Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Four Key Paleo Players

Here are four (4) people I recommend you get to know -  
Especially if you are just starting out. The information they provide is fantastic.

Dr. Loren Cordain – ThePaleoDiet.com – Dr. Cordain has a book called The Paleo Diet. He also has a book entitled The Paleo Diet for Athletes.

Mark Sisson – MarksDailyApple.com – Mark’s nutritional plan is called the Primal Diet (What is the difference between the paleo diet and primal diet?). He has a great book called The Primal Blueprint.

Robb Wolf – RobbWolf.com – Robb runs a great podcast called “The Paleolithic Solution.” 

Sarah Fragoso everydaypaleo.com Sarah has awesome recipes that we use regularly. Simple, cheap and delicious. She has a recipe book called Everyday Paleo

It'll eventually become a habit visiting these folks. Don't worry, it's a healthy addiction :)

"How to Live Wild in the Modern World"

Why Hunter-Gatherers?

How do you keep a wild animal healthy?

Say that you're a zoo-keeper in a zoo, and your job is to keep the animals happy and healthy -- what would you do?  Put them all in the same pen and feed them all dog chow?  No.  You would replicate each animal's natural habitat as closely as possible, and feed them the diet that they would naturally eat in the wild.  Feed raw meat to the lions, rodents to the snakes, and bamboo to the pandas.  Give the monkeys trees to climb and give the birds space to fly.  Make the penguin house cold, and the reptile house hot.  Animals thrive in their natural habitat.  They are healthier, often live longer, and fall sick less frequently. And the same general principle applies to human beings: to be happy and healthy, we should eat, move, and live in ways that resemble our ancestral habitat.

Re-creating the natural human habitat

But what is the natural human habitat?  For most of human history on this earth, humans lived as hunter-gatherers in the wild.  Wild humans, living in the wild.  And we were good at it.  We survived on flat grassy savannahs and on the sides of steep mountains, in parched deserts and in drenched rain forests, next to the sea and far inland, on the hot equator and in the eternal winter of the Arctic.

We accomplished all this without the help of domesticated plants and animals -- just using language, smarts, tools, and a little teamwork.  But ten thousand years ago, we started to tame the wilderness: the Agricultural Revolution.  The Agricultural Revolution ushered in a new set of foods into the human diet that previously had no place.  We domesticated wild grains, turning them into wheat, corn, and rice.  We domesticated wolves into loyal companions, and bred wild animals and raised them for their meat and milk.  And at the same time that human civilization began to flourish, individual human health began to worsen.

Hunter-gatherers were healthy

More and more evidence suggests that hunter-gatherers were tall, strong, and healthy.  And that shorter lifespans were due to violence, infection, and other causes of death that do not afflict modern people -- plenty of hunter-gatherers lived long lives free of "Diseases of Civilization", like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  This blog will cover evidence (for and against) the idea that modern humans would be healthier if we ate the types of foods that existed in the wild before the advent of agriculture.

Health should be simple

Here is a simple way to understand how to be healthy.  This is the shortest history of humanity you'll ever read.  Three words: wild, domesticated, industrial.

Wild: Humans lived as hunter-gatherers in the wild (~1-2 million years, including recent ancestors)

Domesticated: Humans domesticated plants and animals during the Agricultural Revolution, and lived as farmers and herders (~10k years)

Industrial: Humans built the industrial food system and started eating processed foods (~100 years or fewer)

Nearly all conventional health authorities recommend that you move from anIndustrial Diet (processed foods, soda, Pop Tarts) to a traditional Farmer's Diet(whole grains, dairy, organic). It's a good first step. I'm simply recommending that we go one step further back in time, to a Hunter-Gatherer Diet.

                          About John Durant

For the first 23 years of my life, I never paid a single thought to what food I put in my mouth. Not one. I had always been athletic, never had been overweight, and my health always seemed normal. But a year into my first desk job out of college, it increasingly felt like my health was holding me back. I had trouble staying awake in meetings, particularly after lunch. My energy would spike and crash throughout the day, and with it my mood.  My complexion was spotty and I put on a (couple) dozen pounds.     
So I started to search for a solution.  Not just a diet -- no one needs another weight loss diet.  And not another nutrition study that requires you to memorize the names of twelve anti-oxidants and learn Latin.  My brother sent me an essay by Art De Vany, who argued that we should take an evolutionary perspective on human health.  Humans are not fully adapted to modern foods -- processed foods are too new on the scene, of course, but so are the grains and dairy that entered the human diet during the agricultural revolution.  Similarly, our activity patterns have lost their intensity and natural variability. 
Interesting theory.  But the real test of any theory is whether it works.  If it solves problems.  And it did for me. More even energy levels, improved mood, better complexion, and the extra weight just evaporated.
Taking an evolutionary or paleo approach to health doesn't mean we know all the answers about what is healthy and what is not.  That's not the point.  The point is that we're moving in the right direction.  People are solving their health problems. 
And we're just getting started.
I was born and raised in the great state of Michigan.  I studied history, economics, and evolutionary psychology at Harvard, graduating in 2005.  Spent a year and a half learning to play Excel like a piano at a consulting firm in New York City. In 2007, I jumped ship for a tech start-up doing online advertising.  After NYT and Colbert, I landed a book deal -- so now I'm a professional caveman, I guess.  (Almost as cool as being an astronaut.)  I live in the wilds of Manhattan.

