Nowadays

In today’s world, convenience foods are everywhere and cooking from scratch has become quite rare. Who has the time to prepare home-cooked meals on a daily basis? We are always on the go, and weekends can be just as busy as the rest of the week. What we don’t realize, though, is that when we reach for convenience foods and on-the-go meal options, we do not fuel ourselves with real food – with nutrient-dense food. We fuel ourselves with processed foods that are filled with toxic chemicals, labeled or not labeled. Only home-cooked meals made with whole foods can give us the right nutrients required for proper metabolic function. Home-cooked meals are the meals that sustain health and wellness.

What cooking at home can lead to

In a recent Bulletproof podcast, “What the heck should I cook, Dr. Hyman?”, Dr. Mark Hyman states, “If people just got off the crap and started eating real food, and literally unplugged from the industrial food system, their health would dramatically improve.” He adds, “We would reverse climate change. We would end social injustice and poverty. We’d have money enough for free education, and free healthcare for everybody, and can support the neediest among us with no effort, and have lots of money left over to do cool stuff and create new science, and solve all the world’s problems just by cooking at home.” These are strong statements and I encourage you to listen to this podcast which highlights so many truths we have become oblivious to.

What to use in simple home-cooked meals

Home-cooked meals imply cooking with whole foods, which means using nutrient-dense ingredients that have not been tampered with. To find out what to buy to prepare home-cooked meals, you can check several of my previous blog posts: What to Buy Organic, Which Fish are Okay to Buy, How to Source Beef, Why Eating the Egg Yolk is Perfectly Fine. In What are Ketones? I list several healthy fat options that can be consumed as snacks, as well as which oils to use for cooking. My article on The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid sums up this list of nutrient-dense foods to use in home-cooked meals.

Strategies

You don’t have to cook every single day in order to obtain an optimal level of health and wellness. Most of us have busy schedules and aren’t able to set that time aside each day. Instead, you can implement a few different strategies into your weekly routine in order to obtain the same goal. One strategy you can implement is to set some time aside on the weekend to prep several dishes for the week. You can store these in the fridge or freezer, as required. Also, something that I was doing a lot when my children were growing up, is to cook a meal big enough to cover at least two dinners. Like that, when there are after school activities to attend, dinner doesn’t have to be an end-of-the-day ordeal.

In summary

It may seem impossible at first to change the way we have approached cooking in our day-to-day life. But if we take it one step at a time, we can enjoy home-cooked meals every day. As Dr. Hyman highlights, not only are home-cooked meals made with whole foods better for our health, but they are also better for a host of other issues we are dealing with in today’s world. Home-cooked meals sustain health and wellness in so many ways!

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The importance of herbs and spices

Herbs and spices can not only bring up any dish with wonderful aromas and colors, but they contain a host of health benefits. That is the very reason why they have been used for centuries in food and medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is a prime example of how herbs and spices can be used in a very powerful way to help alleviate and cure various ailments. The spice trade highlights what important merchandise spices were between continents in the past centuries. I am not going to list the array of health benefits you get from consuming herbs and spices as they are so numerous beyond the primary fact that most have strong antioxidant properties – suffice to say that herbs and spices are not to be bypassed. 

Basic herbs and spices

Here’s a short list (as mentioned in the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation) of basic herbs and spices that can easily be used in any meal you prepare:

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin seeds
  • Dill
  • Ginger
  • Mint
  • Mustard seeds
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Turmeric

I would like to add to this list horseradish powder, leek powder, and sea vegetable powder which I like to sprinkle on most of my meals. When buying herbs and spices, you want to make sure they are well-sourced, that is, organic (and mold-free). Growing your own herbs is a plus and helps to guarantee that your herbs and spices won’t be tampered with!

Salt

You want to avoid the conventionally processed table salt as it has fillers, anticaking agents, and very few nutrients. One more good reason to give up processed foods as this traditional salt abounds in them. Sea salt is what to pick. I like to use Celtic sea salt. Himalayan sea salt is another great option.

