Tag Archives: health

Nothing to Hide?


What do you think?  A relative of mine sent me the above little soft rap selection.  I watched it, and listened to the words (which I could understand) and also to the message (which I could also understand.)

My relative is somewhat of a Libertarian…I am not.  But whether we are of either extreme or the middle, we may very soon have something to hide, simply to save our necks!

How unreal was it historically when someone raided the house where Anne Frank and her family were hiding like trapped bunnies? It happened, and it happened in my lifetime.  People were truly heroic to try to hide so-called “enemies of the chosen race”, because not only would Nazi power find their hidden friends, but they would be thrown onto the same wagons and carted off to places they would not return from.

This really happened.  How did the land of happy hausfraus and joyful beergardens and Father Christmas and all that become a land fraught with fear and the smoke of incinerators disposing of millions of dead bodies?  It was political.  It was a mind game.  It was a gradual power play that poisoned people’s minds and then scared them into clustering into the safest group possible to save their lives. It required a blind eye.  It required a nation of blind eyes.

Most of the people saluting the Nazis were people with blind eyes simply to save their own souls from the concentration camps.  They had better salute religiously, especially if they were not endowed with blue eyes and fair skin.  Dark haired regular Germans were especially avid about those salutes, I reckon.

There are not a lot of people on a list in my house.  I don’t have a campaign going on anything really.  I have a house full of people with differing opinions,  but we don’t defend them with vitriol or guns.  In this house there are both pro and con about a lot of issues.

But we love the truth.  All of us do love the truth, and fear the power of blind-eyedness.

I have this creepy feeling that I am being set-up…like a “pigeon-drop scheme“, where a con-man (or woman) befriends me and tells me how things are going to improve.  In the process, this clever person gets to know me very well…my fears, my interests, my address book, and my vulnerabilities.  They find out what I value most. Then they tell me to trust them with some of it. Then you know how the pigeon-drop scheme works.  Like a perverse “Sting.”

What the Nazis found was that people valued the souls of people and the lives of family more than anything. More even than freedom. Enough so that a LOT of hiding was going on in Germany.  Blondes with blue eyes and pale skins hiding brunettes with dark eyes and olive skins.  Words kept inaudible.  Identification papers were forged, or destroyed.  Paper trails were a deadly thing. For a while people simply went away in carts and never came back.  Gradually the truth came out.  Unbelieveable truth.  And people hid their eyes and let it continue.  It was only for “others”, this decimation machine.  They hid within the cloud of safety saluting the power people, to save their souls.

Are we afraid of such a thing happening to us here, now?   We are not afraid.  We, after all, are AMERICANS!  Proud, lucky, cocky, spirited citizens of this Free Country where we stand on the Constitution of the United States of America.

Look at what we stand on.  We are standing on an ideal that is eroding out from under us.  We are in a house build on sandy soil.

And there are termites in the posts and beams.

And we don’t want to see them.  We have our outer-images down pat, and are buoyed up with the attitude and lingo of free people, with rights, and privileges, and good lives.  We have nothing to hide.

But we are happily blind to what is happening to our country right out loud, in plain sight, in broad daylight.

People curse the truth rather quickly when it tears a hole in the underground activity.  We are so blind we don’t know a traitor from a hero.  The blind people are all running around looking for something to believe– for which speaker to trust.  Chaos is what happens when principles are broken down.

WE have nothing to hide. But THEY have something to hide.  The truth is coming out.  Let it!

We had better believe it and get busy.  It’s getting too late quickly.

Old Swimmer


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EGGS AND MARROW BONE….. “will make your old man blind”, so the song goes.

There was a guy I knew back in the days of guitars and coffee shops who loaned me a recording of old English folk tunes.  One of the songs has never quit hanging around in my memory.   It was sung in a minor key, and with gravity.  Preferably with a sort of pub voice and simple accompaniment. Here’s the link to lyrics, if you want to read about an old lady who was two timing her husband, and how it all worked out…


It came to me today as I was making soup, of course.  Marrow bones.  And Eggs.

These two things are at the base of all my Paleo/primal activities.  Lots of eggs, and lots of bone broth.

Funny, isn’t it, that I am not getting blind?  I think that fellow in the song must have been getting sharper eyed and very smart with his paleo diet.

Hah.  MeJane

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PALEO: Ummm…CHARD for breakfast ???

Rainbow Chard has to be the most artistically attractive leafy thing in the Organic Greens bin at my store.  How, when I enjoy chard anyway, can I resist?

This stuff is eye-delicious even before you eat it!!

