Going Primal Day 10: The Official 2011 Primal Blueprint 30-Day Challenge

I didn’t write yesterday. It was Labor Day. We watched movies and went to the dog park and tried not to do anything exciting. It was nice to do nothing for a day. We still ate Primal, don’t worry, but it wasn’t much to write about. Omelettes and sweet potato hashbrowns, snack of nuts and fruit and veggie sticks, bunless burgers with guac and onions and grilled veggies for dinner.

And now its Tuesday, which means back to real life.


That’s how I feel about that.

Since I’ve definitely got a case of the Mondays even though its actually Tuesday, and I don’t want to bore you with the mundanities that are today, I will instead introduce….


Wahoooooo!! Marksdailyapple.com is sponsoring 30 days of Primal challenges and contests starting September 12 to help you begin, maintain, or even just  try out Primal Blueprint principles. You can dive right in and try 30 days of Primal-only eating  (and exercising and playing and resting), or maybe just be inspired by a single day’s challenge and try to incorporate it into your month. I give you permission to just put your feet in the water.

If you have been thinking about trying out Primal Blueprint, even a little bit, this would be a great month to start since you will not only have Mark’s help and support, but the encouragement of hundreds of others who are participating in the challenge as well.

Think about it, think, think about it. (Flight of the Conchords, anyone?!) If you decide to try, let me know and we’ll do this together!


The Primal Menu:

Breakfast: We only had two eggs (we go through eggs like nobody’s business, for real), so John Mark had eggs and I had leftover sweet potato hashbrowns

Lunch: Roast, veggie sticks, nectarine


Going Primal Day #8: Weekly Wrap-Up

We made it! We have officially been going Primal for a full week. I went the entire week without any intentional cheating (John Mark a little less so), and I’m pretty proud of us. Here are some thoughts about the week:

1. I never went hungry, and I never really felt deprived. Of course there were temptations (namely chocolate and french fries), but once I pushed through the momentary craving, I forgot all about whatever that non-Primal food was that had sounded so good. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I wasn’t, which keeps you pretty satisfied. Simple as that.

2. Admittedly, for the first few days neither John Mark or I felt well. But by Thursday, we both started feeling much better. I can tell a distinct difference in my energy level, especially in the evenings. Around 8pm, when I normally would feel exhausted from a full work day, I was still mentally and physically energized. On that note, I have felt more alert and mentally engaged; since Thursday I haven’t felt foggy-headed (which makes me think of “cotton headed ninny muggins”) or detached from my surroundings.

3. I haven’t felt nauseous all week, which is practically a miracle. I can’t remember the last time I went an ENTIRE week without having some form of a stomach ache. I have had very minor headaches in the morning, which I think have to do with the fact that I just don’t sleep well since the headaches are usually gone after I take a shower or eat breakfast. Not having major headaches is also miraculous.

4. I’m not sure how to say this- but both John Mark and I agree that our bodies feel “tighter” somehow. Not tight as in stomach cramps or sore muscles, but tight as in less jiggly, and in places I never really noticed jiggled. I can also see a difference in my abs and legs, less squish and more muscle.

5. On the down side, my kitchen is always a disaster. The Primal lifestyle is not one of convenience, so if you are a busy bee or have a large family, really consider what is high on your priority list and what is not. Eating food that is not only good for you but also kind to the palette, as well as enjoying the process of cooking and spending time with my husband, are high on my priority lists, and I have had to accept that a clean kitchen will just have move down a place or two.

Next week’s goal: Add in Primal Fitness to the Primal meal plans. The Primal/Paleo lifestyle is not just about food, who knew? So stay tuned- I have some things up my sleeves for the upcoming week!


The Primal Menu:

Last’s Nights Dinner: Grilled Tuna (thanks mom and dad for the leftover fish!), grilled veggies, sweet potato fries

Breakfast: Two hard-boiled eggs (I finally figured it out!)

Snack: Apple

Lunch: I don’t want to talk about it. We tried to eat out again because we went to church about 20 minutes away from home, and while what we ordered seemed Primal, I’m pretty sure all the meat was pre-packaged or came from a can. Really, I’m not convinced it was actually food. I promise, this lunch would offend anyone with even a smidgen of dignity about what the put in their bodies.