Follow John on Twitter: @johndurant
Like him on Facebook :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dry Rub Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

All I Can Say is - YUM. 

Dry Rub Burgers

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 - 40 minutes
Total: 50 - 55 minutes


1 ½ tbsp chili powder
2 ½ tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground white pepper
2 1/2 lbs grass fed ground beef (makes about 7-9 medium sized burgers)
sea salt to taste (optional)

Mix all dry rub ingredients together

Form hamburger meat into patties and cover both sides generously with the dry rub

Let the burgers sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes before cooking

Either grill or pan fry about 4 minutes each side for medium, less for rare, more for well

Sprinkle the sea salt on after burgers are cooked (optional)

We added a couple eggs to our burgers along with some avocado (DELICIOUS!) 

Zach's Burger
My Burger!

Sweet Potato Fries

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 - 40 minutes
Total: 50 - 55 minutes


2-3 yams
3-4 egg whites
garlic powder
ground black pepper
sea salt
olive oil
aluminum foil

Slice sweet potatoes (we did spears but you can do discs if you want)

Separate eggs and add seasonings (as much seasoning as you would like)  

Dip each sweet potato into the egg mixture and lay flat on a aluminum foil lined cookie sheet

Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle on more seasoning – this is key – and then sprinkle on a little sea salt.  

Bake at 350 for 30 - 40 minutes

For more crispy fries, turn the broiler on for about a minute


All the best --

Recipe from Sarah Fragroso

Friday, January 27, 2012

Bean-less Chili in the Crock Pot

PREP: 15 minutes 
Cook: 20 minutes - 6 hours 
(time varies - since you are cooking the meat before putting in the crock pot - you can eat right away or wait)
Total: 20 minutes - 6 hours

2 lbs of grass-fed ground beef
1 lb of spicy italian pork sausage
7-10 celery stalks diced
6 carrots diced
1 white onion diced
6 cloves diced garlic
4 TBS olive oil
1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes with juice
16 ounces of chicken broth
sea salt
2 TBS dried oregano
2 TBS dried basil
1 TBS cumin
3-4 TBS chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
grass-fed cheese (optional)


Saute veggies in olive oil for about a minute, then add meat and brown

Season the meat mixture with all the spices

Add the tomatoes and chicken broth to your crock pot

Cook on low for 4-6 hours to allow the flavors to soak in

Taste and add more seasoning if desired

Add grass-fed cheese to the top 


All the best --

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Another Easy and Delicious Dinner!

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Total: 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 bundle of asparagus

1 cup ham steak, cubed

Olive oil or grass-fed butter

Grass-fed cheese, shredded (optional. we used grass-fed sharp cheddar :D)

Salt and pepper

4 toothpicks


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Start a pot of boiling water. Once boiling, toss in your asparagus and blanch for about 1 minute. After the minute is up, remove from heat and set to the side

<-- Butterfly your chicken breasts and set them in a medium sized baking dish. 

Cube your ham steak (the recipe didn't call for it to be cooked but we decided we wanted to before cutting into it- if you want to cook before cubing, put in a skillet, let brown a bit on both sides and viola! Cooked ham steak! Should only take a couple minutes on both sides)

Take your asparagus spears and place them in your chicken (I cut our asparagus in half - but you can leave them whole)

Take your cubed ham and put them on your chicken breast

Add around a tablespoon of olive oil on top of your asparagus and ham in each chicken breast

If you decided to use cheese, add it to the inside of the chicken breast -- we tossed some on top too. Don't overdo it - a little goes a long way!

Close the chicken breast and hold each one with a single toothpick (try not to use colored toothpicks, they will color your chicken)

Salt and pepper your chicken before putting in the oven

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check your chicken after 20 minutes. 


All the best -- 

Source: Sarah Fragoso

Paleo Meatloaf

Easy and Delicious!

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 15 minutes


2 lbs grass-fed ground beef (we used regular ground beef)

1 cup almond meal

2 eggs

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

1 onion, diced (or minced onion)

3 cloves garlic (or garlic powder)

1/2 Tbsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix all ingredients in large bowl (be sure to combine thoroughly using your hands).

Place meat mixture into glass baking dish in the shape of a loaf (I made 5 small loaves- great for leftovers!)

Bake for 1 hour or until the meat is no longer pink in the middle.

Thanks Sarah Fragoso!


All the best -- 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pork Chops, Eggs Over Easy, Peppers and Mushrooms, Oh My!

In a Bind? Think Fresh!

So last night I needed a quick fix for dinner. I was in one of those moods where it was about 6:45 p.m., I had been out running errands and didn't really know what I wanted to eat. So I ventured to the grocery store without any idea what I felt like having. I walked by the veggies, then through the fruits and came to the meat. Then it hit me! 

