet is the lowest in carbohydrates and the highest in combined protein and fat of the many hunter-gatherer diets that have been studied.  I chose to write on the Inuit first in this series of hunter gatherer profiles for a reason: I think it's the most fitting to fly in the face of the conventional belief that a lot of fat and protein is bad for you.  Just goes to show that it can work if you're eating the right kind of fats and proteins...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Are What You Eat (Omega 3s and Meat)

As a total cop out, I'm borrowing this post from my other website,
because I can't seem to keep up with this blog.  I've been busy going on vacation, getting engaged :) and writing for Paleo Plan.  My apologies to all of you who've been DYING for a new blog post. If you want to read my stuff, please go to Paleo Plan where there are 3 new posts per week.  Thanks!

Today I’d like to focus on something that is incredibly close to my heart: the importance of the source of your meats.  As some of you know, I was a vegetarian for about 10 years, and my reason for not eating meat was my bleeding heart for animals’ welfare.  I'm about to go PETA on you for a minute, so beware.

When I decided not to eat meat, it was because I didn’t want to have anything to do with a cut of steak that came from a cow that wasn’t quite dead while it was being butchered.  Or a chicken whose beak was melted down to a nub so it couldn’t anxiously peck the eyes out of its featherless cage-mate.  Or a pig that was fed its own feces while standing forever in a pen that just barely housed its obese body.
But after about 10 years of not eating meat, I needed the dense protein that only animal flesh can provide.  I was sick, and I needed to eat what I am “programmed” to eat.  Once I started doing that, I started healing.

However, it wasn’t like I just started eating any old meat I could find.  I began researching all the different brands of meats to find out how their animals were treated before and while they were slaughtered.  I wanted to eat animals that were given a proper environment to thrive in with clean food and pure water to nourish them.  And it turns out that the better they’re treated, the better they are for us to eat.

When a cow or (enter animal here) lives its whole life eating GMO corn and not moving around, its body takes note.  If you were to eat corn and not move around, your body would take note, too (as about two-thirds of the American population can attest to).  You get fat and so do the animals. The fatty acid content is a lot different in an animal who’s been corn fed and under-exercised than one who’s been grazing on grass and moving around its whole life.   It’s like the difference between a sedentary obese guy and a, well, hunter gatherer who walks, reaches, runs, jumps, and manipulates his environment to get what he wants.  Your whole body changes when you do these things (as some of you can attest to), and so does the fatty acid and protein content of your body.  You get more muscle and less fat.

The kinds of fatty acids you’ll find in a grass-fed cow are much different than a factory farmed animal, too.  There is more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega 3 fatty acids in grass fed animals because the grass itself contains more of those beneficial fatty acids (1).  CLA has some anticancer effects and may help you firm up that belly fat(6).  And as you probably know, omega 3 fatty acids are the kind of fats you find in abundance in fish, and they are anti-inflammatory.  I’m not just talking about the kind of inflammation you have when you’re in pain, either, like with a sprained ankle or arthritis.  Inflammation is behind everything from diabetes to cancer to migraine headaches, not to mention heart disease.  You want to fight inflammation anyway possible, and eating pasture-raised beef & eggs is one way to do it.

How Much Omega 3 Is Really In Beef?
For instance, there are 38.5 mg of omega 3's in 3.5 oz of grain fed beef, while there are 93.2 mg in grass fed.  That's almost 3x the amount of inflammation-fighting fatty acids in grass fed beef.
On the other hand, that same 3.5 oz of conventional, grain fed beef contains 285 mg of omega 6 fatty acids, which are the  pro-inflammatory counterpart to omega 3's (read: not good for you).  That's compared to 171 mg in grass fed beef (1).

 Now compared with 3.5 oz of wild caught Alaskan salmon at 2.2 GRAMS of omega 3's , there's not that much in beef (3).  To put this all into perspective further, if you were to take a good fish oil supplement to try to get your omega 3s that way, a dose is usually about 1-2 gm.  (I think the real lesson here is that we all need to be eating more fish...)
But most people in this country aren't eating salmon: you're eating burger meat and chicken (4), so we need to get our omega 3's where we can get them.  If grass fed beef is going to have almost 3 times the amount of omega 3's and almost half the amount of omega 6's, that's what I'm going to eat.

And In Eggs?
A conventional large egg houses about 33 mg of omega 3's. One study showed that a pasture raised egg contains about twice that amount (5).

Organic Isn't Necessarily Grass Fed
Even if you think you’re doing yourself a favor by buying organic beef, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the fatty acid content of this animal is much different than a factory farmed one.  Organic only means that the animal had a little more room to move around, that it was not fed anything that had been sprayed with pesticides, and that it wasn’t given antibiotics at any point in its life.
So, yes, it’s fantastic that organic animals aren’t given antibiotics in their water supply like conventional animals, and that their food isn’t laced with toxic pesticides that will end up in its muscles, which we will eat.  BUT it also means that that cow could have been standing in a fairly dirty pen for most of its life, being fed organic corn and other grain silage, which is inherently hard for it to digest.

You Are What You Eat
It’s trite, but it's true.  Do you want to eat a  Zenned out cow in a field of grass, happily munching on what IT was designed to eat, or a freaked out cow who is sick from being knee deep in other cows’ manure and eating food that makes its stomachs hurt? Do you want to eat an egg from a chicken who was so obese that she couldn’t even walk or one that was running around in a pasture with her girlfriends eating bugs out of manure piles all day?

Do you want to be eating animal products that promote illness or ones that help prevent it?  You choose.

1. Nutritional Differences between Grass and Grain Fed Beef: Health Implication, Cordain, L.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More = Less: Thoughts on Women's Weight Loss

This is a muumuu.

