My Twenty Percent

7 Nov

One of my favorite aspects of the Primal Blueprint is the concept of 80/20—I am a serial cheater when it comes my diet, and having that wiggle room built in has not only made me feel more successful, but I’ve found that when I do slip-up, I am less likely to indulge the way I used to (namely, in humongous pastries). My more sensible slip up this week was some dark chocolate bark, which has already made its yearly reappearance in Schnucks alongside a multitude of chocolate Santas stuffed with marshmallows, caramel, or marshmallows and caramel. On Thursday, my slip-up was slightly less sensible. Let’s just say upon premature exposure to the Christmas spirit, my twenty percent grew 3 sizes.

The Riverfront Times hosted their “Best of St. Louis” party on Thursday at the City Museum. I’d picked up the copy featuring this list a few weeks ago, salivated over restaurant descriptions, and then promptly forgot about it. However on Wednesday night my mom entered me in a drawing for two tickets to the party, and the following night I was headed there with my neighbor, a fellow food-enthusiast. The party consisted mostly of advertisers and a hefty dose of boob (we were trapped in the front row of an unexpected burlesque performance), but in one room—one glorious room—there was food; food that was by definition, or at least invitation, the best St. Louis had to offer. I couldn’t refuse this golden opportunity, so I held my nose and force down the arancini.

Just kidding! I ate my ball of deep fried rice like it was planning an escape from my plate that very second. And I ate fried chicken, and a slider on a thick, brioche bun, curry over white rice, tacos al pastor on corn tortillas, salted chocolate caramels, and ice cream. I washed everything down with a pint of Schlafly Pale Ale.

Three days later, and Grok still has not stricken me dead with his lightening spear. Did I regret my decision to take my monumental leap off the primal path for one night? Not until about 2 am, when I was being kept awake by a horrible stomachache. Will ever I do this kind of thing again? Hell yes. This experience was completely unique despite, and because of, the food that I consumed. I may be trying to eat like a caveman, but I also live in the 21st century, and I love food—all kinds of food. For my well being, I have decided to eat primal-like, but that doesn’t mean I can’t occasionally relish in the innovation of a perfectly crafted dish simply because it contains rice.

Of course, I am by no means completely without cave-guilt over my grainy liaison, but I have been particularly good since then about sticking to primal foods. I’ve also been attempting intermittent fast, to no avail. I tried skipping breakfast on Friday, and was planning to eat two large meals between 1 and 7 o’clock, but by 11 I was ravenous and ate most of the lunch I had packed. On Saturday I ate an early breakfast, figuring I needed the fuel before working with middle schoolers that were coming to visit the lab (and boy did I ever), but then by noon I was starved.

I’m going to try eating a late, fattier breakfast and cutting out my usual fruit (a grapefruit or apple), to see if that can keep me full until an early dinner (between 5-6), and not eat for the rest of the night. Otherwise I may just give up that ghost. I know that IF is supposed to have a lot of health benefits, but I feel like the majority of the stories I’ve read are about IF helping with weight loss, which would also be my main motivation. And I’m not sure if I feel comfortable skipping meals to loose weight, which is why I’ve been eating when I get hungry rather than continuing to fast.

I think that so much of the Primal Blueprint, including components like IF, need to be attuned to each individual. IF might just not be for me, and I might just not have the self-control to turn down the best fried chicken in St. Louis. I’m not gluten-intolerant, and I haven’t previously noticed the effect of food on my blood-sugar level. I do know that I’ve felt healthier since cutting out grains, in a very qualitative sense, and that I am having fun cooking within these limitations.

Yesterday I was reading someone’s blog about cutting out carbs, which contained a lot of great recipes and information about nutrition. However, in one of their posts they went on at length about how if you need motivation you should imagine you have cancer that spreads if you eat any sort of sugar/gluten, or you should wear a blindfold and pretend to have been blinded by diabetes. As a lover of food, I can’t fathom why anyone would want to turn eating into a freakish biological slasher film. Clearly healthy eating does not always coincide with having a healthy attitude about eating. So thank you, Primal Blueprint, for allowing for my minor indulgences, even when they are not so minor, and for not saying that I will get cancer.

Chili-Lime Almond Butter Zucchini Noodles


Adapted from this recipe and this recipe
Makes 3-4 servings

2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
For the noodles:
1 large zucchini
Salt, pepper, olive oil
For the sauce:
1/4 cup smooth almond butter
1/4 lime, juiced
1 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tsp mince garlic
1 cup vegetable stir-fry blend
1/2-1 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tbsp water, until pour-able
Garnish (green onions, cilantro, almond slivers, red chile flakes)

Wash zucchini, cut of ends, and peel into long strips while rotating, to make “pasta”. Cook in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper until pliable and slightly translucent. Place in mesh strainer or colander to cool and press out excess moisture. Steam the veggies and place in same colander to dry. It’s important to get rid of the excess moisture or else the sauce becomes too thin. Combine noodles, veggies, and shredded chicken breast in a bowl.

For the sauce, combine all sauce ingredients in a small pot and heat over low, stirring until combined. Allow sauce to cool slightly and pour over chicken/veggies, tossing to coat everything. Garnish with whatever is on hand. The dish is way better cold, and continues to get more delicious each day that it marinates in the fridge, but I am impatient and so can vouch that it is pretty delicious warm as well.


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