Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rhubarb Pepper Salmon

This recipe was elusive but I felt very motivated to figure it out because it's so unique and yummy. One day I was preparing salmon, and I had bought some rhubarb to make kind of a fakey crustless rhubarb "surprise". I looked at the salmon, the rhubarb, and a bottle of "cabfandel" and had a vision. I try to eat salmon a couple times/week but how often can you eat pan fried salmon with a squeeze of lemon? Boring! So anyway, 1st time was great, but not totally balanced. It took me a couple times to get the proportions right mostly because I got overzealous with the wine and rhubarb - too much of a good thing. That's why I like doing this blog because I get a recipe that's repeatable and I spend extra time to balance it because I want to be honest with ME and YOU. It's a HUGE 5 block meal(2 actually) - each person eating a pound of veggies alone! Strictly paleo (if you assume the alcohol boils off from the wine) with zone proportions. Here it is.. .

Rhubarb Pepper Salmon

•12 oz salmon (preferably wild) - cubed
•16 oz broccoli – cut up
•16 oz zucchini - sliced
•2 Cups sliced mushrooms
•1 Cup diced leeks or scallions
•2 Tbl olive oil
•1 Cup Cabernet or red zin
•½ Cup diced rhubarb (fresh in Feb!)
•½ tsp ground pepper
•2 Cups strawberries - desert- but I munch them with the meal.. ;-)

•Prepare all the ingredients. The zucchini goes in a steamer by itself. Get that going.
•Next, get the Cabernet, rhubarb, and pepper simmering in a pan. We’ll let this reduce to about ½ original volume. Enjoy the smell!! Don’t let the rhubarb get mushy.

•At the same time, saute the leeks and mushrooms for a bout 5 minutes then add salmon, mix a little, then add broccoli on top and cover. Cook on high another ~ 10 minutes or until broc and salmon is done. Mix occasionally.
•Put rhubarb reduction over salmon/broc. Add zucchini on the side, throw on some fresh ground pepper - chow! Munch the berries with dinner or keep them for desert (or snag some of that left-over wine depending on how strict you are feeling!)
... if you're a 2X or 3X fat type, like me, just throw in a handful of nuts or snack on them while you're cooking (that's what I do).
Oh - one more thing.... broccoli has a lot of protein (how? - I'll never know), almost 7 gm per 8 oz. I DON'T care and I DON'T count it! Broccoli does NOT have all the essential amino acids (essential means you cannot produce them) so you're counting on some other food with the other amino acids to make up the difference. (Kind of like having lots of lumber but being short on nails and hoping you find some along the way somewhere) That's too complicated and too chancy for me. I'll err on the too much protein side - thank you very much.
Steve "Paleo"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sole w/Apples 'n Bacon

OK - I have to give credit to Neanderthin for pointing out that you can actually fry apples in bacon fat and not feel guilty about it. First time I did it I was embarrassed - I mean WHO eats like this? I don't do it often, but it's a real treat once in awhile and I love the fact that you can eat this way and still be in control of your cholesterol - who would have known?

This recipe "works" because sole is quite low fat and pig is not. Since the goal is a balanced meal - 30% Protein, 30 % Fat, 40% Carb - the bacon serves to offset the low fat sole. Any other white fish would probably do - Rockfish, Pacific Snapper, even Halibut. The apple balances out the carbs so you don't have to eat a pound of broccoli - daunting.

•6 oz Wild Caught Dover Sole (I found it at Nob Hill)
•4 oz Sliced Leeks
•4 oz Sliced Mushrooms (shitake if you can)
•5 oz Sliced Apple (I used Gala)
•2 Slices uncured bacon
•5 oz Broccoli
•Celery Salt & Lemon - salt is not paleo but i cheat a little..

•Begin to steam the broccoli by itself.
•Fry the bacon and remove from pan. Discard about 1/3 the fat and divide remaining fat into separate pans.
•Combine leeks and mushrooms and saute in bacon fat. Add apples after several minutes (don’t overcook). Chop up the bacon and throw it into this pan near the end.
•Cook sole in other pan. Add celery salt. Squeeze lemon juice over fish and cover to help with cooking.
....combine and serve.

For the Zoners, this is a balanced 5 block meal. Scale it up or down for more people or less blocks. The fat could be a little off but who cares? You don't get fat eating fat. You get fat eating carbohydrates. I hope you like it.

