Friday, 31 January 2014

Sweet-Talking the Butcher

...but still no freebies!!! ;-) Just kidding. But it did get these lovelies for a pound or so. I know it is a bit unorthodox to mix the animals, but I am in experimentation mode.

Shin of beef and pig trotters

I roasted them for about an hour, together with vegetables, then plonked it all into my pressure cooker. Hoping for some awesome stock, we shall see!

I had a taste of the marrow after roasting. I believe it was the first time I've ever had marrow (knowingly) and it was rather tasty, if very fatty. I will just have to get over the initial ickyness of eating the insides of an animal's bones...

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Stew for Breakfast

In preparation for the Whole 30, starting in two days (gulp), I have been trying some new breakfasts. This is the one from this morning. Left over beef stew, heavy on the chilli, with eggs and avocado. Filling and yummy.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Pork Adobo Tuition

While in the Philippines, we really enjoyed the local cuisine and we probably ate adobo six or seven times during our ten-day stay. We had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, even a luxury version at our friends' wedding. Lucky for us, our newlywed Filipino friend Kate agreed to teach us how to make it this weekend. While not strictly paleo (due to the soya sauce), this is a tasty and filling stew that almost makes itself. That's how hands off it is.

Serves 4-5

1 kg pork belly

5 crumbled bay leaves
3 heaped tsp minced garlic
100 ml soy sauce
200 ml cane vinegar

Filipino soy sauce and cane vinegar
Cut pork into 1 inch cubes and marinade for c 15 minutes.
Pork in marinade
Drain the meat and reserve the marinade. Fry the meat in a large pan until the fat starts to melt and the meat browns a bit. Pour over the marinade, turn down the heat and cover with a lid. Simmer covered for c 1 hour, until the marinade has absorbed into the meat and the liquid in the pan is magically clear.
Pork adobo in all its deliciousness
Serve with vegetables of choice.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Holiday Workout

Looking for any opportunity to squeeze in a workout, we found a novel way of utilising the infinity pool on our recent trip to the Philippines..tough I know!

Using the wall of the lower pool, we could jump up and grab hold of the top of the wall (overhand grip) and then complete wide and close arm pull-ups. Obviously, due to being half submerged in water this meant that we were not pulling our full body weight, but increasing the reps and super-setting with 5-10 lengths of swimming between each set, meant a decent workout.

A typical circuit was:

10 x wide arm pull ups;
10 lengths front crawl;
10 x close arm pull ups;
10 x lengths breast stroke;
10 x wide arm pull ups;
10 x length back stroke;
10 x close arm pull ups;
10 lengths front crawl;

Easy swim to warm down

We even managed to get other family members involved in some infinity pool pull-up action!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ode to the Pressure Cooker

One of the most useful things in my kitchen is the pressure cooker - I use it at least once a week. As mentioned before, I am always on the lookout for cheap cuts of meat and they invariably need to cook for a long time. And as much as I love the lingering smells of a four hour roast cooking away in the oven, I also like being able to cook these meats in as little as 45 minutes or an hour.

This week, my pressure cooker has already made three appearances, to make braised lamb shanks (, stock and pulled pork.

Pulled pork is a favourite in our household, luckily it is really easy. This is how I make mine:

1.5 kg free range pork shoulder
Ghee or fat of choice

Dry rub:
1 chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 tbs salt
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper

Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut off the crackling with a sharp knife and cook it separately for a yummy crunchy treat. Cut the meat into smaller, more manageable pieces (6 to 8). Toss the meat in the dry rub. At this stage, you can leave your meat covered in the fridge over night for more flavour.

Shake off some of the excess dry rub and fry the meat on all sides in small batches, either in your pressure cooker or in a separate frying pan. Pack the meat tightly in the pressure cooker. If you fried it separately, you can deglaze the pan and add that liquid to the pressure cooker. Then add any remaining dry rub and enough water to cover the meat 2/3. Lock your lid in place and bring to high pressure. Turn the heat down to a minimum to retain pressure. Cook for 1 hour then turn the heat off and let the pressure release naturally. Finally, spoon out succulent pork onto a platter and shred with two forks.
Serve with vegetables and some of the liquid from the pan. Make sure you keep the rest of the liquid to make some delicious soup!