Dinner: Everyday Paleo’s Chili Colorado


Going Primal Day 7: Tips for Primal Dining Out

We decided to go out to eat with Jared and Julie last night. Frankly, I didn’t want to cook. More accurately, I didn’t want to wash the 27 dishes that I would inevitably dirty up in the  course of making dinner. Let’s just say that this new Primal eating and my minor compulsive need to have a clean kitchen are waging war. I let dishes win.

Or at least I let the dishes think they won.

We decided to go the Belltown Pub for dinner, and even though it is called a “pub”, the food was more fancy schmancy than you would expect. And really, I think I did pretty darn well. The following are some ideas that I used to make a more Primal-friendly dining experience. Even if you aren’t eating Primal or Paleo but are trying to “watch what you eat”, these ideas may be helpful.

1. Make sure the people you are going out with understand your diet limitations. Jared and Julie know about our Primal eating, and were more than willing to go to a place that could better accommodate our needs (like a bar and grill that would have salads or vegetables instead of an Italian restaurant that would serve mostly pasta). They also knew beforehand that we might have to do some creative ordering to make the menu bend to our Primal will.

2. Choose a restaurant ahead of time so that you can look at the menu before you go. Julie suggested the Belltown Pub, which is near their house and a non-chain restaurant. I was able to download their menu online and identify possible options that we could eat, as well as identify temptations (like french fries!) that could raise their dirty little heads during the meal.

3. Don’t be afraid to be “that” customer. You know, the customer who takes a full 5 minutes to order because they are adding and subtracting so much from the dish that its unrecognizable from whats advertised on the menu? Yeah, just get over feeling like a big, fat inconvenience  and own it. You’re the customer, and the customer is always right, right? Its okay to be picky and only eat the things you want.

I ordered a burger that came with tomato, onion, avocado, lettuce, cheese, and barbeque sauce. I asked for no cheese and substituted red pepper aioli (which is essentially flavored mayo and was being served as a dip for an appetizer) instead of barbeque sauce, on the side. I’m sure the aioli wasn’t perfectly Primal, but if I have a choice between a condiment with preservatives (aioli) or a condiment with preservatives and sugar (barbeque sauce), I’ll stick with the former. Plus, the aioli came out on the bun instead of on the side (of course I didn’t eat the bun, so I should have ordered the burger bunless), and after scraping what I could onto my burger patty, I probably got less than a teaspoon of aioli in the end.

My meal came with french fries, so I substituted veggies. When the plate came out, there were french fries AND veggies 9which were unfortunately drenched in an oil of unidentifiable origin). It was tempting, but I promptly gave all of my fries to Jared and Julie, who were more than happy to take them off of my hands. Crisis averted. And honestly, after the fries were off of my plate, I wasn’t very tempted to eat them. Did they look good? Sure. Overpoweringly so? Not at all.

4. Remember, you are in charge, not the food. I’ve heard from a lot of people “There’s no way I could give up [insert non-Primal food here]. I just can’t resist.” And while I totally get that (I’m fairly certain I did, and maybe still do, have a physical addiction to sugar, and it’s REALLY hard not to satisfy post-meal brownie cravings), you don’t give yourself enough credit if you think aren’t strong enough to resist a food or drink you know is bad for you.  Find another food on the menu that you enjoy (in my case, it was zucchini and red peppers instead of french fries), and dwell on the enjoyment of those foods instead. You are stronger than you think.

At the end of the night, I felt really good, and surprisingly energized. It was the first time in a very long time that I could walk away from eating out and not have a heavy stomach, nausea, or a debilitating headache.

And that, for me, is much better than french fries.


The Primal Menu:

Yesterday’s Lunch: Two hardboiled eggs, sweet potato hashbrowns, 2 patties of breakfast sausage

Yesterday’s Dinner: Bunless burger with avocado, tomato, onion, and red pepper aioli, side of zucchini, squash, and red peppers

Brunch/Lunch: Primal Pancakes with a little bit of almond butter, coffee with almond milk

Going Primal Day 6: Spaghettiless Spaghetti and Eating Out

Happy Friday!

Is anyone else glad its Friday? I am. Its been a long time since I’ve had to get up early and work five days a week, and I’m feeling it. Welcome to adulthood, I know.