Next Week - Rhubarb Pepper Salmon - you will die for this one. Round two is happening tonight. Had to make adjustments to get the right Pro-Fat-Carb balance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paleo-Zone - An Experiment on yours truly

"There are no bread trees or pasta bushes." T.S. Wiley in Lights Out

I came across the Paleo concept when i first got into Crossfit It's all right here, pretty simple. Paleo means to eat only foods a caveman would have access to. So, no beans,rice,wheat (bread/cereal), corn,potatoes,dairy, sugar, alcohol, or "processed" foods. For 4 weeks I ate only meat, fruit, vegetables, raw nuts, and eggs. I cheated a little, beer, coffee (w/milk), protein bars and drinks for convenience. My logic was - this can't be a "diet", it needs to be a lifestyle - something permanent. I would not be infinitely strict (although, with time if find myself getting stricter). Supposedly, this was a cholesterol lowering diet. My father and grandfather both suffered from heart disease, both had open heart surgery. Was I destined? I had my blood checked after 4 weeks. Total Cholesterol/HDL was the lowest it had ever been in 6 yrs of testing. Triglycerides were actually UNDETECTABLE - 1st time in ~ 10 yrs. WTF? I was actually eating eggs, red meat, apple slices fried in bacon fat! Was it so simple? Why didn't my doctor tell me? This needed further investigation. I read all i could - Neanderthin, Enter The Zone, Protein Power, Good Calories Bad Calories, Lights Out and talked to Crossfit NSC trainers - Jason "J-Dogg" Highbarger, Dan Grant, Robin Boose - to learn of their experiences. This was too logical. I had to do an experiment on yours truly.
The Experiment: For 12 weeks i would eat Paleo and exactly control the proportions in order to get 1 gm protein per lb of lean body mass and insure 30-30-40 - % calories from protein, fat, and carbohydrates respectively. AND i would not take my Lipitor!

I made a spreadsheet and looked everything up on If my ratios were not within 3% of target, i adjusted proportions. I did not follow zone blocks because i thought that was too dumbed down - too many approximations/assumptions. My experiment would be "exact".

The results: After 12 weeks of Paleo-Zone and no Lipitor, my Total Cholesterol / HDL was 239/82 = 2.9 About 6% lower than it had been, on average, for 4 years while on Lipitor and 35% lower than my base line before Lipitor while on a "healthy" diet. My HDL, @ 82 mg/dl, was 27% higher than it had been, on average, over the previous 6 yrs - and i've always exercised a lot and "watched" my diet. HDL is the "good" cholesterol. Most shocking, my triglycerides were "undetectable" on 3 separate measurements. My body fat decreased from 13% to 7%. These are the quantifiable differences. Subjectively, i just plain felt GOOD. To be fair, it wasn't a perfect experiment. I started crossfit just before the Paleo Zone diet - most likely a positive influence, but i've always been very active. I adjusted the fat content of my diet mid-stream because I was losing weight too fast and my lean body mass started to suffer. Lastly, because my weight was not held at a constant, I cannot isolate the effects of bodyfat vs diet. However, in total, the results were astounding to me and at the last 6 week checkpoint, I was losing body fat (1.6 lbs) while gaining muscle (2.5 lbs). This brings me to the purpose of this Blog. Paleo foods are plentiful, but not necessarily exciting. There is naturally less variety compared to a standard Western diet. On the bright side, this makes shopping REALLY easy - literally, you avoid 90% of the supermarket. To keep it interesting though, you need to be creative. In addition, you need to pay attention to the "math" if you want to eat in zone proportions. I don't know HOW important the zone proportions are but I believe it's a good starting point. I spent a lot of time balancing my meals and I continuously spend time making them interesting. So, the goal of this blog is to share with you recipes for zone balanced paleo meals. For you Zoners, my meals are about 5 blocks. Scale appropriately. (for non-Zoners, read Barry Sears book Enter the Zone - it's worthwhile reading). I'm a little lazy - I wash all my cloths together, lights darks, cotton, wool. I cook the same way. So these meals will be "easy". Not every meal is an adventure - you'll see some basic stuff but that's just so you can get an appreciation for proportions and see what's been working for me. I've always been comfortable with cooking - I was a cafe cook in the summers while in college, and have cooked for myself my whole life, and I like to experiment with foods - ask my kids. They'll tell you about "Steve's Surprise". I hope you're surprised how tasty Paleo cooking can be..
Feedback - don't let me sit here all by myself ;-) If you follow this blog, try the meals, and post your comments! My goal is to offer a new recipe once/week minimum with a simple prep description and pictures.
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