Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Experience with Eggs & Acne

Several months ago, I gave up eggs – kind of by mistake – but I went 40 days without eating them. I started a seed cycling protocol to help with balancing my hormones because I had stopped taking oral contraceptives. The protocol required incorporating all kind of seeds into my diet, so I started eating Powerseed Overnight Oatmeal instead of eggs, just about every morning for breakfast. It was an easy way to get in the seeds.

Prior to going off the pill (and even before I started taking it), I was getting huge, deep acne cysts on my neck. I’d get a few breakouts on my face from time-to-time, but they were minor and nothing like what was happening on my neck. The cysts on my neck randomly popped up all month long, so they didn’t seem related to my hormones. They were semi-painful and looked terrible (and no amount of concealer covered them up), so I asked my GI doctor, Registered Dietitian friends, and Googled like crazy to figure out how the heck to get rid of them. No one really had an answer and, not surprisingly, the Internet was all over the place with what to do. I struggled with this awful neck acne for months and months (and wasted money on so many acne products), but then, during the seed cycling protocol, it just went away. It was like magic!

Once I realized that maybe eggs were making me breakout, I continued to avoid them in my diet. My skin got so much better (I also credit Beautycounter for the improvement!) until… Kerrie and I went to San Francisco. Since we were traveling and ate all of our meals out, I ended up ordering a variety of egg breakfasts during our stay. I guess I was getting a little cocky because my skin was the best it’s been in years, and I didn’t think a few eggs would make a huge difference. Plus, eggs are an easy source of protein, and I just couldn’t say no to the delicious avocado egg sandwiches on just about every menu. Of course, breaking out crossed my mind, but I figured, worse case, it was a good test to see what would happen. Sure enough, once I was back home, a few cysts popped up on my neck. Darn eggs!

After that, I laid off the eggs again until New Years Eve day when Mal offered to make me an egg sandwich on morning. It was the last day of 2017, and I figured, “What the hell?” Plus, I wanted to see if just a single egg would make me breakout. The outcome: A cyst on the side of my neck popped up just a couple of days later. Whomp whomp.

So, eggs are out of my diet right now. If they’re cooked into something, like a donut, things are mostly fine, but I just try not to go overboard on recipes/foods with eggs in them. From what I know about eggs, it’s typically the whites that give people problems, so I want to try eating just some yolks (since they’re so nutritious) to see what happens. I’ll be sure to report back! In the meantime, I wanted to share some egg-free breakfasts that I’ve been eating lately. I definitely miss eggs (and egg sandwiches!) for breakfast, but now that I’ve found some new favorites, it’s not so bad. I hope you guys find them helpful!

Top left clockwise:

Still looking for some more egg-free breakfast ideas? Check out this blog post!

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The Anti-Stress Tool I’ve Used For 20 Years (and a Giveaway)

Primal_Calm_inlineI haven’t talked much about stress this month, and I don’t want to give it short shrift. Yes, there’s a lot to take apart with food and exercise, both of which can feel more “actionable” at times. But stress can be a major roadblock to success. How we deal with emotional and physical stress will invariably impact our health, well-being and performance. Until we dial it in, we’ll compromise the results of all our other Primal efforts.

I’ve said in the past that stress has been one of the hardest aspects I’ve struggled with—and continue to now and then. Living Primally means I’m running on full rather than empty to be sure, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world always conforms to logic or sanity, let alone my preferences. And emotional tension aside, I like to push myself periodically in the gym or on an outdoor adventure, which means I’m dealing with physical stressors, too.

Here’s one thing I’ve done for twenty years to counter both emotional and physical stress.

Recently, I sat down with Brad Kearns to talk about one of the best kept secrets in performance nutrition—a potent anti-stress agent called Phosphatidylserine (PS).

PS is the lead ingredient in Primal Calm, a custom formulation that has been proven to help blunt the spike of cortisol in the bloodstream in response to stress. Old time endurance athletes like Brad and I have been using PS for over 20 years to help speed recovery from crazy training binges, but PS and the supportive ingredients in Primal Calm are also effective against routine modern life stressors like jet travel, hectic daily routines, compromised sleep, and so on.

We talk in the video about the physiology of stress and the best ways to use PS or Primal Calm—with more specific recommendations for bouts of heavy stress or training.

The goal isn’t to blunt the edge that can sharpen your focus or performance. It’s to achieve an evenness or, in some cases, a mellowness rather than the amped-up fight or flight response. I could easily write more, but check out my talk with Brad, and let me know what you think.

Now For the Giveaway…

320_Primal_CalmI don’t think I give enough attention to Primal Calm on the blog, but today I’m going big. I’d like to give one random commenter a year’s supply of Primal Calm (12 bottles).

Just tell me what questions you have about stress—emotional stress, training related stress, etc.—or what stress-related topics you’d like me to write about on MDA.