But a day or so went by, and suddenly I realized the beauty would soon be limp if I didn’t snap to it and prepare it.

At first I thought of the old Dutch tradition in our family of steaming it in its own droplets from the rinsing, and then chopping it, returning it to the pot with some salt, pepper, nutmeg and a slosh of cream.  MMMMMmmmmm.   This is divine to my memory’s taste buds.

BUT, there was also this notion that I should do something with the overly tenderized (left the crock pot on low overnight-oops) chicken mélange that tasted marvelous, but was no longer any particular shape.  The bones were all distributed among the various veggies in the bone broth I had added.  What to do with THAT?

Aside:  Creating beautiful tastes in the kitchen is really very very like making a painting.  Many artists also revel in cookery I have found, and I have found out why over the years.  You keep nurturing the ingredients into more alluring arrangements, just as you do colors on a canvas.  You check all along the way to see how this works, and whether that would make it even better,  and then you decide it needs a dash of this or a squirt of that.  Same identical process, but you use your tastebuds and nose instead of your eyes.

So I began inventing by straining the juice out of my crockpot contents, and then weeded through the strainer finding as many bones as I could.  I took out veggies that were depleted, or otherwise not necessary, and saved the meat, shredding what was not already shredded.  There…I had shredded, savory chicken.

Then I looked up Stuffed Cabbage.   Wonderful recipes online, and I studied Jeff Nimoy’s great site carefully. His grandmother had some very good ideas.  (Jeff Nimoy’s  a pretty accomplished person, by the way. Check it out.)

So, would it work if I used Rainbow Chard instead of Cabbage?  And chicken instead of beef?  And did a few more maverick changes to fit the contents of fridge and cabinets?  I wrote to Nimoy to ask, but couldn’t wait for an answer.  Just went out and DID IT!

It did work, I am delighted to report, and the result was a sublime mess of chicken and freshly added onion and herbs and some curry and a few chopped tomatoes, and an egg… turned into a sort of meat loaf by squishing with my bare (washed) hands!  (like Nimoy’s grandma).

Then I blanched the chard,  snipped out the hard part of the stem so I could wrap easily, and just rolled meat blobs up like babies in the lovely limp chard leaves and nested them snugly like babies into a greased loaf pan.

I made a sauce from the juices I had strained out of the crock pot.


. Did I mention that the juices were comprised of delicious broth from some session or other that I pried out of my freezer?  The very best thing I learned in the past twelve months is that home-made broth/stock is the most wonderful thing in the whole kitchen. Always there if you keep that stock pot faithfully simmering carcasses of meat meals. I just jam baggies of broth into the freezer knowing I will use them freely as I need them, and they never seem to last all that long. My favorites are the bone broths I wrote about earlier in this blog, but simply simmering any carcass, or even a combo of meat and/or chicken and/or pork and/or bacon with some great greens and turnips and celery and onions and garlic….you get the idea…. makes wonderful stock that is at the ready for gravies, clay pot creations, crock pot creations, and spiking up a sauce.


Turn on the oven to 375F and then  I mix a tablespoon of arrowroot powder with about a quarter cup of the cold juice in a cup, and set aside.

With the left-over bacon fat from this morning with some olive oil added, I lightly sauté some chopped onions and garlic, throwing in my favorite savory dry spices and a bit of grated ginger.

When the herbs are wakened up, I splash in about a quarter cup of my favorite Vendage Pino Grigio dry white wine and scrape up the scrimptums.  Then I follow with the juice I had strained, and stir it in and bring to a simmer.

Then I add some diced tomatoes and juice (I’d have used sun dried tomatoes if only I had ‘em), and the juice with arrowroot powder mix.   Stir, and watch to a simmer, and then watch a while longer while it begins to thicken.

Taste, correct seasoning, and then you have sauce to dip over your lovely little stuffed chards.  Pour it all in.

Aside: I impulsively tucked in lumps of fresh mozzarella that I happened to have.  Any cheese would be a nice touch, but no cheese would be necessary.

Covered the dish with foil, and placed it in a larger baking pan with a rack in it putting about a half inch of water in the bottom pan.  This was to temper the heat so no tender chards would burn.

About half an hour later, I turned off the heat.  Left it in there to settle until the housemate turned up, and we feasted with groans of delight.

About the chard for breakfast?  Hey, I was famished this morning when I got up, and I seized upon two of those babies to have with my breakfast coffee.  Wonderful!!  Really such a wonderful thing. Heated in the microwave in a bowl, it was even better than my usual meaty, cheesy omelet.


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PALEO: About Exercise and Sugar Substitutes… an eye opening article in mainstream press!