I recently taught a community nutrition class, and there was a particular student in the class who kept proclaiming with gusto that she ate every 2 hours every day.  I kept thinking to myself, 'That's silly and unnecessary.  Why would she do that? What a waste of time.  Why doesn't she just eat more at each meal and have breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner like any normal human being should?  She must be even more strapped to her kitchen than I am, and that's, like, impossible.'

Through our eight weeks together, I wondered why she kept saying it.  Every single class.  And then she'd qualify it by explaining that her body was like a car and that it needed gas all the time, etc., etc.  I thought that maybe she should try putting more gas in her "car" every time she filled it up instead of putting 5 dollars' worth in her tank at every gas station she saw.

Through those eight weeks together, I also was continually gaining weight.  I gained about 5 pounds over a 3 month period, despite my continued efforts to not only work out more, but to eat less like a good little weight-loss drone should do.  My favorite jeans wouldn't fit.  I found myself wearing clothes that looked more like muumuus than professional attire.  You know how it feels: no, you're not "fat", but it sure feels like it because you're so uncomfortable.  Despite my efforts following Shaun T. through his Insanity workouts 5 days a week, climbing 4 or 5 times a week, and hiking 5 days a week, I was slowly gaining.  It's not just about looking good, either.  I have a climbing trip to Kentucky scheduled for this Friday and then another one to Spain in May; I need to get my ass in shape and lean out so I can climb well.

Anyway, I was confused, befuddled, at a loss.  I thought, 'I'm a nutritionist!  Why can't I figure this out?  I eat well, I don't eat too much, and I work out.  I think my thyroid must be broken.  I'm getting on thyroid medication.  Maybe my adrenals are blown out - I should get on corticosteroids.  Or maybe my hormones are going crazy and I need to be on the pill.'  It's in these moments of desperation that I start looking at the Google ads on the side of my screen wondering what the "secrets of belly fat" really are...

And then my boyfriend sat me down for a talking to, and said the word "calories".  Oh no, you didn't, Seth!  I'm a nutritionist - I don't eat too many calories.  There's something WRONG with my body!  How dare he question the amount of food I eat.

So, of course, I spent the entirety of the next day on my computer, hashing out exactly the number of calories I had been eating.  And it was approximately twice the amount that I should have been eating.  "I wondered about that half pound of pork sausage you were having every morning," he murmured when I told him the news.

Now what?  I cut down on my calories and STARVE to death every day?  That's going to SUCK and I won't be able to do it.  Cut out all things delicious that I recently added back to my diet?  Stop eating carbohydrates?  Yeah, that's sustainable...  Wait, I could eat every 2 hours just a little bit and then I won't feel hungry or have blood sugar crashes!  Wait.

So I've been doing just that for about a week and a half now and it's working.  Yes, it is already working.  She was right.

I think that for some people whose blood sugar has been damaged from years and years of sugar abuse, this is the plan that will have to do, at least for a while.  I knew this, but I didn't believe for one second that I was one of those damaged people who needed this kind of treatment.  Nevertheless, my blood sugar is benefiting from constant feeding.  Because I'm never hypoglycemic, my body never believes it's starving to death, and therefore it doesn't hold on to body fat just in case.  Eating every two hours keeps my brain functioning better all day because I'm not hypoglycemic between breakfast and lunch anymore.  And I'm eating all of the foods I want to eat - just not as much of them.  In one week I lost half of those 5 pounds. 

The moral of the story is that I am not alone in eating too much, and I am not alone in having messed up my blood sugar through the years.  This could easily be you.  You, too, could need to be the idiot who stops at every gas station for a little dose of fuel because your car is confused about how to handle a lot of gas at once.  This isn't the way we are evolutionarily supposed to be, though!  We should be okay with a little starvation sometimes, just like our ancestors were so often when the game was scarce.  But then I remember that the women of hunter-gatherer tribes were walking around collecting food all day, probably eating little bits here and there.  Maybe we evolved differently, men and women.  I don't know any guy who gets as "hangry" as I do when I don't eat.  I've never had one male client who sees little flashing lights and almost passes out after skipping a meal; it's almost always women who are like this.  So maybe the guys are more equipped to be running around with empty stomachs all day, chasing down the big stuff while we women are better off eating little bits here and there.  Just a thought...     

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Site, New Diet, New Life

Oh, my options are endless!
Welcome to the new site! The Revival of the Foodist blog, after a lot of thought, has been retired, and the blog will now reside here, at Neely Quinn, rEvolutionary Nutrition.  I've left Food As Medicine Holistic Health Counseling to go out on my own as a Nutrition Therapist and health educator.  My new business name, rEvolutionary Nutrition, obviously has its roots in my overarching philosophy, that we all should eat more like our distant ancestors did: meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs.  My convictions about this have grown a lot deeper over the last year or so, and I can't help but to let that permeate my business.  On that subject, I've been very busy writing for Paleo Plan, the Paleo meal planning service I recently became a part of.  Please check out the site for more information on the Paleo/evolutionary/ancestral way of eating.    

In the couple of weeks since I last wrote here, my life has changed a lot.  Yes, professionally things have been overhauled, but my food world has also been undergoing some renovations.  For all people with food sensitivities, I am here to tell you from experience that you CAN HEAL.  Hallelujah!!  I now have what's close to a normal diet!  I'm not saying that I'm gonna go eat a seitan burger (pronounced "satan"), but the poignant fact is that I probably could eat one and not feel awful.  After taking a food sensitivities test last March, I dutifully eradicated about half of my diet, including raspberries, all grains, pork, lamb, salmon, olive oil, celery, nuts, seeds, and arugula, among many other delicious, every day foods.  But most of those foods are now back in my diet.