The Curse of the Low Fat Lunch

What to do when the spectre of low fat-ness strikes?
You strike back with butter. Eat that!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Flight Fasting

Last week I "managed" to fit in two long haul flights, so I thought I would use it to get some fasting in. Fasting allows your body to repair and rejuvenate itself and can even help you lose a few pounds in the process, if you're keen on that. I was also hoping that my 13 time zone jet lag would be a little less beastly because of it, and I actually think it may have worked...

The key to being able to comfortably fast is to avoid messing with your blood sugar, hence I made sure to get in a huge breakfast with plenty of fat and protein and minimal amounts of carbs before the flight. The boys were impressed!

I reckon my colleagues' version with a 10 am beer was a little less optimal, ha ha.

My reward after 15 - 16 hours of fasting during waking hours (incorporating night time sleep into a fast is of course easier!) was room service.

Although I planned this particular fast, my usual approach to fasting is pretty haphazard. I simply use it as a handy way of avoiding crap food when on the road. If I don't find any decent lunch, I can easily go without food until dinner instead, or longer. This way I avoid eating things that will make me crash and burn a few hours later, often triggering an irritating cycle of hunger and pesky carb cravings that can stretch on for days.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Sprint Addiction

I don't always practice what I preach, I'm afraid. I was planning to go to the gym last night, but backed out when I saw the tiny cramped room. Doing weighted squats with someone's armpit in my face? Think not. This is a pic before the arrival of all my colleagues, but you get the idea....

Instead, I went for a run in the lovely surroundings, covering a golf course (some lovely grass to run barefoot on), a few side walks, and eventually turning up on the beach. And then I couldn't resist: I did some more sprints, this time in the sand.

It is perhaps a bit of a luxury problem, to get hooked on sprinting, but this is something I notice with a lot of exercise-related things. I end up wanting to do them every day because of the boost I get, then try to pace myself because I don't want to get injured, then fall out of the habit. This time I figured that Mosley will be my guiding light, as the sprints felt fantastic and there was no pain during exertion. Perhaps running up a hill and running through wet sand require the use of slightly different muscle groups?

Monday, 20 January 2014

I Love Leftovers

I love it when leftovers come together and are almost better than the first time you eat a dish. This time, we had roast chicken one evening and then I made this lovely dish for lunch: I stir fried some cavalo nero in coconut oil with ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I added the chopped up chicken, some fresh coriander and coconut milk. Easy-peasy and above all delicious!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Sprints, Yeah Baby!

I thought I would get in some High Intensity Training ahead of the flight today. Doing sprints first thing in the morning isn't exactly a pleasure, but I didn't really have a choice given the midday flight.

Warm-up along the canal:

Sprints up Primrose Hill, the hill was clearly mocking me:

The reward:

My paleo/ primal guru Mark Sisson advocates sprints every 7 to 10 days as a way to build stamina and strength, while others recommend doing it a lot more often for significant health benefits. However, I would personally mix it up between running, cycling, swimming etc if doing it more than once a week, as HIT running will involve significant impact on joints and muscles. Been there, overdone that, and it was painful.

I used to use business travel as an excuse not to exercise. Given that my choice of exercise usually involved jogging, it was easy to opt out for safety reasons. Now that I am more focused on "more bang for the buck" training, I have little excuse as long as there is a tiny gym or a short stretch of grass... Or a beach! Snorkeling will have to do this afternoon, though. :-)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Returning Home or "Borta Bra men Hemma Bäst"

While it is lovely to be away on holiday, there is also something special about coming back home with renewed energy. In Sweden we have the saying "borta bra men hemma bäst" (good to be away, but best to be at home), and I couldn't agree more. As always, my mind was on food long before we set foot in our flat: I sorted out our food delivery from Hong Kong international airport!

We left the fridge empty apart from some condiments, so I am almost starting from scratch in the kitchen. The first thing I did when we got home, was to get some stock going with the left over bones from the freezer. Next up was starting a fresh batch of sauerkraut. Then cooking some protein which can be used for either breakfasts and lunches. So far, I have steamed salmon fillets and roasted a chicken. Both will do really well with a salad or in a breakfast omelette.

Next on my list are burgers, liver pâté and mayonnaise. Can't wait!