Choosing a Sugar Substitute:

Just a share.  MeJane

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PALEO: Dim Sum is the Total of Dim Parts (groan)

Just a silly pun, but I have been thinking of things served in various dishes at the same meal, and was again reminded recently of the kind of eating-out that entails lovely Asian specialties that come in different colors of serving vessels which are then shared by everyone at the table, and the bill is calculated after the meal by counting up how many of each colored dishes have been accumulated.

I always thought, as a child, that eating hors d’oevres all day would be much better than sitting down for a meat, veggie and starch typical dinner.

Well I am totally amazed that what I wished for  is accessible and acceptable for me!  Paleo lends itself to canapé style delivery, and the ingredients lend themselves to making various small savory treasures that can be lifted from the plate and popped into the mouth, often in one bite.

Celery boat with herbed cream cheese and smoked salmon

Several nights ago I raided the fridge.  What was in there?  Well not a whole lot of anything, but plenty of small left-over parts and pieces.  Paleo Dim-sum just waiting to be served!

Half a cup of smoked salmon,  half a package of creamed cheese,  a few slightly tired celery stalks, three semi-fresh scallions, part of a packet of baby spinach, part of a packet of Chinese pea-pods,  bits of green pepper, a few olives, — you know the kind of thing I am talking about.

So I was instantly in Inventor-mode.

What would be the most wonderful substance to mount a morsel of smoked salmon on?  Creamed cheese mixed with herbs and scallions and maybe some dill and/or celery seed, that’s what!  What to put it on that’s NOT a cracker?  How about some celery boats?  How about adorning each boat with a dash of paprika and a sprig of that parsley that volunteered in a planter on the porch? Or a slice of brined cucumber. ( Cucumber that is slightly past crisp can be revived in a salt and vinegar brine and be delightful. Add some dill, or celery seed.)

Okay.  Put it together and arrange it on a dish—wow, how fun is that? Finger food.

Then there were the lovely peapods (legal because they are mostly pod), and some leftover asparagus, some onion, and some other bits and pieces of this and that… all of which I had successfully stir fried in the past.  Put black olives into that dish right at the end and it’s really quite nice. Put a bit of Wasabi or horseradish on the side for a nod toward the taste of Asia without resorting to soy sauce.  A fork or chopsticks should be supplied.

My third dish was a stab at Brussels sprouts pan roasted up with tart apple slices—a great combo, even if (like me) you are not rhapsodic about Brussels sprouts.  My housemate is, and she raved about this dish.  I used simple salt and pepper seasonings on this, but gave it a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a dash of paprika.  You want a fork for this bite sized treat.

The point is, we had enormously satisfying canapés for dinner (and beyond), and were not at all feeling deprived of starches and sweets because our tummies were very very content.  I put a small dish of those currently seasonal Bing cherries from Eastern Washington on the table, just for color.  Of course they were perfect for dessert.

Think what you “snip” while going by, or while making a meal and visiting the fridge, simply because you happen to really love it.  I snip pickling cukes very often—can’t resist snagging one while getting out the salad greens.  And I adore things like avocado slices and artichoke hearts, and olives, and yes, a piece of “crispy” from yesterday’s roast beef or chicken.

These ARE dim-sum, if you think about it.  Smorgasbord, buffet, appetizers, there are a bunch of names for this sort of gastronomical gem.

And if your fridge is getting full of odds and ends, think canapés for dinner!  Might work!  Sour cream or yoghurt makes for a saucier backdrop for savory bits of meat and vegetables. Dice bacon and fry crisp and incorporate into a spinach leaf rolled around some paté.  Roasted bits of carrots and celery and parsnip and pepper are so very luscious when you have added surprise herbs or vinegar, or some spicy mustard or fresh ginger slices to the mix.  And they are COLORFUL and appetizing.  Think antipasto, and think crudité and think — I love the Other French Word that is seldom used but so perfect for epicurean treats: amuse-bouches .

And people think Paleo/primal foodies are deprived!   Sillies.



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How Evangelistic Should Paleo Enthusiasts Be?

Escaping in droves

My most recent Old Swimmer post in another wordpress blog touched on the balance of appropriateness in another area of life,  talking about religion  and evangelists.   Of course the same sort of sweaty palms business comes up when one talks about politics.   There has to be a sensitivity factor observed, I decided. The matter of obesity and self-starvation is another of those very delicate issues.

The OBESITY issue and conversely, ANOREXIA issue is often, in fact, an urgent matter of life and death!!  And one of the triggers for people afflicted with either of these dangerous eating disorders is TALKING TO THEM ABOUT IT!  They already have a resident bullying inner voice hammering the message home. More bullying is counterproductive.