The reasons I did the food sensitivities test (and the reasons many other people do it) were that I was constantly itchy from eczema, my digestion was temperamental at best, I had frequent breakouts on my skin and I was anxious.  Very anxious.  And I wanted to see what the whole food sensitivities test was all about.  I did an elimination diet after the test and figured out that a lot of the foods I listed above either gave me a profuse runny nose, immediately itchy skin, a hangover the next day, terrible stomach cramps, diarrhea or a debilitating headache.  Super fun stuff. 

There's nothing like being at a dinner party where you can't eat anything.  There's definitely nothing like having to cook every. single. one of your meals from scratch for yourself every day.  Seth and I didn't go out on a dinner date (and therefore a date at all) for the last year because there's nowhere in Boulder that you can go to get a Neely-proof meal off the menu. 

I was conditioned to be literally afraid of olive oil and pork as if they were truly and inherently dangerous.  I am going to Spain in May for an entire month, and upon researching what I would have to eat in Spain, I found there is a profusion of, yes, olive oil and pork.  So a couple of weeks ago I told myself to sack up and just eat them.  I thought only good thoughts and I accepted the possibility of the consequences, and then I took a deep breath and took a bite of an olive oil dish.  And nothing happened.  Then I ate pork.  Nothing happened.  I ate pepper and celery and carrots and an entire meal off the menu at The Kitchen in Boulder (on a real date with Seth).  Nothing happened.  You've probably never been overjoyed by eating celeriac or wine sauce, or exulted at the thought of consuming baby carrots and hummus.  You can't imagine my delight.      

So for everyone out there who has food sensitivities and is avoiding their favorite foods at all costs, never fear:  it is possible to eat those things again.  Stay diligent and you, too, may be able to eat freely once again.  It's just a matter of giving your gut and immune system some time away from those foods so it all has time to calm down and heal.  For some, it only takes a couple of weeks or months, but for others it can take years.  However long it takes, it will be worth it...     

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Favorite Breakfast

Shaun T. of the Insanity Workout Videos...
This week, I'm going to tell you what my favorite breakfast is, but before I begin, I want to share my big news...

Today marks my first official week as part of the website Paleo Plan is a meal planning subscription service for people who are eating the Paleo diet, and I recently joined them as the blogger and content/resources creator.  For those of you who are thinking about going Paleo and want to have your hand held through the process, Paleo Plan is the site for you.  There are also some fantastic recipes on the site that are free, so if you're looking for some new ideas for meals and snacks, check it out.  This turn in my career is sort of a dream come true - I'm gonna get paid to write!  Don't worry - I'll still be writing here every week, too.

On the topic of meals and meal planning, I vehemently believe that eating a solid breakfast is THE most beneficial thing you can do for yourself every day.  I've actually been experimenting with this phenomenon in my own life lately.  I eat a hearty egg-based breakfast almost every single day.  However, this week, I've had 2 instances when I didn't eat my normal breakfast.

One time was when I was super late for a morning appointment and I could not make a good breakfast.  The other time was yesterday morning when my boyfriend punched me awake at 6 am to do some asinine workout video he told me I had "committed" to doing with him.  I never committed to anything.  Regardless, there I was at 6 am fighting to stay awake after only 6 hours of sleep.  Having never done any exercise beyond a push-up out of bed at 6 in the morning, I was in no state to be embarking on a 60-day "Insanity" workout program.  You may be saying to yourself, "6 hours? That's how much sleep I get every night.  Working out at 6am?  I do that all the time."  Well, I DON'T.  I like my 8 hours of sleep, my late nights, and missing sunrises every morning.

So of course, having told all of my clients that they must eat breakfast before working out in the morning, regardless of what time it is, I had a little bit of sprouted seed and nut "cereal" with almond and coconut milk for breakfast.  Really bad idea before jumping around at a psychotic pace for 30 minutes.  The moral of the story is that I slept for almost the entire day.  I was groggy, nauseous, grumpy and low energy.  Maybe this is a bad example, considering the circumstances.  The other time it happened this week, though, I felt the same way - I was not myself at all for the entire day.  I felt headache-y, super low energy, grumpy and easily agitated.    

Some of you are saying to yourselves, "But I'm not even hungry in the morning - I must just not NEED breakfast."  What you need to understand about breakfast is that when you wake up and you're nauseous and/or don't feel like eating, it's because your blood sugar got so low during the night that your adrenal glands started secreting hormones like cortisol.  The cortisol stimulated the release of your stores of glucose into your bloodstream so that you could survive the night.  The other hormone that was secreted while you were sleeping was adrenaline, because that's what happens when your body senses an emergency situation (super low blood sugar).

The reason you woke up in the morning nauseous or apathetic about eating is that adrenaline, as you know, does not make you feel like eating.  It makes you feel like vomiting.  Ever narrowly evade a car crash and immediately say, "I could really go for a Big Mac right now"?  No, adrenaline makes your digestion slow down so that the emergency parts of your body (muscles, heart, etc.) can work better and faster.  No matter who you are or what health conscious Colorado city you live in, it's very likely that your blood sugar is so poorly managed by your diet that your adrenal glands have to manage it for you.  And you probably wake up in the morning and stimulate your adrenals to shoot out even more cortisol by giving yourself a ritualistic oral injection of caffeine...   Do you know what that constant supply of cortisol in your circulation gives you?  Among other things, abdominal fat.