Two day old sauerkraut bubbling away.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Taking Paleo on Holiday

Sun rise walk
The whole Paulsson Paleo gang, including Lil T is on holiday in the Philippines, soaking up some sun. This holiday, I am making a conscious effort to maintain some paleo principles. Otherwise, I find that it can be difficult to keep up healthy habits on holiday: it is so easy to use the holiday excuse, telling yourself that you'll restart again when you get home. Admittedly, I am using that excuse a bit (eating more fruit), but not to the extent that I normally would and I am feeling better because of it.

So, what bits of paleo have I taken on holiday with me? Well, because of the jet lag I have been waking up ridiculously early. So I have done some yoga at 6-7 am. How often do I get a chance to do sun salutations to the sun rise at home? One morning I threw in an early morning swim, another we took a lovely walk, interspersed with a short sprint. It feels good to get some exercise in before the day gets too hot.

I have also tried to keep food local and seasonal. This was as bit difficult in the big hotel in Manila where everything was available at the breakfast buffet. Once we travelled into the countryside though, we could see pineapple, papaya and bananas growing and being sold on the side of the road. I've been upping my intake of those lovely fruits each morning. It is also easy to tell by the prices on the menu which meats are local - we are eating pork, beef and chicken. I have spied salmon, Brazilian steak and New Zealand lamb on the menu, but why would I want to eat that?

I have been loading up on vitamin D, getting some direct sunlight on my pale winter skin... And then shying away into the shade to avoid burn and sun stroke.

Finally, I have been catching up on sleep. As a new mum, I am constantly sleep deprived. Being on holiday with baby watching back-up, I finally have the opportunity to nap. Forty-five minutes before dinner does wonders!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Sunscreen II

Update on the sunscreen avoidance scheme: it's going very well! 

We spent most of the day outside yesterday, but thanks to some nifty accessories (and plenty of shade) I have the start of a nice tan without even a hint of a sunburn. 
  • I bought a rash guard off Surfdome before I left, with long sleeves and a collar (originally worn by surfers to avoid rubbing themselves raw against their surf boards, but excellent for blocking the sun as well). Apart from being a bit difficult to strip off without flashing (it sucked off my bikini top), it's a gem for swimming and just lounging about in the pool or ocean.
  • Given my relative "largesse" compared to my Filipina sistas, I knew I'd struggle to find women's board shorts (again, originally for surfing, but double up well as sunblock). Ten pairs of women's triple XL later, I moved to men's, but to no avail. Luckily, I found a pair in the dusty resort shop in bright pink.
  • Three hats were packed as well, with my Yankees souvenir being the usual companion in the water.
  • Last but not least, I brought plenty of coconut oil to use as a basic natural sunscreen for those short walks into the sun. 
Given the type of holiday we're on (niece and grandparent-friendly destination wedding), perhaps it isn't too much of a feat to avoid the sun and stay unburnt. I am sure I would still have to resort to SPF 50 in the face if I were to opt for more intense water sports. Or perhaps try out the local T-shirt burka sported by the builders and boatmen?  

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Sunscreen, Sigh

I detest sunscreen. It's expensive, it fools you into staying in the sun for too long, it makes your skin break out, it leeches into the water (check out the lovely oily film it leaves on the surface and pity the fish...), it stains your clothes, yada yada. 

So for our trip to the Philippines, I am aiming for minimal usage and trying a rash guard instead. I swear, if they had had a burkini from Billabong, I might have bought that too.  

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Post-Christmas Circuits

Our first circuit work-out over the Christmas break was in the nearby woods where there is a small outdoor gym with pull up bars, sit-up table and shoulder press. It was a relatively simple workout focussing on core, leg and a small amount of upper body.

Circuit work-out included:

3km warm up trail run
10 x burpees
10 x overhead weighted squats
10 x box jumps
5 x chest to bar pull ups

AMAYC in 4 mins. We did the workout twice.

Cecilia pushing out some overhead weighted squats
The outdoor gym was perfect and we were able to forage in the forest for a recently cut log to use for the overhead weighted squats (not sure on the weight). We also used a rubber band (Christmas present for Cecilia) to aid with the pull ups.

The heart was racing by the end, but we both felt great afterwards.