Be sure to comment before midnight tonight (1/23/18 PST) to be eligible to win. (And be sure to use a functional email address when you comment. We’ve had to choose alternate winners on a few occasions this month because emails were undeliverable to the listed addresses.)

Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. Take care.


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Primal Challenge Point: Starting From the “Bottom”

Inline_Live-Awesome-645x445-03In all my years talking with clients and readers, I’ve heard people often say they’re starting from zero, from rock bottom, with no baseline at all. I understand where they were coming from. Everyone is beginning this journey with a different level of fitness and health. I get that. Yet, I let me tell you this: never in my entire career have I met anyone starting with nothing. The concept defies physiological reality.

You might be in the worst shape of your life. You might be tipping the scale at an all-time high. You might be fighting a serious health condition you never dreamed you’d be dealing with. You may have battled disordered eating. You might not remember when/if you ever had a good self-image.

You might get winded walking up half a flight of stairs. You may have lost significant muscle mass. You might struggle to simply sit with (let alone carry) around the extra 50, 75, or 100+ pounds you’ve put on. However, your body is still made to move. It still craves it. It likely feels harder to train, sure, but—make no mistake—living and breathing within you is that pure physical force you and everyone else was born with. Choosing to live Primally—with the right fuel, the expected movement, the necessary sleep and sun—simply allows you to live out the full measure of that vital potential.

And let me say something else about one’s “baseline.” When beginning a journey like this, baseline is about much more than VO2 max, mile time, bench press weight, or lipid profile. Numbers don’t tell your story, and they don’t determine your prospects for success.

Think for a minute about what else you bring to your personal resolution. What about the motivational power? What about the emotional stamina? What about the social strength of friends, family, and Primal community? What about the force of full-on personal investment or raw will? Those count for something. In fact, those often count for everything. Your physical baseline determines the particular level you start from, but it doesn’t define the trajectory of your journey or the fulfillment of your experience along the way.

Along these lines, let me offer a few suggestions and invite each and every one of our readers to give their own perspective and encouragement.

Invest in Support

As you begin the Challenge, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the support system you have. Not everyone in your life is on board with the Primal Blueprint, it’s true. Regardless, look to those in your life who bring a Primally sympathetic or just open mindset. Some friends, even if they can’t understand why you’re eating so much fat, will support you because they want to simply celebrate any investment you make in your health and happiness. Embrace that. Open yourself to the support of folks in this community. Participate in the comment boards, join the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group, and you’ll see what I mean. Finally, if you feel like past issues like disordered eating still have a grip on you, enlist the professional help you need and deserve.

Develop Big Picture Perspective

Sometimes people get caught up in a particular goal and lose sight of the full process. Embrace daily Primal living and not just your long-range goal. Going Primal will get you to the destination you have in mind, but it’s not the deprivation-focused, white-knuckle experience you might be used to. Use this year to transform your life as well as you physiology. Relish the myriad of benefits going Primal offers. It’s more than the weight loss and lean muscle mass. Notice the better quality sleep, the more even mood, the sharper focus, the more consistent energy in your day. On that note…

Prioritize Feeling Good (Primally Speaking) Every Day

You’re making a point of eating real, ancestral-worthy food, of adding an exercise regimen. Rest assured, you’re remaking your physiology in the process. You will absolutely reap the benefits long before the first couple months of the year is over. But also make a point of doing something (or several things) that make you feel good today. These healthy “indulgences” can help get you through a rough day of low carb flu or unexpected stress. Relax in the sun. Relish turning in early for a full night’s sleep. (Remember what that feels like?) Share a walk with a good friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Play. Enjoy an old hobby. Take a personal retreat. Make a masterpiece dinner and savor it in real ambiance. In other words, let yourself enjoy the process. Make your Primal lifestyle a continual experience of “good life” indulgence as well as a powerful investment in your health.

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Family Dinner with Wegmans

This post is sponsored by Wegmans Food Markets.

Charlottesville got its first Wegmans grocery store a little over a year ago, and it has been a game changer for our town. Our store is massive and has everything you could possibly think of to make for dinner. (Even fresh lobster!) Mazen loves the train that cruises along the ceiling and the drivable shopping carts. I like the huge variety of grocery offerings (there are things like their herby organic basting oil that I can only buy there) and the hot and salad bars (the Asian section is my weakness!)

We almost always do our grocery shopping on Sundays, and often I will take a short cut and pick up a halfway-made dinner. Think: rotisserie chicken, a side from the hot bar, or a special loaf of crusty bread to go with soup. You guys know that Sunday is our day to r e l a x  (when we’re not playing soccer!) and this hack saves us a little time in the kitchen.

Wegmans reached out to me about a post to showcase their new oven-safe packaged entrées. Designed to easily feed a family, these entrées go right into the oven in the packaging! Wegmans also recommends two healthy sides to make it a meal and a beverage pairing that complements the flavors. Everything is made from real food and is preservative free. The entrées are available in a variety of Wegmans recipes, so there are plenty of meals to try.