Good health starts with breakfast.  If you eat a decent breakfast of protein, fat and complex carbs, you're starting things off the right way, avoiding blood sugar crashes, and thus, cortisol and adrenaline secretion.  If you eat something super sugary or full of refined carbs like, let's see, cereal, bagels, pastries, bars, fruit juice, doughnuts, etc., your blood sugar spikes, then quickly plunges back down and the hormones are secreted again.  If, after the good breakfast (protein, fat, complex carbs), you then have a good lunch (protein, fat, complex carbs), a good snack (you get the point) and a good dinner, you will probably wake up in the morning hungry like a normal person would after not eating for an entire night.  You should try it sometime.  Here's the recipe for success:

Veggie, Egg, Bacon Scramble
(15 min total prep/cook time, feeds one hungry person)

  2 Jumbo Pasture-Raised Eggs
1 Tbs Organic Coconut Oil
2 Slices Organic Bacon
3/4 C Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
1 C. Chopped Organic Kale
1/3 C Diced Organic Jicama
1 Pinch Sea Salt
  1. Put bacon in toaster oven or in a pan on medium heat to cook for about 10 min while everything else is being prepped/cooked.
  2. Place large sauté pan on medium heat (medium-low with a non non-stick pan) with 1 tbs coconut oil in it.  
  3. Chop or dice kale, mushrooms, jicama on large cutting board.  (Do not make them perfect.  You're racing to get these things chopped before the oil in the pan burns.)  Line 'em up on the board and toss them in with the now hot oil in pan.  Spread the veggies out and cover pan for about 3 min.
  4. Keep stirring them until they're softer but still colorful (about 3 more minutes).  Add pinch salt.
  5. Add eggs - just crack them into the pan.  Break yolks with your spatula and mix them up with veggies evenly.  Let it all cook for about 1 minute. 
  6. Stir for about 2 - 3 more minutes until everything is evenly cooked (eggs should no longer be runny).
  7. Take out your bacon, cut it up and add to the egg mixture. 
  8. Enjoy
This meal is packed with protein (about 19gm), good fats (eggs, coconut oil & organic meat fats) and complex carbs (veggies).  You could add a few blueberries for that little bit of sweet we all love in the morning.  If you're not a coconut oil fan, do this with olive oil.  Whatever you do, just eat your breakfast.

Until next time. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Favorite Bread Alternative

This is why I haven't blogged in a while...
It has been quite a while since I last blogged, and for that I apologize.  I posted a photo of me above, in case you were wondering what I've been so busy doing.  I just got back from a vacation to Florida where (in between tanning sessions at the pool and beach) I gave my family a crash course on how to eat better.  Whenever you're a strange eater and you go home to visit family, there are inevitably questions about your culinary preferences.  After so many years of this, my family is actually incredibly accommodating, driving me around town for ingredients and tolerating my many special needs.  Some memorable conversational tidbits?  "Neely, I don't understand how you eat so much," upon seeing my breakfast.  Every. single. morning.  Or "Ewwww, it smells like cabbage in here now.  Gross."  My favorite quote of the week, though, was when we were driving past a tattoo parlor discussing whether or not my mom, sister and I should get tattoos.  My mom's response?  "Well, I have always wanted a tramp stamp."  She insisted she was kidding...    

Back to food, though.  The question I was asked the most over the week was about my famous (well, among my 3 friends and me) tapioca crepes.  "How do you make those?  They look delicious!  What's the recipe?"  I told my mom I'd write her an email with the recipe in it, but here's a blog post instead, Mom.

First of all, though, what is tapioca?  What you've probably conjured in your mind is the tapioca pudding that your grandmother used to make - super sweet, really sticky little balls.  Well, it does come in ball form, but you can also buy it as flour.  For you Boulderites, it's also the "boba" in your boba tea at Pekoe.
Tapioca, also known as cassava, cassada, cassaba, yuca (not to be confused with yucca), akpu, kabba, and mushu, among many other things, is the starch of the root of a woody shrub in the spurge family.  It's the third largest source for carbohydrates in the WORLD.  That's why it has so many names - it's found in all parts of the world, but is native to South America.  It's a fantastic source of food, but only if it's processed appropriately.  If you just sit down and eat a raw cassava root, there's a good chance you'll get cyanide poisoning and die, so don't do it.  Leave it up to the pros to soak, ferment or cook it and then put it in a tidy package for you before you eat it. 

While tapioca is not technically on the list of acceptable foods for Paleo eaters, it's not a grain, and it's not a legume.  It's certainly not dairy and it's not a potato, so I'm calling it good.  I make an exception for it because I love - LOVE - bread, and this yummy substance makes sticky, stretchy, bread-like foods.  I would be lying to you if I said it offered much in the way of nutrients to your diet besides carbohydrates.  It's a pleasure food.  It's an energy food for active people who can't seem to get enough carbohydrates on the Paleo diet from fruits and veggies.  And it's gluten free, of course.  You can make crepes, pancakes, muffins, cakes, bread, or whatever you want out of this stuff.  I just happen to like very simple recipes, so I make crepes.  I eat them with my egg scrambles.  If I need a dessert once in a while, I'll cook one up and put a bit of honey and coconut oil on it.  Or I'll wrap some salmon salad up in one.  All good options.  If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  

Here's the recipe:

Tapioca Crepes 1:1:1
(makes 5-7 crepes)

1 C Tapioca Flour (or "Starch" - same thing)
1 C Organic Coconut Milk (Native Forest cans contain no BPA)
1 Pasture Raised Egg
1. Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl.   
2. Heat up coconut or olive oil in a pan on medium low until a drop of water sizzles in it. 
3. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the mixture and tilt the pan in all directions to spread out batter to desired thickness.
4. Cook both sides until very lightly brown.
5. Add salt and any other herbs (sweet or savory).
6. Enjoy!

I usually make one and then put the rest of the batter into a mason jar or other tupperware (preferably not plastic) and store it in the fridge for up to a week.   

Allergen Note:  If you can not eat eggs, you can substitute the egg for 2 tablespoons of water and it turns out just as well.

