Wednesday, October 2, 2019

NorCal Margarita Recipe

While alcohol isn’t Paleo, we’re social creatures and imbibing is a huge part of our culture. So, let’s just do it smarter, right? 

Much of the problem with drinking is not the booze itself but all the extra crap that comes with it. Ditch your heavy IPAs and umbrella drinks. 

Nicki and I first whipped up this Paleo cocktail back in 2004 in Chico, California when we were just starting NorCal Strength and Conditioning (CrossFit NorCal). It quickly became popular… and rightly so!

The reason why this drink is SO good? Just a few ingredients, gluten/grain free alcohol, no sugar, carbonated water delivers the booze to your system faster, lime juice helps blunt your body’s insulin response, plus it’s damn tasty!

Here’s how you do it… 

NorCal Margarita


  • 1.5-3 oz of tequila (preferably gold)
  • Soda water
  • Lime and/or lemon
  • Ice 

Put desired amount of ice and tequila in your glass. Top with soda water and squeeze as much lime or lemon in there to make your taste buds happy. Stir. Enjoy!

NorCal LMNT Margarita

We didn’t think we’d ever top it. But then we created our LMNT Citrus Salt electrolytes. And voila! The LMNT NorCal Marg was born. Just as simple and tasty (if not more so…). Plus, replenishing your electrolytes as you drink helps stave off the hangover 😉


Put desired amount of ice and tequila in your glass. Top with water. Dump in a packet of LMNT Citrus Salt. Stir. Enjoy!

from The Paleo Diet

Whey Protein vs. Pea Protein

In response to the recent post on whey vs. collagen, a number of readers wrote in asking about pea protein. Today, I’m going to compare the two.

Before I begin, let’s get this out of the way: I’m biased toward whey protein. I sell the stuff. But the reason I sell whey protein is because I really like it, not the other way around. All my products are things that solved a problem I was having, an itch I needed to scratch. I made Primal Kitchen Mayo with avocado oil because I couldn’t find one without industrial seed oils and I didn’t want to make it fresh every time I wanted tuna salad. I put together Adaptogenic Calm (formerly Primal Calm) to help me and my buddies recover from heavy training. And so on. I made Primal Fuel out of whey protein isolate because it is the best gram-for-gram protein powder around. But pea protein is having its day in the sun now, and readers want the facts.

Common Arguments For Pea Protein

Is pea protein just as good as whey at building muscle?

Well, let’s take a look at the literature.

First of all, pea protein contains all 9 essential amino acids. That’s great.

Pea protein contains fewer branch chain amino acids—those amino acids that contribute most to muscle protein synthesis, but it does have them.

Pea protein is about 9% leucine, a very important amino acid for muscle building. Whey is 10-11% leucine, so pea comes pretty close.

In one study, resistance trained men and women in their 20s-40s were split into two groups. One group used pea protein. The other used whey protein. Both groups trained in the same manner (Crossfit-esque). At the end of 8 weeks they measured changes in muscle thickness, force production, and WOD (workout of the day) performance. Neither group had an advantage. Both groups gained about the same amount of muscle, performance, and force production.

In another study of resistance-training adults (men, aged 18-35), pea protein and whey protein resulted in similar bicep muscle gains.

That all looks pretty good for pea (and whey), but these were relatively young adults. As people age, the quality of the protein becomes ever more paramount. A young man or woman is hormonally primed for hypertrophy. Nature is working with them, not against them. If anything, they can actually get away with eating less protein than an older person of the same weight and still gain and maintain muscle because their ability to utilize dietary protein is optimized. Older people need more protein to do the same job because their ability to utilize dietary protein has degraded.

Not only do older people need high quantities of protein, they need high quality protein—bioavailable protein full of amino acids that promote muscle protein synthesis. Whey is simply higher quality on a biological level than pea protein. That difference may not show up as much in the younger person lifting and drinking protein shakes to increase their calories for mass gain, but it certainly shows up in the older person lifting and drinking protein shakes and trying to hold on to their lean mass.

Okay. You’re younger. You’re eating plenty of calories. You’re trying to gain weight. Your muscle protein synthesis capacities are optimal. You should, in theory, be fine with pea protein. Right? Sure, but why?

Pea protein is usually more expensive. It’s still technically lower quality than whey. The best justification for using pea protein to gain/maintain muscle is either you’ve got an uncle who works at a pea protein processing plant and can get you a great deal, or you’re vegan. That’s it.

All that said, pea protein looks to be the best plant-based protein around for performance in the gym. No arguments there.

What about high blood pressure? I’ve seen claims that pea protein can lower it.

Perhaps. In hypertensive rodents (probably working high stress jobs, enduring long commutes, and generally deep into the rat race), pea protein causes drastic reductions in high blood pressure, while the reductions are much more modest in humans taking pea protein daily for three weeks.

Whey does it too. In humans, a single dose of whey protein after a meal reduces postprandial blood pressure and improves arterial stiffness for up to 5 hours. It may just be the protein. Extra protein in general is great at lowering blood pressure, especially if you remove carbohydrates.