On the menu for my meal: Brown Sugar BBQ Pork with seasoned green beans and carrot puree, and a Belgian-style beer pairing: Ommegang Rosetta.

The oven-safe package is made from Mylar, a food-safe polyester film designed for cooking. The properties of the film will not burn or melt in temperatures below 425 degrees. This cooking film has been around for a long time and has been extensively tested for safe direct contact with food by the FDA and two universities with packaging studies programs: Virginia Tech and the Rochester Institute of Technology. It’s also made without any added BPA.

I think the packaging is genius because no one looks forward to soaking and scrubbing pans. Cook and clean-up all in one. I also love that they have done all the marinating and seasoning for you. Just remove the labels, pop it on a sheet pan into the oven at the recommended temperature or in the slow cooker for some variety, and set a timer for the recommended cook time. These will also keep up to two weeks in the fridge or freeze right in the bag, so you have all the meal plan flexibility you need.

I served the two vegetables – green beans and carrot puree – on the side. At first glance I didn’t know how the carrot puree would be, but it was DELICIOUS! The ingredient list included butter and spices like ginger. (I learned that Wegmans also makes zucchini and cauliflower purees that can be eaten on their own or mixed into soups and sauces.)

When the pork shoulder was done making our house smell amazing, we took it out to pull apart.

We then drizzled on more Brown Sugar BBQ sauce.

Dinner is served!

We were blown away by the food, and it made so much we had it enthusiastically two nights in a row! The pork was melt-in-your mouth tender, and we loved the sauce. It tasted so good, it could have been from any BBQ restaurant in town. The green beans were solid, and the carrot puree was like a lighter, smoother version of mashed sweet potatoes, but with a distinct carrot flavor.

One of my college friends was from upstate New York and talked about Wegmans all.the.time, so I knew it was a beloved grocery store before I ever set foot in one. Now I know why! What do you love about Wegmans?

Thanks to Wegmans Food Markets for sponsoring this post!

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Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole Recipe

This Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole recipe is a wonderfully comforting way to enjoy dinner with fewer carbs.

As many of you know, I’ve returned to low carb eating, but on my own terms. So far so good, as it’s controlling my blood sugar wonderfully! I still cook plenty of higher carb dishes for Mini Chef and for friends. But for myself, the low carb thing is really helping. I feel much better too.

Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole recipe sliced and placed on a white plate.

But that doesn’t change my need for comfort foods. I still crave a comforting meal, particularly during colder months and few things beat a good meatloaf casserole. In fact, I have a small but growing list of new comfort foods that are lower in carbs. I do miss my lentils, but they do a number on my blood sugar. So all I can do is work on creating a new list of favorite foods. It’s kind of a fun adventure!

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes are a classic American comfort food. But the potatoes don’t work for me these days. If you prefer carbs, by all means, use mashed potatoes instead! But if, like me, you are trying to lower your carb intake, then this cauli-mash is the perfect replacement. I hope you’ll enjoy this Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole recipe. We sure did!

Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole recipe still in the loaf pan. You can see the layer of mashed cauliflower on top sprinkled with specks of fresh parsley.


Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry


Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole

Few comfort foods can beat a good meatloaf. But serve it with mashed deliciousness covering the top and you have a whole new level of comfort food.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Yield: 6 servings

Calories: 246 kcal

Author: The Gracious Pantry


  • 2 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried ground rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped, fresh broccoli
  • 2 (12 oz.) packages riced cauliflower (I used frozen, but raw works too)
  • 2 tbsp. butter (or butter substitute for dairy free)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder


  1. Place all meat loaf ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead to combine thoroughly. Transfer to a greased loaf pan and even the surface of the loaf.

  2. Bake for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches at least 165 F.

  3. While the meatloaf bakes, cook the cauliflower and cool.

  4. When cool enough to touch, transfer to a cheese cloth and wring out as much liquid as you can over the sink.

  5. Once you've gotten as much water out of the cauliflower as you can, transfer it to a blender, food processor or back to the empty pot you cooked it in if you have a stick blender.

  6. Add in the butter and garlic powder and blend until you have a smooth mash.

  7. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and smooth the mash over the meatloaf. Top with a little fresh, chopped parsley and slice to serve.

Recipe Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition Facts

Clean Eating Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf Casserole

Amount Per Serving

Calories 246 Calories from Fat 72

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 8g 12%

Saturated Fat 3g 15%

Cholesterol 155mg 52%

Sodium 144mg 6%

Potassium 563mg 16%

Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%

Dietary Fiber 1g 4%

Sugars 0g

Protein 38g 76%

Vitamin A 12.3%

Vitamin C 22%

Calcium 5.4%

Iron 17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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