Oh, and if you don't like my crepe recipe, if you google "tapioca recipes", you'll come up with 818,000 results (which I won't list here), so knock yourself out.  If you do try this one, let me know how it turns out!

Until next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Make Chard Taste Amazing in 10 Minutes

My very dear friend, Cat, who will hopefully be guest blogging soon, is an excellent cook.  She is a fellow omnitard, meaning she is not only gluten sensitive (a glutard) or dairy intolerant (a lactard),  but that she has so many food sensitivities that she is an omnitard.  She must avoid almost all pre-packaged or prepared foods.  In other words, like me, she buys, prepares and cooks 95% of her food in her own kitchen.  Unlike me, though, she is creative in her kitchen.  In the midst of enjoying some of her creations, she'll sometimes text me entire recipes.  Here's one:  "hv I ever given u recipe for rainbow chard??? Saute in coc oil. Add coc milk. Add salt add lemon.  Omg delic"  She's really good at text speak.  Sometimes I wonder how I even understand what she writes, but I always do.  Even if at first I say out loud, "Why the hell is she using cock milk?" Ohhh, coconut milk - got it.  

My second thought on that email was, 'Chard?  Delicious?  She's so f#@king weird.'  She told me about the amazing chard recipe a couple more times, and each time I nodded and smiled at her outlandish claim that it was truly amazing.  How delicious could chard, lemon and coconut be?

And then she made it for me.  The fact that I've dedicated an entire post to this recipe speaks volumes about its flavor and satiety factor.  It's hard for me to feel full without meat.  As many of you know, I like my meat and it belongs on my plate, but when I ate this chard deliciousness, I was full and needed nothing else.  For at least an hour.

What I've realized lately is that you don't necessarily want to hear me blather on about the reasons to eat or not eat certain foods.  You just want me to say, "Eat this, buy it here, do this with it and eat it at this time of day."  I will try to do more of that in these posts in the future.  I may even devote an entire post per week to recipes and cooking tips if you all would like that (comments are appreciated).

Before I give you the recipe, though, why should you eat chard?  I bet you've walked past it a thousand times in the grocery store, not daring to buy it because you didn't know what to do with it, right?  Well, for that reason alone you should try this recipe.  It is a dark green, leafy vegetable, and that alone is enough to deduce that it contains a LOT of nutritional value.  All of those colors that make up the dark greens, reds, pinks, and yellows in rainbow chard all signify different nutrients.  About three dozen antioxidant phytonutrients have been found in chard, including betalains and epoxyxanthophylls.  These antioxidants decrease inflammation, and therefore help keep us safe from atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.  Besides that, though, chard is an excellent source of bone building vitamins and minerals like vitamin K and calcium; it has a lot of fiber to help with blood sugar regulation; and it contains B vitamins that increase energy and help keep us happy.  Chard.  It's good for you.  Read more about it here.

Chard Delicious 
(total prep/cook time: 10 min, serves 2 vegetable lovers)
1 bunch organic chard
1/3 can organic coconut milk (preferably Native Forest - it has no BPA's in the can liner)
1 tbs organic coconut oil
1/2 organic lemon
salt to taste (5 shakes)
(optional protein - shrimp, scallops, chicken, salmon...)

-Start melting the coconut oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
-In the meantime, rinse the chard well and chop it roughly, stalk included (good fiber in there).
-Drop the chard into the pan and cover it up.  Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
-Add coconut milk, lemon and salt and stir in evenly.
-Let cook for a couple more minutes and serve.
-Optionally, cook protein option beforehand and add in to chard mix.

Next time I'll get the camera out and take gorgeous, appetizing shots of what I (or Cat) make, but for now, you'll just have to trust me.  Eat this as part of a balanced meal (with a protein source) - in the morning, noon or night.  It will keep you warm, fill you up, and tantalize the taste buds.  At least, that's what it did for me.

Until next time.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

3 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Nose Snot-Free

Everyone I know is sick.  Alright not everyone, but on Facebook yesterday my News Feed informed me that four of my male friends had runny noses and fevers.  You can hear it in people's nasaly voices, see it in their red, teary eyes and hear when they hawk their disgusting loogies, which, by the way, grosses me out more than you can know. 

The sad part is not that you're miserable and ailing, but that you think this is normal.  "Yeah, I guess it's just time for my bi-monthly phlegm infection.  Is that the way you want to live?  Constantly recovering from brawls between your immune system and little, tiny bacterial or viral invaders?  And if it's not a cold, it's seasonal allergies. 

So you take your NyQuil and your DayQuil, and don't forget your daily allergy medication that may or may not render you unable to operate heavy machinery (your car).  If you don't like taking conventional medicines, you go for the more "natural" options: herbal remedies, homeopathic pellets, burning candles in your ears, or inhaling steamy tea tree oil to cleanse the sinus cavities.  But the only gooey wax you see after burning those ear candles is from the candles themselves - they do nothing but cost you money.   

I'm not saying natural remedies like your Kick Ass Immune tincture, Neti pots, and C Monster supplements aren't useful when used appropriately.  I'm just saying that it would be nice if we didn't get sick in the first place.  The reason everyone is so sick and snotty all the time is that our immune systems SUCK, and a little echinacea is not going to fix that, guys.  There's something much more potent to help you with those colds and allergies, and it's not sold in a bottle.  Since you all seem to need catchy phrases to sell you on immune boosting products and programs, I'll call it my MaxImmune NutriProgram for Optimal Wellness.  In other words, eat better.   