The (Relatively) Unique Strengths Of Whey Protein

The thing about protein powder is this—although whey gets most of its accolades on account of its effect on hypertrophy—gains, larger muscles, better performance, etc.—that’s not everything it can do. It also has some very unique health effects that other protein powders, most especially plant proteins like pea, do not possess.

Whey is anti-allergenic.

On the one hand, whey intolerance is the dairy protein intolerance with the lowest incidence. People are far more likely to be intolerant of or allergic to casein. But whey isn’t just less likely to be allergenic. It’s downright anti-allergenic. Whey-based formulas have shown efficacy in the prevention of allergic diseases like asthma and eczema in susceptible children and infants.

There’s no evidence that pea protein powder can do this.

Whey is anti-stress.

In “high-stress” subjects, a whey protein shake improved cognitive function and performance by increasing serotonin levels. The same shake had no effect on “low-stress” subjects. And dietary whey also lowers oxidative brain stress, at least in mice.

Pea protein may do this, but I haven’t seen the research.

Whey boosts antioxidant capacity.

Whey protein is one of the best foods we know that increase levels of glutathione—the body’s master antioxidant. We use glutathione to detoxify the liver, to metabolize alcohol and other toxic substances, to control allergic reactions, to recycle and restore to active status vitamins and antioxidants, to quell free radicals, and to perform many other vital processes.

There is simply no evidence that pea protein has the same effect. It doesn’t have enough cysteine.

Whey transforms when you digest it.

Once the whey protein hits your GI tract, many different bioactive peptides with their own unique effects are formed. In a recent review (PDF), a team of Polish researchers explored the effects of at least nine of these whey-derived peptides. Some improve blood lipids, lower blood pressure, or act as opioid receptor agonists (if you’ve ever seen a milk-drunk baby bliss out after nursing, his opioid receptors are likely being severely agonized by bioactive peptides). Others induce satiety and improve metabolic health biomarkers.

I’m sure other proteins change when digested, but their effects haven’t been studied as closely as whey.

Bioactive Components In Whey (But Not Pea Protein)

There are also a number of bioactive components in whey protein that are not in pea protein:




  • Improves bone healing and prevents bone loss.
  • Chelates excessive iron, preventing it from fueling infections (many bacteria require iron), increasing inflammation, or becoming carcinogenic.
  • Has anti-bacterial effects against food pathogens like E. coli and Listeria.

Immuno-globulins (A, M, G)

Could pea protein have similar aspects that have yet to be quantified and studied? Perhaps. But I doubt it.

After all, whey was designed by evolutionary processes to be food for other entities. It’s meant to be consumed—that’s its express purpose, and it’s why it has so many interesting bioactive components that support health.  Pea protein was not, and likely does not.

Again, if you’re vegan and looking to gain muscle, pea protein is a great choice. But if you’re not, and you’re interested in other aspects of health, whey protein is the much better option.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!



Banaszek A, Townsend JR, Bender D, Vantrease WC, Marshall AC, Johnson KD. The Effects of Whey vs. Pea Protein on Physical Adaptations Following 8-Weeks of High-Intensity Functional Training (HIFT): A Pilot Study. Sports (Basel). 2019;7(1)

Babault N, Païzis C, Deley G, et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(1):3.

Teunissen-beekman KF, Dopheide J, Geleijnse JM, et al. Protein supplementation lowers blood pressure in overweight adults: effect of dietary proteins on blood pressure (PROPRES), a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(4):966-71.

Bumrungpert A, Pavadhgul P, Nunthanawanich P, Sirikanchanarod A, Adulbhan A. Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Nutritional Status, Glutathione Levels, and Immune Function in Cancer Patients: A Randomized, Double-Blind Controlled Trial. J Med Food. 2018;21(6):612-616.

Chandra RK. Food hypersensitivity and allergic diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002;56 Suppl 3:S54-6.

Markus CR, Olivier B, De haan EH. Whey protein rich in alpha-lactalbumin increases the ratio of plasma tryptophan to the sum of the other large neutral amino acids and improves cognitive performance in stress-vulnerable subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;75(6):1051-6.

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I Got Some “Good” News Yesterday

I have a candida overgrowth!

I know… you’re probably thinking: “WTF, why would anyone be excited about that?” Well, after years and years of searching for answers, I finally feel like things are starting to make sense. Hopefully!

Photo by monica di loxley on Unsplash

Ok, so I was a little hesitant to share this news on the blog and social media because of what people might think (and say). I mean, candida is a yeast overgrowth. It sounds pretty gross. But even if one person can benefit from this information, it’s worth it. Plus, I know there are readers and followers who are lost and struggling with their health, so this could possibly be an avenue to explore. Candida issues are actually really common. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but if any of this sounds familiar, please chat with your appropriate health professional.