So, before I jump into last night’s dinner, I have a report. I asked my Thai friend if my curry recipe was truly authentic, and she said it was! Congrats, people, we can make verifiably authentic Thai food.

Now, on to last night’s dinner: Spaghetti-less Spaghetti! Oxymoron it is not. When needing a pasta fix, try spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti or angel hair pasta. It can be cooked in the microwave or, if anyone else is like me and thinks the microwave is just a little too freaky (It heats things without getting hot! Isn’t that just a little suspicious?), you can bake it in the oven. The insides of the gourd scrape out to look just like spaghetti. You won’t have the exact firm but slippery texture of perfectly al dente pasta, but once the squash is covered in sauce, it is a very reasonable substitute and honestly, I couldn’t taste a huge difference. And it looks like this, which is pretty fun, and its definitely a win when your food is delicious and fun to play with:

Tonight, I thought it would be fun to try eating out. We really enjoy eating out, especially with friends at mellow pubs where you can sit and talk and relish your food and drinks. Unfortunately, mellow pubs usually have pub food: burgers slathered with cheese and condiments, french fries (or tater tots at our favorite pub), fried fish and chips. I don’t know that I am up to that temptation. Thinking of what other places we could go to, I thought about trying Mexican- I could get fajitas without cheese and tortillas- but Mexican restaurants always have those crunchy, salty, fried corn chips that I could devour by the fistful as a meal all on their own. I also heard that Red Robin will wrap their burgers in lettuce instead of a bun, which would be perfect, except that they have bottomless french fries instead of bread or chips. Corn chips and french fries?!?! I’m definitely not up for those temptations.

Maybe we’ll just eat in tonight…


The Primal Menu:

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce (tomato paste, diced tomatoes, ground beef, peppers, onions, red wine…. delish.)

Breakfast: Fruit and Nut bars (seriously, they don’t get old)

Snack: Carrot sticks and Strawberries

Lunch…. Still not sure…


Going Primal Day 5: How Thai food proved me right.

I made Thai red curry last night.

Amazing, search and rescue every vegetable in the bottom, drink the sauce the next day Thai red curry.

It sounds like it would be pretty difficult, right? With red hair and fair skin, I may be the farthest thing from Thai possible, and the curry I used to get at the Magic Noodle in Joplin always seemed so exotic I never thought I could make something that even resembled that delicious dish.

But, I am here to tell you, authentic, lick-the-bowl Thai curry is fabulously easy… one of the quickest, easiest meals I’ve made in a very long time, in fact. I used Everyday Paleo’s recipe, but for those of you who probably won’t go check it out, I’ll give the recipe in 100 words or less:

1 can of coconut milk, unshaken, 1-1.5 Tbs of red curry paste (you can find it at the grocery for about $5, and it will last for a very long time), your favorite fresh or frozen stir fry veggies, 1 lb chicken/beef/pork.

Heat a wok or large skillet. When the wok is hot, add the cream off of the top of the coconut milk. It will smoke some, but heat and stir it for 3 minutes.

Add curry paste, stir until combined.

Add meat, heat until mostly cooked.

Add vegetables and remaining coconut milk until everything is heated.

And this is what you get:

(This photo is from Everyday Paleo, but ours looked pretty much the same, but in black bowls.)

Seriously, my earlier assertion that food companies make us believe that delicious, authentic food only comes pre-made in a box or bag is complete and absolute boloney. Or bologna. Depending on how fancy you feel.

Next trip to the grocery, grab some curry paste and coconut milk, and make this curry. You’ll feel exotic and liberated all at the same time.

[Minor endnote: I really really REALLY wanted brownies last night. But I didn’t give in. You’d be proud.]


The Primal Menu

Dinner: Thai curry with chicken, red peppers, green peppers, broccoli, and carrots

Breakfast: Another failed attempt at proper hard boiled eggs, so I had a fruit and nut bar

Lunch: Leftover curry, apple with almond butter

Going Primal Day 4: The Truth

The truth is…. I don’t have much to write to you.

The truth is…. my first attempt at making sweet potato fries kind of flopped. Bad choice of words– the sweet potato fries weren’t floppy, but they didn’t turn out crispy like the recipe said they would. I’m not done experimenting, but you don’t want to read about exceedingly average sweet potato fries.