Here's a sequence of events that happens to the best of us:
  1. Get born.
  2. Eat shitty, refined, sugary foods (that Mom may or may not have known were shitty).
  3. Due to shitty food, you don't get enough nutrients (protein, vitamins and minerals) to create a strong immune system.
  4. Immune system gets tired and can't attack things properly (flu virus, that pesky syphilis, etc.).
  5. Immune system gets confused because it's really over-worked and under-educated.
  6. Immune system starts attacking things it shouldn't attack (weeping willow bits, foods, YOUR OWN BODY).
  7. Immune system is so tired and confused that it doesn't respond quickly or efficiently to viruses and bacteria.

And thus we end up with weak, confused immune systems that don't know what they're supposed to be doing.  We get sick a lot, we have allergies to random things, including foods, and we get autoimmune disorders (where your immune system attacks your own body) like multiple sclerosis, celiac and Hashimoto's.  Much of your immune system is made up of proteins, and it takes many different nutrients to get it to work well.  You get these proteins and nutrients in large part from FOOD.  Let me repeat that.  Your immune system, as well as every other part of your body, is produced from the food you eat. 

Here are your instructions for building a strong immune system so you don't get sick in the first place:

1. Eat regularly.  Your body needs to have a constant supply of energy so that your immune system can do everything it needs to do.  You can't create cells and tissues without good food, much less heal them.  Eat protein, fat and complex carbohydrates at every meal and snack, and don't go more than 3 or 4 hours without eating.  Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, sleep, repeat.  You may just lose some weight doing this, too.  

2.  Don't eat things your body doesn't like.  For various reasons, people's immune systems often flare up when they come into contact with certain foods.  Your body sees the food as a foreign invader and attacks it, which causes you to feel symptoms.  In the case of true food allergies, your lips may swell up and go numb, hives might appear, and your heart could potentially stop due to anaphylactic shock.  Food sensitivities are similar in that your immune system attacks a food and causes symptoms, but the mechanism is different.  To be exact, food allergies are mediated by immunoglobulin E and sensitivities are caused by other parts of your immune system.  Again, being sensitive to a food just means that your immune system has a negative reaction to it.  It could be that it makes you depressed, it makes your joints achy, or it gives you a headache.  It might give you hives or diarrhea, acne or a yeast infection.  Many symptoms are possible because your immune system has a lot of different tactics.

When you're continually eating things that are causing negative immune responses, it's really hard on your body, and it leaves a weaker immune system to fight off things like the flu.  So if you just love sunflower seeds, but you're actually sensitive to them (and have headaches all the time), your immune system is constantly working on responding to the sunflower seeds.  When you want your huge, well-fed, agile army on hand to attack the bacteria your kid just sneezed all over your face, you have half of a poorly-fed, tired-ass army instead.

If you want to know what foods you're sensitive to, you can find out.  You can either take out foods you suspect cause problems and see if you feel any better, or you can get tested through several different companies.  If you're interested in this process, contact me and set up an appointment.  A lot of people have problems with wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar and/or chocolate, but you personally may have an issue with raspberries or beef or garbanzo beans.  Or all of the above.  I can tell you this:  I've never seen a food sensitivities test come back negative, and I've never seen anyone NOT improve after taking out their offending foods.              

3. Eat foods that have a fantastic array of nutrients in them.  When I say that, I know you conjure some superfood in your media-washed brains like acai berries from the Amazon or pomegranates from ancient Greece.  While those foods are great, I'm not talking about them.  All whole foods (vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, nuts, seeds) have nutrients in them, and even more so if they're organic and raised properly.  Grains and legumes have some nutrients in them, too, but we won't go there right now.

Let me remind you about why you need these nutrients.  Let's take, for example, the antibody (aka immunoglobulin).  The antibody is the part of your immune system that identifies and neutralizes foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses.  It's crucial for responding to that nasty flu virus quickly and efficiently so that you don't have to feel awful for 3 weeks, or even 3 days.  You need protein and B vitamins to build these antibodies, both of which you get in the largest quantities from animal products.  You also need vitamin C from fruits and vegetables to keep your antibodies (particularly immunoglobulin A) from being depleted.  Here's a link to an article on that. 

If your diet is mostly made up of refined grains, pasteurized cheese and sugar, all of which have little usable goodness in them, think about adding more veggies, meats, nuts, seeds and fruits in order to get your protein and vitamins.  Think of sugar as a caloric wedge between you and your nutrients.  Sugar takes up calories in your diet that could otherwise be spent on nutrient dense foods that will help you build a strong immune system.  Plus, sugar makes you fat and tired.  It's what's giving you your muffin top.  It can also lower your libido, make you depressed and give you acne.  I guess all of those symptoms work well together because, well, who wants to have sex with you if you're fat, tired, sick, depressed and have acne?  Ha!  Just kidding.  But seriously... 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

5 Foods You'll Usually Find in My Kitchen

I will admit that I was not always a role model when it came to my profession.  Far from it.  My evolution as a good eater has been slow and steady, punctuated by headlong plummets into sugar land.   On the first day of school for nutrition, I remember walking into class with some Fig Newtons I'd gotten from a gas station down the street for breakfast.  I was starving and couldn't wait to eat those suckers.  In those days, if I ate breakfast it could always have passed for dessert - doughnuts, sugary instant oatmeal with sugar on top, sugary cereals with skim milk and sugar on top... Lunch would be an entire giant burrito from Qdoba or a 7-layer burrito from Taco Bell (both vegetarian and devoid of any protein, of course).  And dinner was pasta.  Just white noodles and some sort of preservative and pesticide-laden, zero protein marinara sauce.  Dessert?  Maybe an entire pint of rainbow sherbet or a bunch of cookies.  I never went long without a Mountain Dew, Twix bar or some sort of pastry, either.  Love those pastries.  The part that I have to remember sometimes is that when I walked in with those Fig Newtons for breakfast, I didn't think I'd done anything wrong.  And if someone at that point in my life had told me not to eat that for breakfast, I would have been pissed. off.  But here I am writing every week, probably pissing at least a few people off every time, because I wish someone HAD said something to me.  Anyway, by the end of my 4 year tenure in school my diet had changed a bit.  It still changes all the time as I figure out what works for me and as I continue to learn.

