Tuesday, September 19, 2017

40 Clean Eating Chicken Breast Recipes

Lets face it. Clean eating and boneless, skinless chicken breasts basically go hand in hand. It would almost be comical except for the fact that they really are a fantastic source of lean protein.… Read more →

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What Primal Types Can Learn from Plant-Based Diets (and Dieters)

Vegtarier der kraft aus seiner ernährung ziehtI joke around a lot and give them hell, but I have love and respect for plant-based diets and the people who eat them. These folks come at health from an entirely different place, and, it’s true, I don’t think their diets are optimal. I think they get a lot wrong. They often misconstrue what Primal is all about. I’ve even received threats from some of the less grounded members of the community, though I know that these are the outliers, the extremists, and I never took them seriously.

But…I’d also suggest plant-based dieters get a lot right. More than you’d think.

I’m not talking about the pastatarians, of course, or the junk food vegans, or the vegetarians who subsist entirely on pizza and Tofurkey. I’m talking about the ones eating loads of veggies. Actual vegetarians and vegans who eat actual plants.

They can learn a ton from us. That’s true. We can learn a lot from them, too. Today, I wanted to discuss just what I’ve learned and what we can learn from plant-based diets.

How to Maximize Nutrition from Subpar Sources

Being a vegan is hard work. Being a healthy vegan is even harder. We Primal types have it easy. We can really let the nutrient-density fall by the wayside because we can always fall back on a few pastured eggs, a quarter pound of beef liver, some wild salmon, a good steak, some oysters and mussels. Someone on a plant-based diet doesn’t have that luxury. They can’t rely on whey protein or ground beef for high-quality bioavailable protein; they have to combine legumes and grains to get the right mix of amino acids. They can’t get all the zinc and iron they’ll ever need from a half dozen oysters.

They have to comb the literature for nuts and seeds high in each and make sure not to eat too much iron-binding calcium or zinc-interfering copper at the same meal. They can’t eat long-chain omega-3s directly (unless they eat algae); they must make it out of ALA.

Imagine if you ate both high-quality animal foods and maximized the nutrition from plant sources. You’d be unstoppable.

Which Esoteric Leafy Greens You Should Try

There’s a clearly-vegan woman I often see at the farmer’s market. We’ve never spoken about our respective diets (contrary to popular belief, not all vegans immediately announce their dietary ideology), but it’s obvious from the dreadlocks, piercings, waif’s physique, blue/purple/green hair, and (more to the point) basket bulging with green things.

We do talk about what she’s got in that basket though. She’s always digging up the most interesting leafy greens, and I’m quick to ask for recommendations. Without her, I wouldn’t know about star spinach, or purslane (I figured it was just a weed; turns out it’s high in omega-3s, magnesium, and calcium), or sweet potato leaves (I’ve read about their use in Africa while researching for the blog but never actually had them), or the multitude of Asian greens. If you want to move past spinach, kale, chard, and lettuce, ask the only hominids who put down several pounds of leafy greens daily.

Why Low-Carb, High-Fat Didn’t Work For You

I’m on record as claiming that low-carb, high-fat Primal ways of eating are the simplest, most effective way to lose body fat for the most people. Hell, I’m about to release a book predicated on the notion that becoming fat-adapted is great for your health, performance, and longevity. But I’ll also admit that it’s not for everyone. Some people just don’t do well on this type of macronutrient ratio. And that’s fine.

In her excellent presentation at AHS14, entitled “Lessons from the Vegans,” Denise Minger explained how some people who don’t thrive on low-carb, high-fat can actually prosper on low-fat, high-carb diets. But here’s the catch: They should be truly low-fat, as in sub-10% of calories from fat. Anything more, Denise cautions, and you run the risk of entering no man’s land where both fat and glucose metabolism are dysfunctional. The best example of this is the standard American diet, which contains moderate amounts of both (unhealthy) fat and carbs and fails miserably on all fronts.

It’s definitely not for me, and it won’t work for everyone or most, and you’d probably need to include animal foods, but you could put together a decent low-fat diet by sticking to Primal sources.

How Cruel Industrial Animal Agriculture Is

Animal well-being matters to us, but we often couch our distaste for CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in the substandard nutrient content of their products. Makes sense that we’d worry about the nutrition, since we’re eating so many animal foods. But there’s another reason that we shouldn’t forget.

And your average plant-based dieter certainly won’t let you forget that some of the industrial animal operations are truly repugnant. Chickens crammed in cages, beakless and miserable. Cows standing knee deep in their own manure. The actual killing is probably the most humane part, as the vast majority of animals are stunned or otherwise rendered unconscious before being killed and butchered. But the life of a CAFO animal is quite miserable. If anything, it’ll bolster your resolve to seek out sustainably-raised, pastured/grass-fed animal products whenever you can.

Pretty Much Everything to Do with Poop

This is one of the more perplexing habits of most plant-based dieters I’ve encountered. They love waxing poetic on defecation and exploring the day-to-day variations in consistency, frequency, texture, odor, and volume. It’s really something to behold. I almost suggest spending a day in the local vegan cafe just to eavesdrop.

