Eating the Same Paleo Lunch Every Day…With Constant Variation?

As you know I am not a Paleo fanatic, but I am happy when something I like anyway just happens to be Paleo and tasty at the same time.  I also know that if you read books by Tim Ferriss, Rich Roll, and Loren Cordain, they advocate eating some of the same things every day as a strategy for good nutrition. 

I’ve had great experience eating lunch based on the same basic recipe almost every day, but with local, seasonally differing ingredients that introduce constant variation every week.  I call it “dog food.”  I never measure the ingredients – I just throw a bunch of stuff in the pot and it comes out great, but a little different, every time.  The basic formula is:

  • Some type of leafy greens (chard, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, bok choy…)
  • Some type of oniony thing (onions, shallots, leeks…)
  • A few mushrooms (optional – any type)
  • Something chunky other than potatoes (turnips, rutabagas, carrots, celery root, kohlrabi…)
  • A ground/shredded protein (ground turkey, chicken, etc)
  • Coconut oil or butter
  • Water, sea salt, and spices
  • Use lentils or quinoa to thicken, if desired

One of the best ways to embrace this constant variation is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  I belong to the Purple Dragon CSA in New Jersey, and this means I get a big box of local, seasonal produce every two weeks.  There are usually a bunch of things that only Dad will eat – mutant leafy greens, strange vegetables such as celery root and rutabagas, and this time of year tons of oniony, cabbagy winter vegetables that it’s tough to eat in quantity.  The other key to this approach is to be fortunate enough to live near Trader Joes!  TJ’s frozen section is a gold mine of organic produce, and the selection changes all the time.

So Dad becomes the human composter.  For example, today’s batch consisted of:

  • 3 huge bunches of chard
  • 2 onions
  • A big, ugly, hairy mystery thing that turned out to be celery root
  • A leftover handful of raw cranberries from Thanksgiving
  • Organic ground turkey and chicken
  • Sea salt (Trader Joe’s is from NorCal, I also like Celtic and La Baleine)
  • Organic raw coconut oil from TJ’s (maybe 3 Tbsp?  I just wing it).
  • A little garlic
  • A few shakes of Cayenne pepper and Turmeric
  • Some water or chicken broth

I threw it in the big pot and let it all cook for 30 minutes.  It came out great and will last for 3-4 days.  It’s Paleo (some may debate the lentils and quinoa) packed with protein and leafy greens, and tastes fabulous.

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Perspectives on The Four Hour Body and The Paleo Diet for Athletes

Over the holidays I read The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain.  Here’s some impressions, some common themes, and some inconsistencies.  I’ve been slowly trying to navigate the various philosophies and nutritional advice that in some way intersect with the CrossFit movement, and these two books put together are something of a magnum opus.

The Four Hour Body is a sweeping manifesto, covering a wide range of topics from fat loss to strength gain to swimming and bedroom skills.  I enjoyed his interview with Brian MacKenzie and the million links to useful info.

Loren Cordain’s book is a good introduction to the paleo philosophy, tempered with the needs of a competitive athlete.

Here are some things I’m going to try:

1.  Total Immersion swimming and Aqua Sphere goggles.  Tim’s right on this one…these are the only goggles I’ve ever owned that don’t leak, not ever.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in the pool, but I’ve been trying the Crossfit Endurance WODs in the pool and they are extremely challenging when you are forced to breathe on a limited cadence!

2.  The “Effortless Superhuman” protocol…very similar to what Crossfit Ignite’s programming has been during the strength phases of our programming.  Now I am starting to understand why we do a lot of work at 75%-95% of max but seldom lift at 100%.

3.  Vitamin D in the winter.

4.  I’ve hated butter for years but I might wrap my mind around trying Kerrygold as it’s easy to get at Trader Joe’s.

5.  I will try to have a no-grains breakfast at least 2 days per week.

6.  I will not feel guilty about having a carb shot after a workout.

 

Inconsistencies I noticed:

1.  Milk is panned by both authors for its insulin effects, but Ferriss talks about a muscle gain protocol calling for up to a gallon a day.

2.  Ferriss paints fruit in a poor light, but also talks about a glass of fruit juice having insulin-regulating effects.  Cordain recommends all the fruit you care to eat.

3.  Ferriss is OK with legumes, Cordain is not except for green beans.

4.  Both advocate some form of workout to prime the muscles to receive foods, however Ferriss contends that food is not absorbed quickly enough to really fit into the 30-minute post-workout window prescribed by Cordain.

5.  Nobody seems to mention the coconut thing, which seems to be a favorite in the CrossFit community.

6.  I think each chapter of The Four Hour Body has to be taken individually depending on its specific purpose.  For example, things that work for fat loss conflict with things that work for muscle gain or for superhuman endurance – it cannot all be taken in total, but rather depends on what you are trying to achieve.

 

At any rate, The Four Hour Body is so full of detail that it more like a reference book, and I had to download it onto my Kindle for Windows Phone 7.

 

So I will try a few new things, especially at breakfast, and not feel guilty about my “Four Fingers WOD” as Kelly Starrett terms it, especially if the four fingers pour is a nice glass of Clos Pegase Syrah 🙂