The truth is…. I’m not very good at hard boiling eggs, so my breakfast was lumpy and undercooked and pretty disgusting. So I had a peach instead.

The truth is…. I took tuna salad again for lunch. Yummy, but not so exciting for you.

The REAL truth is…. I don’t have much to write to you because I’m feeling icky and grumpy. No, I don’t feel Primal-amazing yet. Neither does John Mark. I have been told by three of my family members that this is to be expected, our bodies have to adjust how they function without grains and we are going to feel bad for a little while. I think of it like taking a new medicine- it usually takes a week or so for your body to get used to having a new chemical in your stystem.

Add to this the fact that it is summer in Seattle, and before you get upset with me for complaining about our sweltering 80 degree daily highs, understand that most Seattlites don’t have air conditioning. Its is fine for 10 months out of the year, but it makes July and August nights pretty uncomfortable. We both wake up groggy and sore, and I feel sub-human until I take and shower and eat breakfast.

Lack of sleep + adjusting body = grumpy and uninspired Lesley.

Tune in tomorrow, I promise I’ll have something good.


The Primal Menu:

Last Night’s Dinner: Grilled Salmon and red peppers, zucchini, and onions; baked sweet potatoes

Breakfast: Coffee and a peach

Snack: Fruit and Nut bar

Lunch: Tuna Salad, green pepper and carrot sticks

Going Primal Day 3: Grok, meet Julia Child

[Note: Grok is basically the caveman mascot of the Primal Blueprint Lifestyle. On Primal/Paleo websites and materials, its not uncommon to see strange things like “Get your Grok on!” or my new favorite blog is called “A Family Grokumentary”. It’s a nerdy little subcultural, I know.]

One thing that can sabotage any well-meaning “healthy” diet is condiments. We just don’t think about them. Ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, mayo… there is a whole lot more to our favorite condiments than we realize as we are slathering our sandwiches and fries and salads with them. Processed, mass-produced condiments have hidden sugars, hydrogenated oils, and preservatives that make them cheap to produce and last forever. (Seriously, isn’t anyone else suspicious about mayo (which is supposed to be oil and eggs) lasting 9 months in your refrigerator?) I guess I realized all of this before going Primal, but its only now that I have the motivation to do something about it. At this point, its either find a way to make my own, or go without.

And I really like condiments.

If I have learned anything about cooking in the past year, its that things that I thought were so difficult and out of my reach (like making a cake from scratch or literally whipping up my own whipped cream or making real yeast bread that doesn’t taste like dirt) are not actually that all complicated. I think some high-ups in the food business want to make us think we are incapable in the kitchen so we will buy their products… and their preservatives, sugar, and hydrogenated oils.

Well, I don’t buy that (ha… get it? Buy that?). I can have delicious food without having to buy it pre-made in the store.

And this is the point in the narrative where Lesley makes her own mayonnaise.

I really wanted to take tuna salad for lunch today. It just sounded good, it would be easy to make ahead of time, and one of the many fun things about this diet is that mayo is perfectly acceptable…. when its made from scratch. Sigh.

Refusing to beaten by condiments, I remembered that Julia Child mentioned making mayonnaise in the movie “Julie and Julia”, and if you recall, last year I had a really bad day and splurged the entirety of my Christmas money on The Art of French Cooking.

Oh the joy that filled my soul at being able to crack open my beautiful Julia Child cookbook AND still eat Primal AND make my own mayonnaise. As I was beating eggs and oil, I came up with a wonderful dialogue between Grok and Julia Child about how proud they were of me, how they were going to team up to take the world by storm, and how nice Grok would look in pearls.

Yeah, I’m weird like that. But, in the end, the mayo was not at ALL difficult to make and tasted delicious.

Watch out, Helmann’s, who knows what Grok, Julia, and I will come up with next!


The Primal Menu:

Last Night’s Dinner:  Steak and Asparagus, strawberries and bananas

Breakfast: These Primal pancakes- while they didn’t exactly taste like pancakes, but they did taste like did taste like spiced banana deliciousness. Plus it was a nice break from eggs.

Snack: Coffee with almond milk, fruit and nut bar

Lunch: Tuna with homemade mayo and Mom’s homemade pickles, green pepper and carrot sticks, avocado