In school, I had the opportunity to be a nanny for the daughter of Esther Cohen, the director of my school.  Esther was really influential in my life as a teacher, a role model, and a mentor.  The great part about being her nanny was that I knew exactly what was in her refrigerator and cupboards at her house.  I knew what she, her kids, and her dogs ate, and that in itself was a large part of my education.  She's the first person I ever knew who had raw milk in her refrigerator, and I can definitely say that that had something to do with me trying raw milk last week.  Her dogs ate raw meat every day and one of her daughter's favorite treats was a small cup of raw milk with a drop of vanilla in it.  At this point, I feel like the contents of my refrigerator and my tastes in food are as strange and outlandish as Esther's family's.  At this pivotal moment in my life, I'm going to try to impart some new information to you by describing the contents of my own refrigerator. 

Let me just start by saying that there is a quarter of a gallon of raw milk and a quart of raw yogurt rotting in there.  Since my last post, Seth realized he can't eat raw dairy, either.  If anybody wants it...

The Big 5
Other than that, here are the top 5 things you'll find in my kitchen.  Why 5?  I don't know - it seems like bloggers like to use that number on their lists of very important things...
1. Meat
Every kind, every way.  I don't just mean red meat when I say "meat", by the way.  I'm referring to all animals, including fish, that once had faces.  Pork loin chops, turkey bacon, turkey breasts, lamb steaks, cow steaks, ground buffalo, shrimp, salmon, canned sardines, chicken thighs, pork bacon, lobster tails, crabs...  And I could go on.  Some is in the fridge already cooked so we can make meals quickly, and some is in the fridge waiting to be cooked.  A lot is in the freezer because we like to buy things on sale.  Organic meat is not cheap. 

The merits of properly raised meat are countless.  Among other things, it's a source of protein, essential fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and balanced blood sugar.  Contrary to popular belief, in my opinion, you don't have to stay away from any kind of meat (i.e. "red"), unless it's factory farmed, it's against your religion, or you're sensitive to it.
2. Eggs
My boyfriend's mother is kind enough to stop by H&J Farms in East Longmont on her way to visit us weekly in Boulder.  She picks up enough eggs for our dog and us for the week (about 5 dozen).  Yes, our dog eats eggs. Raw.  Like Rocky.  H&J farms is a rather large plot of land where chickens run amok, eating bugs, grass, GMO-free chicken feed and local corn.  The eggs often contain 2 yolks, which are always golden yellow and difficult to break - not to mention delicious.  These are healthy eggs.  I eat them scrambled, hard-boiled and sometimes raw in my coconut milk ice cream.  And yes, I eat every yolk.

Eggs that come from pasture raised chickens are a really good source of protein, essential fatty acids, choline for your brain and liver, and lutein for your eyes.  They're also a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B6, Folate (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Tryptophan, Iodine and Selenium.  Here's some news for you, the cholesterol in egg yolks doesn't cause heart disease - refined carbohydrates do (to make a vast blanket statement...).  The yolks are where you'll find the bulk of all of those nutrients listed above.  All of the protein in an egg doesn't even live in the white, FYI, for all of you who throw away the yolk because you just want the protein.  Here's an awesome video sequence from Chris Kresser at about how eating cholesterol and saturated fat actually reduces the risk of heart disease.  He provides some fantastic research to back up his claims.

I Have High Cholesterol, and I Don't Care (Part I) from The Healthy Skeptic on Vimeo.

I Have High Cholesterol, and I Don't Care (Part II) from The Healthy Skeptic on Vimeo.

3. Brassica Family Veggies (Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, etc.)
I just noticed that most of the vegetables in my refrigerator are in the Brassica family, which includes  kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga, and turnips.  Broccoli is on that list, too, but it's not in my fridge because of the, er, digestive issues it gives me.  These plants are very nutrient dense, especially kale.  They contain a lot of vitamin C, carotenoids (read: vitamin A), and many anti-cancer nutrients like indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane.  They're also full of fiber.  If you're going to eat one vegetable for the rest of your life, eat kale.  Chop it up, put some olive oil, salt and vinegar on it, massage it down,  and you have yourself some nutrients.  Yes, massage it.  Watch this video on how to make kale taste good.  I put these veggies in stir fries, egg scrambles and salads.
4. Jicama
To my surprise, I just found out that jicama is a legume (gasp!).  I don't eat legumes because of their phytate and lectin content.  Luckily, the phytates are generally in the germ of a plant, which is not the root, which is what a jicama is.  I can not even find jicama listed on any chart of phytate-containing foods, so I will keep it in my fridge for now.  If you've never tasted jicama before, you should try eating it raw, in a salad or lightly cooked in a stir fry.  Its flavor is perfectly described as a cross between a water chestnut and a pear.  Nutritionally, it contains a little vitamin C, but its best quality is its fiber content.  This food is especially high in the fiber known as inulin, which is a pre-biotic.  That means it helps to feed the good probiotics in your gut.  I eat it raw or with my eggs or meat lightly sautéed in some coconut oil.      