A word about garlic

Garlic, an allium, was a favorite of hunter-gatherers. American Indian tribes used wild alliums “to treat infected wounds, restore appetites, boost energy, repel scorpions, soothe bee stings, relieve colic and croup, lower fevers, and as a general tonic for colds, sore throat, and earaches,” as explained by Jo Robinson in Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. Some of garlic’s benefits can be destroyed by heat, so if you are going to cook with garlic, Robinson explains that after chopping or slicing the garlic, you want to let it sit for ten minutes before incorporating it to your recipe. That way, a specific chemical reaction needed to obtain garlic’s healing attributes has the time to occur before exposing the garlic to heat. Nice tip!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

References

Asprey, Dave. The Bulletproof Diet : Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, and Upgrade Your Life. New York, Rodale Books, 2014, p. 210

Robinson, Jo, and Andie Styner. Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York Little, Brown, 2013, pp. 47–8, 51.

Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 233–34.

The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 121-22.

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Overview

In my blog post on how to source beef, I briefly mentioned the Primal Blueprint food pyramid. The Primal Blueprint food pyramid outlines which types of foods someone should consider eating when wanting to eat according to the ancestral template. The bulk of any meal is vegetables. In smaller quantities then comes meat, fish, fowl, and eggs. The middle of the pyramid highlights the importance of consuming healthy fats, followed by certain foods you can eat in small amounts. Lastly, herbs, spices, extracts, and supplements top the pyramid of primal-approved foods.

Vegetables

Vegetables should be diverse and of many different colors. You want to “eat the rainbow,” as they say. It is better to buy locally grown fresh produce and organic. To know exactly how to pick vegetables and fruits, please see my blog post on what to buy organic. Also, an awesome book to read on how to select and prepare vegetables and fruits is Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health, by Jo Robinson.

Meat, fish, fowl, and eggs

Protein intake comes in second, as opposed to what many assume regarding the paleo/primal diet. Good-quality meat and fish is essential. It’s all about quality, not quantity. Here again, local (and pasture-raised) is the best pick, then buying organic is the next best choice. You can learn more about how to source beef, fish, and eggs by checking out my previous articles on these topics.

Healthy fats

Consuming healthy fats and only healthy fats is non-negotiable. This includes the fats used in cooking which should be solid at room temperature (coconut oil, butter, ghee, animal fats), except for avocado oil. Extra-virgin olive oil would be used more for drizzling over food and for dressings. Healthy fats also include foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, coconut products, etc. My blog post What are ketones? outlines the benefits we get out of consuming healthy fats.

Moderation foods

The foods to eat in moderation are most fruits because they can bring up your blood sugar quite a bit (except for certain berries) and “nutritious carbs” like sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, and wild rice. High-fat dairy (raw, fermented, and unpasteurized) is also okay in small quantities provided it is well-sourced (from pasture-raised and grass-fed/grass-finished animals). That means none of the conventional dairy products we find in supermarkets. Dark chocolate is an okay treat too, but it has to be 75% or above, cacao content-wise.

Herbs, spices, extracts, and supplements

Herbs and spices are a great addition to any dish and they offer a host of benefits. They say it’s like having a small medicine cabinet in your kitchen. Of course, organic and mold-free is highly recommended for these. Certain supplements are usually fine to add too as even the best quality foods we can find nowadays offer fewer nutrients compared to centuries ago (or simply decades ago). To find out which supplements might be beneficial to you, you must consult a licensed professional that can help you figure this out after carefully studying your lab work results. 

In summary

This sums up the types of primal-approved foods you want to focus on when eating according to the Primal Blueprint template. Keep in mind that even these primal-approved foods may not work well for everyone. It is up to you to experiment and see how your body responds to each food you consume. To be more attuned to your body and how foods make you feel on a daily basis is part of becoming more knowledgeable about your health and overall wellness.

Reference
Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 101-122. 


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Why everyday movement is a must

We live in a world that is far from the hunter-gatherer life our bodies are designed to experience. That is why everyday movement is non-negotiable if we want to adjust our bodies to the mostly sedentary life that we live. In Move Your DNA, biomechanist Katy Bowman states, “Your body is never ‘out of shape’; it is always in a shape created by how you have moved up to this very moment. It is constantly responding and shifting to a continuous stream of input provided by your external and internal environments, even if that input consists only of sitting still, for hours on end.” Enough movement throughout the day is necessary for proper blood flow to be delivered to the different muscles used, which means more oxygen and nutrients, along with “waste removal.” Enough movement throughout the day (along with other variables) is necessary to ensure proper cellular health.