PREP: During cooking
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total: Around 20 minutes


1 pork chop

1 small sweet potato (optional)

1 green pepper (you can grab any color)

1 package button mushrooms

2 eggs (also optional)

1 Tbs coconut oil or olive oil


Throw your pork chops into a medium sized skillet on medium heat and add your oil

Fry pork chops until done in the middle (around 8-10 minutes) 

While your chops are cooking, rinse your mushrooms and pepper and chop them up (any way you would like- I sliced the pepper and cubed the mushrooms). Keep your heat at medium

Also, while your chops are cooking, poke holes in your sweet potato (if you chose to grab one) and put in the microwave for around 4 minutes

After your chops are done, put them on a plate to the side. Use the leftover juice from the pork chops to cook your mushrooms and peppers in (you may need to add a tad more oil)

Saute the mushrooms and peppers until soft (about 6-7 minutes)

After the mushrooms and peppers are done - push them to the side of your skillet (to keep them warm) and add your two eggs. Cook to your liking :) I LOVE me some over easy eggs. 

When your eggs are done, put them on top of your pork chop and add the mushroom/green peppers on top of your eggs. 

Grab your sweet potato! (it will probably be done and sitting in the microwave by this point so don't forget about it!) 

The best thing to do when eating Paleo is to think fresh! 


All the best -- 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pecan Crusted Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Easy- Peasy Dinner for Two (with leftovers!)

This is the first time we made this amazingly delicious meal. It turned out to be pretty dang delicious! I was a bit hesitant about how the mustard/honey sauce would work out -- I shouldn't have worried at all! That's why you should always try something once- if not twice in your life. 

We got both of these recipes from Sarah Fragoso's recipe book. Her recipes are fantastic. 

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes 
Total: 1 hour

Serves 2 (with leftovers)


4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup spicy brown mustard 

2 Tbs honey

1 cup raw pecans 

1 Tbs coconut oil


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium mixing bowl, blend together the mustard and honey

Toss the pecans in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped

Pour the chopped pecans on a plate or in large bowl

Use a paper towel to remove any excess moisture from the outside of your chicken breasts

Take one chicken breast at a time and dip the chicken into the mustard/honey mixture and coat on both sides.  (This is the messy part!) You can wipe off excess sauce but I think if it looks like too much, it probably isn’t. The mustard/honey mix coats really well and keeps the chicken moist

Dip the chicken into the chopped pecans for both sides

Put the coated chicken into a greased glass baking dish (I used coconut oil- not melted)

Just in the oven!
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

PREP: 15 minutes
Cook time: *12 -20 minutes 
Total: 17-35 minutes

Serves 2 (with leftovers!)

*12 minutes if you have a pressure cooker- up to 20 minutes in the microwave


6 sweet potatoes 
(we used 5 potatoes because I brought one for lunch :))

1 apple, grated

3 Tbs ground cinnamon (I only used 2 Tbs. Sometimes cinnamon can be overwhelming)

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

4 Tbs organic or grass-fed butter (not pictured)


If using a pressure cooker:
Peel your sweet potatoes

Cut your sweet potatoes into 2 inch wide slices

Put sweet potatoes into your pressure cooker for 12 minutes 

After your potatoes are nice and soft, put them in a large bowl

If using a microwave:
Leave your peel on.

Poke holes into your sweet potatoes (I use a fork -- be careful not to injury yourself!)

Cook for around a total of 20 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on size of potatoes, how many holes were poked, etc. Check your potatoes after around 10 minutes.

When your potatoes are done, cut down the center (long ways)

-- Careful! Your potatoes will be skin-burning hot!! -- Zach uses a pot holder to hold the potatoes when doing the scooping - - do not cut the potatoes while holding!

Use a spoon to scoop out the sweet potato and put in a large bowl

Now back to regular instructions!

Add your ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter to your hot and soft sweet potatoes

Mash and mix away!


All the best -- 

Monday, January 16, 2012

BLT & BLT Salad

Nom nom nom..

This is a quick fix to anyone's hunger pains! We made these for dinner last night. 

PREP: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total: 10-15 minutes
2 large romaine lettuce leaves

1 large tomato

4 slices of bacon 

Start frying your bacon in a medium sized skillet. Cook until your preference of crispiness.

While your bacon is frying, pull a couple lettuce leaves off the bunch and rinse well. Cut off thick end of romaine. Pat dry with a paper towel or clean towel.

Cut your tomato into thick slices. 

Lay out your romaine lettuce and put a slice of tomato on one end of your lettuce and your finished bacon on top of your tomato. 

Fold the other half of your lettuce over the tomato and bacon. 

Viola! You now have a  delicious snack, lunch or dinner!

Serves 2

You can also throw in some turkey meat (from the deli- not prepackaged)! 

To mix it up a tad --  make your BLT into a salad! 

PREP: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes


6 slices Bacon

1 head Romaine Lettuce

2 tomatoes

2 Tbs dijon mustard

2 Tbs honey

2 Tbs olive oil


For the salad

Fry your bacon then chop. 

Slice tomato - to your liking.

Chop/tear lettuce. 

Toss with dressing. 

For the dressing
Mix mustard, honey and oil together in a bowl.

Serves 2

Toss some of that turkey deli meat (not prepackaged) on your salad too!


All the best --