Japanese Sweet Potatoes

5. Sweet potatoes
I have a sweet tooth, and that's why sweet potatoes are almost always in my house.  If you bake sweet potatoes for long enough, they caramelize and become a nutrient-rich sweet treat.  I have been a huge fan of garnet yams, but recently I discovered Japanese sweet potatoes (see picture above), and I love them.  They have a smoother texture than garnets and a subtly different flavor that is still very sweet.  They have more purply skin and whiter flesh.  You'll have to try them out.  I usually bake them up wrapped in tin foil a few at a time at 400 degrees for about an hour.  (You can cut them up and put them in tin foil to make the bake time faster.)  Then I put them in the fridge and eat away at them throughout the next few days to a week.  I love them with coconut milk and cinnamon.  I've actually made ice cream out of coconut milk, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and honey before.  Yum.

Japanese sweet potatoes (and sweet potatoes, in general) are rich in beta carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in your body.  They're also full of vitamins E and C and B6.  There are tons of other minerals in them, too - check it out at here.  They provide a good amount of fiber, too - about 6.6g per cup, even after they're baked.  

Don't get me wrong - I don't ONLY eat these 5 things, but they are staples for me.  Other foods you'll find in my kitchen are bananas, kiwis, pears, canned coconut milk, coconut oil, Daiya cheese (which, if you're dairy free and you need a good alternative, you should check out), and tapioca flour (tapioca is a tuber - not a grain FYI).

What About Your Kitchen? 
I encourage you to take stock of your own kitchen.  Are you happy with what is filling up your fridge and cupboards (or NOT filling them up...)?  Could you make any changes in order to include more whole, unadulterated foods?  Could you make your kitchen more accessible and convenient so that you'd WANT to do more food prep/cooking?  Part of my job is to go to people's houses and dissect their kitchens.  If that's something you're interested in having me do for you, please contact me.  If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to use the comment box.  I'd love to know about your kitchens, too! 

Until next time.            

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Little Raw Dairy Experiment
My last post made an impression on my boyfriend, Seth.  He was reminded that raw dairy might be an option for us, and decided he wanted to start drinking milk again, damn it.  I haven't had milk/cheese/butter/yogurt in about 2 years, and he stopped consuming it about a year ago.  Both of us had heinous reactions to pasteurized and homogenized dairy digestively and otherwise, so we fired it from our diets.  We LOVE dairy, though.  Who doesn't?  So since raw dairy (not pasteurized or homogenized) is generally tolerated much better by people, we decided we'd give it a try.        

We called up a raw dairy farm in Erie, CO called Lafferty Farm and they invited us over to check the place out and sign up for a share.  A share?  Well, it's illegal in every state but California to sell raw dairy in grocery stores, so in order to get around that, you have to own a share of the cows you're getting your dairy from.

The Cost
You pay some money to buy into the board and feed for the cows (in this case $30 total) and sign a contract saying that you're part owner of the cows, and then Lafferty Farm (and many other raw dairies) can sell you their milk.  A full share, meaning one gallon of milk per week, is $30/mo.  A half share, which would be enough for my boyfriend, roommate and me, is $15/mo.  Prices around this area vary.  Here's where you can find out where to buy your own.

The Cows
I don't know what this says about me, but apparently cows are really attracted to Seth.  When Keith Lafferty of Lafferty Farm led us out into the pasture where his cows spend their days, he was surprised by the way we were bombarded by them.  Well, Seth was bombarded by them.  We pet them and Nora and Gretchen (yes, these cows have names) nudged us for more pets.  Nora licked my hand with her gigantic cat-like tongue and we were sold.  There were about 6 cows, all of whom looked happy and healthy.  Right now they eat mostly grass and alfalfa hay from a neighboring farm and a mineral pellet and protein pellet in the winter (which is unfortunately made partly of soy).  In the summer they graze on grass on the Lafferty property.  They have babies and take turns resting their udders for a couple of months out of the year.  They are loved.  These cows have been bred to produce a surplus of milk, so even when they are providing milk for their babies, they produce 2-4 gallons of extra milk per day just for you and me. 

The Big Controversy (It's Actually Not That Big...)
But as my dad just said, "Neely, you're supposed to be Paleo girl.  Why would you drink milk?"  While I can come off as a highly opinionated, dogmatic bitch, I can actually be sort of flexible sometimes.  A strict Paleo diet doesn't include milk because during the Paleolithic era there weren't domesticated animals to milk.  However, in Weston A. Price's travels around the world, he found a number of tribal groups for whom raw milk products were staple foods.  And by his measures those tribes were incredibly healthy.  Here's his book if you'd like to read it.  There's a lot of research about milk that pretty much proves it's not fit to consume.  It's associated with skin problems and digestive issues, sinus infections and autism, and worse.  But that research is done on pasteurized and homogenized milk products.  Those milk products and raw milk products may as well have come from two different animals - one is a dead food and one is alive and full of nutrients.  Unless you have a casein (one of milk's proteins) allergy, you should be able to imbibe raw milk.  Here's some more info on raw milk

I've been literally afraid of milk products for the past 2 years because of the havoc they wreaked on my body for so long.  Once I figured out that it was milk products that were causing my problems, I took them out and my symptoms went away.  I don't touch the stuff.  Trying out dairy this week was an evolution not only in my strict thinking about Paleo eating, but an emotional milestone as well.  I'm kind of proud of myself for overcoming that fear.  I was ready for my symptoms to return, but they didn't.  I got to savor that mildly sweet milky flavor that I'd forgotten, and make my first batch of yogurt ever, the flavor and texture of which almost brought me to tears.  Paleolithic people could only have dreamt of such divinity.

My old symptom didn't come back, but others did.  Wheezy breathing, eczema and stomach cramps ensued, despite my positive thinking.  It turns out I can't consume raw milk products.

But you might be able to, and I won't judge you too harshly if you decide to get some raw dairy.  Just don't go do something silly like eat it with Cocoa Puffs cereal...

Does anyone have any experiences to share about switching to raw milk?