So I am interested in this as regards PALEO/PRIMAL matters because I personally played a part in an evangelistic crusade to help me (the targeted needy one) get better from a pretty nasty illness that my daughter perceived as related to my diet.  (of all the nerve!)

I was offended, and in fact, critical, of her new paleolithic approach.  She was getting thinner and thinner, and really worried me a lot.  I have another relative who went through a terrible time with anorexia– and she really did nearly die.  This thinness thing was frightening!

Not only that but she had her husband on the diet too!  Not only was he wrestling with blood sugar issues, but also with hypertension and heart concerns.  How could she, I wondered, expose him to such a drastic change without causing him even more trouble?  He got thin too, and even gaunt looking, to my eye, which was used to seeing him as a big, thick construction guy who was rather hyperactive (seems like energy at work)  and busy all the time.  My father was a type 1 diabetic and lived a very brittle life between insulin and sugar– often having diabetic shock and sometimes coma episodes.   My dad died of related failures; he was blind and a double amputee when he died.  And very thin.

So the reaction I had was one of alarm, and now they were on ME to adopt this crazy thing!

I didn’t have a weight problem, but I had been really really ill all winter, with digestive issues, gut issues, migraines,  very stiff joints,  and excessive fatigue and dizziness, among other things.  My whole body felt it– skin, teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, brain.   And my paleo proselytizer  wanted to feed me all the fatty stuff I’d been carefully avoiding, and take away my staple whole grain breads and Mediterranean pastas and my beans!  How in the world would I dare to try such a thing?

Well, we are used to a bit of proselytizing in my family, for reasons of people’s particular faiths, and we have done at least some of the following, each one of us:  doing the blah blah blah, receiving the onslaught of it,  running fast in the other direction from the campaign, being polite and resenting it silently, or loudly, shutting the proselytizer entirely out of our lives,  coming down on the annoying person with outrage and making a big family federal case out of it,  being the subject of critical relatives whispering since we apparently believed in this malarkey, or we were converted, and became evangelistic ourselves!


How do we successfully present anything that is of great value, no matter what  category it might fall under,  to people we care about whom we believe would definitely gain and not lose by believing us? And are prone to running in the opposite direction?

Famous Bible evangelist D.L. Moody is said to have evangelized aggressively, taking people by the lapels and shoving the gospel down their throats.  I wonder how many people ran fast in the other direction?  I know I would have steered away very fast. Though some people apparently respond to fierce confrontation, no one that I am related to does.

But my daughter the Paleo/primal evangelist was invested in my case because she really was worried.  And she persisted, with respect, but with a bunch of documented facts that finally drove me to my doctor to see if this was a legitimate kind of diet or a fad.   My doctor said it was legitimate and might really help me. I was surprised. Doctors and other health professionals are hobbled severely by regulatory entities and cannot speak out on “alternate” approaches without endangering their licenses.   (search google on “scientific discovery and regulatory obstacles” about  the limits imposed on medical professionals by their various governing bodies.)

Well!   It did and does help me, and my daughter is now my hero.

But my question is what is the best approach when sharing this good thing?  The carrot method, of course, is to make delicious food and present it to raves, and then say that it’s part of the new and healthier diet.  Also the promoter should be a picture of success– healthy and thriving.   But how intrusive can one be about this, and how do we handle rejection of our well-intended “infomercials”?

It’s not a matter of saving souls from eternal damnation, but it is similarly  important when there are serious health issues.  And the Paleo thing is not mainstream.  So how do we find data to back up our bizarre-seeming beliefs?  From Google,  but who sends us there? Evangelists!

Slamming the book on people’s heads is not appropriate, of course,  and arguing over the dinner table isn’t either.  I am still put off by my daughter’s exercise suggestions…it’s just not “me” to commit to exercising on a definite schedule.   I have asked her to shelve that campaign for the time being. She heard and is cutting me some slack.

So the “let’s all get on the bandwagon”  thing doesn’t work with me. Show and tell is better, if it’s not ostentatious.

Some people will respond to group support (classes or clubs)  in issues like these, loving the social aspect and mutual encouragement.  Others will work on it individually and say little to friends;  just decide and do it.

Here’s what I think works best:

As in any other sales persuasion pursuit, you have to read the person you are trying to persuade.  You have to know when to talk about it and when to be quiet.  You have to listen, and wait.  And show and then tell.  And wait.  And keep the door open for more opportunity.  And share good things to eat.  And enjoy your own new health in ways that show.