But if you can bear with it, you might indirectly learn about the importance of gut health. A large percentage of poop, after all, is made up of gut bacteria. And if plant-based dieters are proud of the prominence of their feces, they may be doing something right on the gut bacteria front.

Several years back, the media made a huge fuss over a study that claimed to show plant-based diets lead to better gut health and gut biome diversity than diets containing meat. The “meat diet” was a bit of a strawman in that it contained nothing but cheese and cured meats—no fiber at all—but the fact remains that the plant-based diet resulted in a diverse, apparently healthy gut biome.

Take that to heart, and eat some fibrous plant matter. Nothing’s stopping you from enhancing your omnivorous diet with loads of plant matter and fermentable fiber.

How to Prepare Legumes

Legumes are kinda back on the Primal menu. Go read the post, but here’s the gist:

They’re full of fermentable fiber.

They’re quite nutrient-dense, containing lots of folate and minerals.

They’re low in “net carbs,” especially compared to grains.

The lectins they contain are usually deactivated by soaking and/or cooking.

But you’ve been away so long that you probably don’t know how to prepare them. I’ll admit that I don’t really know either.

Check out some vegan blogs for tips and recipes. They rely so much on legumes for the protein content that they’re far more likely to understand the ins and outs of legume preparation and cooking.

You can easily modify the recipes to make them meatier. Add a ham hock or some salt pork (basically, just add pig parts). Use bone broth instead of activated Nepalese rainwater (or make bone broth using the rainwater).

That Humans are Incredible

Take most other animals and put them on a weirdo diet that strays from their biological foundation, and you’ll have a whole bunch of dead animals in a few weeks. They’re fragile. They’re rigid. Dogs could do all right, but that’s because they co-evolved with humans for tens of thousands of years. And the omnivores like bears would do okay on a range of diets. But gorillas? Pandas? Tigers? No way.

Humans can eat just about anything. From Inuit to tropical hunter-gatherers to Swiss dairy farmers to ketogenic dieters to Pacific Islanders to Incan potato farmers to kale-eating highlanders, the range of viable human dietary practices boggles the mind.

No diet is more evolutionarily novel than the vegan diet. There are no known records of successful or even factual vegan groups living before last century. Vegetarian, sure. Vegan for a short period of time due to food shortages, of course. But full-time elective vegans? Nope. It just didn’t happen.

Yet, there are successful vegans living today. Healthy ones. I might think they can all benefit from an oyster or an egg or a piece of liver or two every now and again, but they’re out there and they exemplify the stunning adaptability of the human animal.

So, head down to the local vegan cafe and grab a salad or a bowl (most vegan places hate industrial seed oils as much as we do). I can honestly say I’ve had some genuinely fantastic meals at vegan restaurants.

Talk to the vegan clerk at the health food store for some tips on new veggies to try and how to prepare them.

Pick the brain of the ripped vegan lifter at your gym. What’s his or her secret?

Above all else, don’t ignore good advice and wisdom because of the source. The Primal Blueprint is an opportunist’s way of eating and living. We take what works from ancestral traditions, present-day populations, and modern science to form the best possible lifestyle. That list of influences has to include plant-based dieters—because every group with any kind of success (well, almost every group) has something to offer.

That’s it for me, folks. I think those are some very important lessons, but I’m sure there are more I missed. What have you learned from plant-based diets and dieters?

Thanks for reading and take care!

The post What Primal Types Can Learn from Plant-Based Diets (and Dieters) appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Recent Questions (and My Responses) from Readers

Hi, guys!

I love when readers/followers reach out with questions for me – it’s such a great way to connect with you guys on a deeper level. It also helps me identify topics and areas that you guys want to know more about, so keep those inquires coming! And, with that, here are some questions that I recently received and my responses!

