Cake For Dinner

It’s Wednesday, I’m more than halfway through my working week (Did I tell you that I am working full time for the rest of this term? Well, I am. And it’s fine!) and I thought it might be a good time to give you an update on my progress with the Perfect Health Diet, amongst other things.

What’s working?

– The eight hour window for eating. Most days it’s down to the wire, and tonight was a tiny bit over, but DUDE. I had a banana loaf baking in the oven. As if I’m not going to wait until it’s ready to be eaten.

– The carbs. Tonight I ate a bowl of chicken broth with rice noodles before CrossFit, plus a couple of rice cakes with a bit of butter (a lot of butter) and I felt great while I was working out. My energy seems to be staying steady (I was a bit worried that the carbs would cause spikes in my blood sugar and leave me feeling flat and craving more carbs) and I’m generally feeling good.

What’s not working?

– The +25%/-25% rule for workout and non workout days. I just haven’t really figured out my baseline, so I eat when I’m hungry until I don’t feel hungry anymore. The first two days I ate about the same amount, but today I was ravenous and ate a lot more than usual. I guess this is one of those things that will take time to work out.

– No screen time within two hours of bed. It’s kind of working, I suppose, and I am getting a lot done in those two hours. I have cheated a little bit and made my laptop an exception – I have f.lux installed so that I don’t get too much blue light, and I don’t watch movies or anything. I just read a bit and do some writing or some work, like tonight.

I’m generally feeling good. The last 24 hours have been great, with lots of fun and exciting things happening. There was a package for Tyson at the front door when I came home from work, so I brought it in and forgot about it. Turns out it was a late birthday present for me, and now I am the proud owner of a ‘Best Wife Ever’ mug. Sweet AND accurate.

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Planning for The Perfect Health Diet

So, I’ve been reading ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. It’s a good read, and confirms a lot of my suspicions about certain foods. I was considering starting a Whole30 this week, but I have decided to give the PHD a try instead.

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Lazy Saturday

This morning was a nice one. I had a great time at Crossfit doing a fun partner WOD with lots of deadlifts (my favourite!), hit the greengrocers, took Louis (our dog) for a big walk, played around on the blog … but now it is time to get serious. I have a heap of vegetables, two kilograms of stewing beef, two kilograms of topside mince and a free range chicken to get sorted, AND it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, so I need to make a treat to take to afternoon tea with the family.

(This was me at Crossfit. Not. Image via crossfitimpulse.com)

Anyway, silliness aside, my menu for this afternoon looks like this …

Oven Braised Mexican Beef (Nom Nom Paleo)

Hamburger/meatball/meatloaf mix

Steamed vegetables

Chocolate Espresso Cake (Jill Dupleix)

Coconut Macaroons (Elena’s Pantry)

It looks as though my lovely new Mac Mighty knife and my trusty Kitchenaid mixer are going to get a decent workout today. Time to crank the music and get started!

Any suggestions for my cooking playlist?

A few benefits of bone broth.

In the general vernacular “broth” and “stock” are used interchangeably, but as an explanation of terms, a broth is made at home with bones and leftovers and a stock is a strict recipe used in commercial kitchens to maintain consistency. I’m talking about broth, mainly because once you understand the health benefits, how you flavour it is up to you.

Try to get the best bones you can. If you are going to go to the trouble of making a broth make sure you get healthy bones – organic grass-fed are the best. Yes, you can buy bones, you just have to ask at the butcher. Buying bones is an extra step, another hurdle created by the modern culture of pre-portioned, over-packaged convenience foods. In the good old days, people would buy meat on the bone and use it all to make stock, broth, soups and sauces, so as not to waste anything (and reap the health benefits on the side). I know it may seem crazy, but the best things don’t come easy.

It’s delicious.

Usually that’s enough for me to advocate the consumption of real food, but in this case, the further I look into bone broth and the more I experiment with drinking it, the more I realise how amazing it is. You can make your broth from all types of bones including chicken, fish, veal, beef, lamb and venison (the list goes on). We generally stick to chicken and beef. Adding different flavours to the broth also keeps it interesting (like Pho spices, Thai hot and sour) although we generally stick to the classic method, allowing us to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of how different bone tastes.

Broth makes your joints feel smooth.

I try my best to not take any supplements. But when I do, it is because I’m experimenting with an increased dose of something, and if I’m getting results from it, I’ll look for it in real food. The beauty of bone broth is that it contains so many vitamins and minerals that it’s a one stop shop. In particular – glucosamine. Ever heard the expression ‘you are what you eat’? By slowly simmering the bones you are releasing glucosamine which is crucial for collagen health in your ligaments, tendons and the ends of your bones.

It’s nutritious.

Sally Fallon writes in Nourishing Traditions (1999): “Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate. Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium, into the broth.” Basically, because it’s a liquid form is is easily absorbed by your body and keeps you hydrated.

There many more health benefits to drinking bone broth, I’ve only listed a few that important to me. After some experimenting I’ve found that the best time for me to have a cup is about half an hour before Crossfit. The key is making enough to last a week or two and not over doing it, one cup is enough per day. If you want to find out why you shouldn’t drink too much Paul Jaminet writes on the topic in “Perfect Health Diet” (2012).

How to make beef broth.

First buy enough bones to fill the largest pot you have. We generally buy 3kg.

Lay the bones out on trays and roast in the oven, about 180 degrees for about 1 hour (maybe longer, you want them brown all over but not burnt).

Raw Bones

Peel, wash and chop carrots, celery and onion and sauté in the pot you are going to use for the broth. While the bones are in the oven.

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Next add one head of garlic, some thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf and a couple of pinches of salt. Sauté.

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Add about half a bottle of red wine and let it reduce to about half or a third.

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Add your roasted beef bones and a couple of pigs trotters (for a little extra gelatine and flavour).

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Fill the pot with water and bring to a fast simmer. Turn your broth down to low and let it slowly simmer for somewhere between 42-72 hours. Keep topping up the pot so the bones are always covered and it doesn’t reduce too much. Take the broth off the stove and strain into a bowl, let cool on the bench for a while (so it doesn’t bring the temperature of your fridge up) then put it in the fridge. This allows the fat to rise to the top and set, this is so you can pick it off easily and throw it away or keep it for roasting potatoes.

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From here you may need to freeze some, but in our house there’s not much point.

Very Important: When you are ready to drink your broth you’ll need to add salt. I just heat up a cup in the microwave and add salt to taste. After a while you’ll know if it’s right or not.

If you want any direction on how to make variations or soups just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Turning 31

Tonight I am cooking dinner and reflecting on my day yesterday. It was my 31st birthday. I was overwhelmed with texts, emails, cards, phone calls and Facebook messages, sent with love from near and far. I went to Crossfit in the morning, and my abs are reminding me that I worked hard on my GHD situps. I’m glad I didn’t do them the day before my birthday.

My mind drifts to the food I am cooking, and I realise that most of the vegetables I am preparing are from the organic box my parents gave me as a birthday gift. I am roasting potatoes in the beef tallow that came from the bio-dynamic beef bones we use for stock. I am cutting up tomatoes from my family’s organic farm using the Mac Mighty knife that Tyson gave me yesterday morning and remembering last night’s special birthday dinner at Rockpool.

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I show love to myself by eating as well as I can and making my body strong. I make my body strong so that I can have the energy and strength to show love to others. Food and love. Love and food. What else is there?