People will pay attention to a person enjoying the fruits of a healthy regimen simply because they see how much it has made that person’s life better. They will begin to crave the rosy complexion and sparkling eyes and fit body, and want some of that for themselves.

Just like any other kind of evangelizing, you live what you have come to believe.  The rest will follow as the path is laid open.  Letting free-will do the real work, it’s a matter of sharing good data and then getting out of the way. Then giving boosts when someone seems to be ready to try it.

That’s what got MeJane to make a decision to enter in and try it for herself.

MeJane…much healthier and happier now.  :)

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PALEO: Coconut Fatigue and Another Type of Reduction

Not Coconut again!

Not Coconut Again!

Some people think coconut needs to stay in pies and macaroons.

Me. That’s who.

I really am not my kama’aina daughter…just a plain ha’ole who likes occasional tropical delights, but not South Sea Island-tasting food as my only choice!

So, my limited start-off pantry consists of Coconut Flour, Coconut Oil, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Water. There’s Almond Meal in the fridge, and a small bit of Arrowroot flour tucked in a drawer in a baggie. I do have raw honey and some real maple syrup.

I like soup. (Thank goodness I don’t have to saute soup components in coconut oil, though I did try it. Not for me, I decided. Pure Olive Oil is what to use, or bacon fat.) Soup, or “stewp” is a great start, since a lot of these protein-rich meats and also the soupish greens have been in my diet for a long time. What I have done is toss out the beans and pasta and potatoes and barley. Easy.

My housemate likes a bit of dessert. Well, I like ice cream, but now dairy has so many recommended specs that I can’t find it in my store, and I am just abstaining because I cannot eat ice cream without eating way too much. But I like to have a bit of nummy stuff around to quell that lonely feeling I get at about ten pm when I used to go get my too-much-ice-cream “snack.” And my housemate thinks I am absolutely wonderful when I make something cake-like to share. Orange cake is okay made with coconut flour. But ALL cakes? It’s pretty powerful stuff, and I say no, not for all cakes.

The best person to complain to about this is my daughter who is the one who got me “converted” to this new lifestyle. She has a big household full of avid eaters who are eating Paleo style with her out of choice, not conversion. She is such a talented cook no one who lives in her house wants to ever eat elsewhere, including her husband who hurrys home for “real food”, and a niece whose specialty is being a chef at a “normal” nice restaurant. (you know, baked potatoes and pasta and chips and fries and pies and fresh bread? Remember?)

The niece comes home for meals even though she could eat anything she wants at that restaurant for free!

So I ask my daughter how to avoid coconut these days. And she serves me a nibble of chocolate cake while answering my questions. I am in love with this chocolate cake. Know what’s in it? Coconut flour!

Anyway, even though that cake gets away with it, some things just don’t and so she is now making me aware of various kinds of flour-like substances that can stand in for coconut flour. I think I am trending toward custard or pudding cake rather than the more traditional crumbly kind. But I have added that chocolate wonder to my list, and my housemate is WILD about chocolate, so she will be elated.

My shopping list is growing with various foreign-name types of agents whenever I have questions like this, and I am becoming a quasi-scientist with the info she passes along about which thickeners are okay for hot cooking, and which are better for cool cooking. Information about oils and dipping sauces that can stand in for more familiar ones. There’s a great sub for regular soy sauce, which is of course based on a starchy legume (soybeans) and is off the OK list. Thank goodness there are Asian foodstores near here where one can get fermented sauces which take away most of the ill effects of the starch and can be used without worry.


There is that better-than-anything way to thicken a sauce or gravy–reduction! It’s a chef thing from the old days of ordinary cooking.

When I added some bone broth (oh boy, that recipe a few posts back made such elegant stuff!) to some slices of roast beef in the pan recently all I needed to do was let it simmer down a bit and it WAS GRAVY. The bone broth is already gelatinous, and just evaporating the water did the trick without adding any starch whatever!

What an elegant fast dinner! You get the slices from the freezer, and let them thaw. You also get a frozen baggie of your bone broth (first or second run) out of the freezer and stick it in the microwave for a minute or so to start it thawing. You put some pure olive oil in the heating pan, along with a blop of butter (at least I do), and get it just hot enough to brown fresh garlic and chopped onions and to wake up the dry herbs you love. Then you pour in a quarter cup of pinot grigio to scrape the bits up with. Then in goes the bone broth. You get it simmering and slip in the beef slices. You let it slowly become a gourmet meal! When the broth has become a sauce, you are ready to dine. Add a nice veggie salad and you’re a happy camper.

How easy is that? Be sure to make seconds. You’ll want them.


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