What everyday movement means

When we have to sit for long periods of time, such as when working at a computer, every 30 minutes or so, we want to get up, stretch, and walk a little bit. The same goes if we are at a standing workstation. We want to incorporate movement throughout the day to nourish our cells. A few squats or other simple exercises can be nice little breaks throughout the day. That way, going to the gym after work can be optional. As a matter of fact, if you think that going to the gym for one hour can make up for a long day of sitting for hours, that is not the case. We want to shape our daily life so that it is as similar as possible to how it was during hunter-gatherer times. And when it comes to movement, it has to be varied motion throughout the day. Taking short walks in the morning, at lunch, or after dinner, whenever you have a few minutes can be a great addition to your daily movement regimen. Whatever fits your schedule best and only implement one change at a time to ensure adherence to it.

My daily stretches

Each day, I make sure I do a certain amount of stretches. I start with the upper cat back in the morning and then, throughout the day, I do various stretches whenever I have a minute: the upper cervical rotation self-mobilization, chin tucks, psoas stretch, piriformis stretch, quad stretch, calf stretch, standing calf raises, tricep dips, pec stretch, and a couple of shoulder exercises. I also add the good morning exercise (a Foundation training exercise). At lunch, I usually do several eye drills to fully work the six eye muscles, followed by a couple of Tai Chi exercises for relaxation. Once home, I like to do the side-bridge and regular plank for the core, and on certain days, some squats, kettlebell swings, and balance exercises. At the end of each day, I stretch the hamstrings and stay in the half-lotus position for a bit. Lastly, I do the cat/cow yoga pose for the lower back. Some days I skip some of the stretches, but this is my usual routine for now. I truly believe discipline allows us to stay grounded whatever we have to face each day. And again, everyday movement is non-negotiable!

References

Katy Ann Bowman. Move Your DNA : Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. Carlsborg, Wa, Propriometrics Press, 2014, pp. 21, 25, 36–37.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, p. 125.

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The egg yolk and cholesterol

When I was little, I didn’t like the texture of the hard-boiled egg yolks, so I only ate the egg white. As I got older I believed that egg yolk consumption should be limited due to its cholesterol content. It turns out, as neurologist David Perlmutter states in Grain Brain, “Eating high-cholesterol foods has no impact on our actual cholesterol levels, and the alleged correlation between higher cholesterol and higher cardiac risk is an absolute fallacy.” Perlmutter adds that “dietary cholesterol actually reduces the body’s production of cholesterol, and more than 80 percent of the cholesterol in your blood that is measured on your cholesterol test is actually produced in your own liver.” Now knowing this, I eat eggs every day!

Egg yolk contains:

  • Omega-3 fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Vitamins A, E, K2, and B complex
  • Choline
  • Healthy cholesterol
  • A complete amino acid profile
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents

In order to get the full array of nutrients, animals have to eat what they are meant to eat. When it comes to chickens, they should be eating things such as bugs, lizards, worms, and grass. So if you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens, the yolk is going to have a deep-yellow/slight orange color. This color is a sign of a nutrient-rich egg. If you buy eggs of mostly grain-fed chickens, the yolk is going to have a pale-yellow color. 

The best options

It is best to avoid eggs from CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) chickens, just like CAFO meat. Organic eggs are the next best option if you can’t find eggs from pasture-raised chickens, but most organic eggs are from chickens that have been fed grains too. Also, eggs found in a store can be four to five weeks old. I like to buy eggs at local farmers’ markets, and I am also happy to find Pete and Gerry’s organic eggs at a nearby store.

We can prepare eggs in many different ways and even have them as a snack. As we now know that the yolk is perfectly fine to eat and that it brings us important nutrients, there is no reason to avoid such affordable healthy food.

References

Perlmutter, David, and Kristin Loberg. Grain Brain : The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. New York, Ny, Little, Brown And Co, 2013, pp. 72, 228-29.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, p. 109.


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