On your Instagram Stories, you always show videos of your espresso machine. Can you tell me what kind it is and whether you would recommend it? 
Ahh, yes, if you follow me on Instagram Stories, you probably see my espresso machine just about everyday! Haha! I received it after attending a special blogger event at the Nespresso Boutique in Boston. Fun side story: I was newly pregnant and hadn’t told anyone yet (not even my friend Elizabeth, who was at the event with me), so I ordered all decaf espresso and coffee and felt like I was acting like such a weirdo. Maybe not, but I felt super awkward hiding my little secret! 🙂 Anyway, the model that I have is the Maestria, and I absolutely love it. I’m drinking a lot more espresso nowadays, so it’s the perfect way to quickly brew up a couple of shots and not spend a fortune at Starbucks.
Photo by Jeremy Ricketts on Unsplash
At the gym, I typically focus on lifting, as that is what I truly enjoy, with a bit of cardio mixed in here and there. I was wondering if you could recommend a good weight lifting shoe, that I could still wear on occasion while doing some cardio.  I would rather not have to change my shoes from one activity to another, if possible.
Right now, I’m loving the Reebok CrossFit Grace. I lift in them and then wear them for the WOD (Workout of the Day). The soles are flat and stable, but they have plenty of flexibility for jumping, running, etc. Basically, they’re a nice mix of both worlds! 🙂
I know I’ve reached out to you in the past, but I was hoping you could shed some light on the topic of macros. I was tracking them perfectly all summer, to the point that I felt it became a little too perfect. I was hitting my numbers every day to the point that I would feel so bad if I didn’t. With that being said, this past week I fell off the macro wagon. And it feels like I fell off the healthy wagon too. I’m eating things I didn’t all summer because they didn’t fit my numbers. Obviously, I will go back to my healthy ways, but I’m wondering if you ever have gone through a slump after tracking. And how you get back on track without being so crazy about the numbers. I guess I’m basically looking to get back on the healthy track without tracking macros.
I’ve definitely gone through slumps with my eating habits and sometimes it’s really hard to get back on track. Instead of focusing on the numbers, how about keeping things simple and just focusing on eating wholesome, minimally-processed foods (fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats), but allowing for some “fun” foods about 20% of the time. I love the 80/20 balance – it’s just so realistic for the long-term. Another idea to get back on track and not focus so much on the numbers is reusing some of your old meal plans (like if you’re tracking in MyFitnessPal) to guide your eating. If you felt good over the summer, you could always go back to those days and repeat them (but not count macros). And, finally, try to pay attention to your hunger/fullness without tracking macros. Focus on eating well to feel well! 🙂
I’ve been searching your blog everywhere looking for a link for that child jacket-with-built-in-gloves that you used for Qman. I need one for my little 15-month old guy!! What brand is it?
It’s called a Cubbies – and they are AWESOME! I’m definitely going to order another one for Qman this winter. FYI: I think they run a little small, so if your little one is in between sizes, order up!
Do you have a good wing recipe that you recommend for football season? I’m not the best cook, so the easier the better! 
You’re in luck! I actually have two DELICIOUS and EASY recipes that are serious crowd-pleasers: Grandma’s Wings (only 2 ingredients) and The Best Friggin’ Wing Recipe.

How do you eat your coconut butter?

I lovvvveee the vanilla cake batter coconut butter from Nikki’s. I typically eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, but it’s also delicious melted and mixed with fruit (mashed banana, berries, microwaved apple slices), mashed into sweet potatoes, stirred into oatmeal, and incorporated into baked goods (there are lots of recipes on the Nikki’s website) as well as no-bake desserts (my favorites: No-Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Bars and No-Bake Almond Joy Cookies). I also hear Nikki’s coconut butter is delicious stirred into hot coffee. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my agenda for as soon as the weather turns cold. Imagine vanilla cake batter with pumpkin spice coffee… OMG.

I know you have your L1 Crossfit Certification but don’t currently coach anywhere. Would you recommend getting this certification even if you don’t plan on coaching? I’m a personal trainer and nutritionist who LOVES CrossFit and I am open to coaching in the future for sure. The L1 (as you know!) is expensive so I was just wondering if you thought it was a worthwhile investment for yourself as a fitness professional.

I loved the CrossFit L1 course! I thought it was such a cool experience, and, it you’re a CF fan, it’s THE BEST. When I took it, I wasn’t sure if I’d coach; I really just wanted to the knowledge for CNC and personally. You learn a lot of the usual fitness info – but with a CrossFit spin and why the sport does the things that it does, which I thought was really interesting and, for sure, impacted how I think about fitness. Overall, I definitely think it was worth it!

Question of the Day

Have a question for me? Let it rip in the comment section below! 🙂

Want more Q & A?

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Second Chance Banana Bites

Ever since the dawn of healthy living blogs we have been making tasty, healthy “cookie” recipes. We want cookies any time – breakfast, second breakfast, snack, second snack, dessert, second dessert! ; ) So, here is a recipe for banana bites.

They are like those cookies you can have at any time. But, I don’t want to trick anyone into thinking that these are melt-in-your-mouth buttery, sugary cookies, so I call them “bites” instead. They are made with just five simple ingredients, and they are the perfect way to use some some extra ripe bananas! Hence the name, “second chance!”

This recipe couldn’t be easier. First, mash the bananas.

Then, mix in other ingredients (the bites are brown from a healthy dose of cinnamon!)

I used slivered almonds for crunch, but feel free to use your favorite nut or leave them out to be lunchbox-friendly.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for about 25 minutes.

They’ll get just firm to the touch, but they are still soft throughout.

These are ideal warm on their own, but you can also mash them into yogurt or oatmeal!

Store them in the fridge and heat in a toaster oven when you’re ready to enjoy them again.

Second Chance Banana Bites

Yield 12 cookies


  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup quick oats (might need more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2  tsp cinnamon
  • Handful slivered almonds (Optional.  Or desired nut)
  • Dash of Kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork until smooth and liquid-like.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, using more quick oats if needed.
  4. Spoon “dough” to a greased or parchment paper lined pan.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until desired doneness.

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