On falling off the cave-wagon.

10 Oct

I am now entering week two of my primal-ish eating mission. While it is far to early to deem this mission a success or failure, I have definitely won a few skirmishes, including the discovery of acorn squash and going steal-cut-oatmeal cold turkey, but I lost some of the bigger battles. Eating like a caveman is much harder than I imagined (stupid, misleading Geico commercials). Clearly they didn’t have giant piles of free cookies to contend with.

I have always been a fairly healthy (if voracious) eater, and have had fairly healthy relationship with food. I was raised on home-cooked meals, always from scratch, sometimes referenced from Laurel’s Kitchen or any of a number of Moosewood cookbooks. My one vice, the extent of whose power over me I am only just now discovering, was comfort baking.

I love baking: I love the process of it, the precise measurements, compulsively scooping and spacing the dough, and every fear-of- salmonella-tinged lap at the batter-coated kitchenware. I especially love baking in the fall, not just for the flavors (i.e. PUMPKIN), but for comfortable enjoyment of the final product, which I never allow to cool for a sufficient amount of time. It was an easy decision to go primal while cruising on an oatmeal schoolhouse cookie high, but once the sugar (and flour) left my system, and stayed gone…

For my first few days in the near absence of carbohydrates, I think my body may have been running on pure optimism: I was sleeping better at night, I decided. And even when I wasn’t sleeping better, I had more energy. And were my pants fitting less snugly?  The temperature outside dropped ten degrees, the leaves started to change, and all was right with the world.

But on day four something felt…off. I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t have any energy. I had too much schoolwork, imminent midterms, and I just wanted to bake something. Unfortunately, when living alone (or with a cat that only eats canned meat), baking tends to lead to eating. Besides, all-knowing Grok, lord of primal eaters, was watching over me now, brow ridge furrowed in perpetual judgment. He would not want me to bake. He’d probably rather I skin and eat a squirrel.

I restrained myself, which fueled my pride if nothing else. Unfortunately, the next day my advisor treated our research group to dinner at a Pho restaurant where the only non-noodled dishes were a few lame-sounding salads. After the group had witnessed me consume a lame salad for lunch, I didn’t really want to draw attention to my eating. I ordered the Chicken and Eggplant pho, figuring I could eat around the rice noodles, which swiftly became eating only the rice noodles that got stuck to the chicken in my chopsticks. Which became eating all the rice noodles.

Still, I really only considered that stumbling towards the edge of the wagon. They were rice noodles after all. The whole falling thing didn’t really start until Friday. This weekend my fellowship program hosted a conference, complete with a reception, dinner, breakfast, and lunch. Additionally, my Friday morning engineering seminar always begins with a giant table of cookies and coffee, which I indulged in. I figured that two tiny cookies wouldn’t do any harm. Just two tiny steps closer to the edge of the wagon.

I was a good cavegirl at the reception, gorging on wilted crudités and cheese cubes (but no crackers), so I didn’t feel that bad when I ate half of a roll with dinner (It was only half!) and a few of the potatoes. I felt quite good leaving, but that may have been the wine more than the food. The next morning, I was appalled to discover that their idea of breakfast was a platter of fruit and baked goods. I had a scone, but only because it was much smaller than the alternative muffin. Lunch following the panel discussion was equally regrettable: assorted cold cuts and bread. I put cold cuts on top of the salad and tried to ignore what I deemed to be disparaging glances.

That’s when I spotted them, on the far end of the table: Thick, cake-y brownies with crisp tops, dusted with powdered sugar. I will leave out the gory details, but let’s just say that the brownie is no longer with us. I think the worst part of the situation was not the horrible stomachache I got a few hours later, or how I felt so guilty about eating it that it made my stomach even worse. Then I felt guilty about feeling guilty, because I am such a healthy eater, or at least I was, and I should be okay with the occasional indulgence.

No, the worse part was that the brownie wasn’t even worth it. It all dried out and didn’t really taste like chocolate. It was about as shitty as a brownie could get without containing actual fecal matter, or being vegan. Well, I’m back on the wagon now, if one day of eating primal is enough to designate such placement. I even went to Whole Foods today and picked up the primal baking staples: almond flour, coconut flour, and coconut oil. Now I can have my ‘bake’ and eat it too! BOOM PUN.

Anyway here is a recipe for Primal Turkey Patties. I ate them after brownie-gate and they made me feel a lot better. I’m not really a fan of turkey burgers because I usually dry them out (as I do with most cuts of meat), but these were amazing. Still pale in comparison to my dad’s though.

Primal Turkey Patties


Big handful of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/8 minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 heaping tbsp blue cheese crumbles
1/4 package ground turkey
Spices (I used black pepper, a pinch of sea salt, cumin, and cayenne, but I imagine any combination would be good)
Splash of egg whites

Mix everything together in a bowl and form into a patty. Heat pan and add fat of choice. Put burger in pan (mine fell apart a little upon transference but reformed well). I started with the pan on high to brown the outside and then cooked the rest of the way on low, flipping several times until it looked cooked on the inside. Serve it up primal style with a heaping side of veggies. I broiled some zucchini and yellow squash matchsticks with olive oil and sea salt, and then drizzled some red vinegar on top when they were cooked.


2 Responses to “On falling off the cave-wagon.”

  1. Alisa October 14, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I think you did a great job getting back on the wagon. And the turkey patty looks delicious. I saw your blog from the foodie blog roll and I like what you have here.if you won’t mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget at the end of this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

  2. BellaBallestra October 24, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Oh man, you’re so healthy! I bought (and really really enjoyed) a box of mac n cheese yesterday…and there may be ice cream in my freezer…and I may have plans for pumpkin bread pudding in my near future…and I STILL may not have joined the Y….and I may be feeling like the new super hero Chubby McPudgerstine. Sigh

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