Let’s start with the basics…

All sorts of fungi live in and on the human body, including yeasts known as candida. Candida is typically found in small amounts in the mouth, intestines, and on the skin. At normal levels, it’s not a problem and most people have some candida in their system. However, when Candida begins to grow uncontrollably, it can causes all sorts of health issues. Typically, the healthy bacteria in your body keep candida levels under control. But if healthy bacteria levels are disrupted or the immune system is compromised (aka autoimmune diseases), candida can begin to overproduce.

Here are some factors that can lead to candida overgrowth:

  • Taking antibiotics – I took antibiotics 4 times in 2008 and another 2 times (strong ones) in 2019 as well as a ton of them as a kid and teenager (acne meds)
  • Taking oral contraceptives – I took them for 15 years before getting pregnant.
  • A weakened immune system – Yep, thanks to UC and the various drugs I’ve been on over the years.
  • High alcohol intake – I wouldn’t say high, but I like(d) to have a few glasses of wine each week.
  • Eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs – I mean, I like dessert.
  • High stress levels – 2017 and 2018 were rough years for me.
  • Diabetes

Common candida symptoms (from Dr. Amy Meyers):

  • Skin and nail fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus
  • Feeling tired and worn down or suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD, and/or brain fog
  • Skin issues including eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
  • Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, rectal itching, or vaginal itching
  • Severe seasonal allergies or itchy ears
  • Strong sugar and refined carbohydrate cravings

Can you relate to the risk factors and symptoms above? I’ve experienced some of the symptoms, and I basically checked all of the boxes for risk factors, so I guess you could say I’m not all that surprised by my diagnosis.

The test that my functional practitioner recommended was the “Candidiasis FingerStick” from Alletess Medical Labs. It measures various candida antibodies in your blood (IgM, IgA, IgG), which may suggest overgrowth. This overgrowth could be of digestive, respiratory (i.e. my gross cough), nasal, oral, genital, or urinary tract origin. There are other tests available as well as the DIY “spit test.”

So, now my basic treatment plan looks like this:

1. Anti-candida diet for a minimum of 3 months. Basically, starve the “yeasty beasties” by removing the foods that feed it. Giving up peanut butter (mold) is going to be hard! I’m also starting Betaine HCl to help with my digestion since I failed the “burp test” so badly.
2. After 2-3 weeks on the candida diet, start an herbal anti-fungal(s) to destroy candida’s cell walls while supporting microbe balance in the GI tract and discouraging the growth of yeast. We might need to try a few different ones, and Diflucan is potentially on the table as well.
3. Repopulate gut with good bacteria using a high-potency probiotic to keep candida under control.
So, that’s the plan! I’m excited to get started and, hopefully, move in the right direction as far as getting me out of this flare once and for all. My practitioner even thinks that the yeast overgrowth may have even lead to my ulcerative colitis diagnosis. Isn’t that nuts? When I look back at what was going on in my life (i.e. antibiotics, birth control, beer, lots of wheat bread, stress), it’s definitely possible! I’m really hoping for the best with this plan of attack. I’m so sick of being sick!
If you have any experience with candida, please send it my way! I have a feeling these next 3 months are going to be tough (wahhh, no wine), but totally transformative! 🙂
If you’re interested in learning more, my practitioner suggested The Yeast Connection by William Crook, MD. I just ordered it and can’t wait to dive in!

The post I Got Some “Good” News Yesterday appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.

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Where The Wild Things Crawl

Have you ever seen a cuter bunch?! Birch, Fern, and Harrison (the fox!) got to model some cute outfits for Green Bean Baby Boutique a few weeks ago. Amy Yang Photography did such a beautiful job again – especially since they all just wanted to crawl away! You can spot them on the Green Bean website 🙂

Handsome fellas

Birch + Fern <3

What else is new?

Now that we’re done with the doorway bouncer, which had to be taken away for safety reasons rather than dislike, we’ve moved on to bigger boy tables. Erica had this Skip Hop table in her basement – Fern was not a fan (yet!) so we’re borrowing it for now. Birch likes it for 15-20 minutes, so it’s been great to pull out around dinnertime.

Two Teeth + Counting

Mazen got his top teeth right around 13 months. When will B get his?! They look like they are starting to come down, but might still have a ways to go.

Corner Juice – Downtown!

I love having a spot downtown that I can walk to for a juice. The Juice Place closed, and Corner Juice totally renovated the spot and opened recently. They have smoothie bowls, paninis, baguettes, and juice. I walked downtown with Caroline to check it out and had a juice plus a brie, prosciutto, and fig panini.

Those Brothers!

Birch’s whole face lights up when Mazen comes in the room. Probably because Mazen is always the loudest thing in the room :mrgreen:

This is why…

…we’re re-doing the back deck. This is the state of our roof deck. No one has even been up there to touch the railings and they’re falling off! So unsafe. They’re only a few years old too. Thomas’s company does things the right way, so we’re re-doing the deck – with some bells and whistles (!!)


On the food front: Coconuts!

Oatmeal + granola + raspberries + almond butter + fresh coconut meat! Now that fall is coming, I’m craving all things oatmeal again.

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