In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.


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Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Yes, I’m eating dairy again. No, the world didn’t end. It’s just once more congested. Of course correlation does not prove causation… But I’m still cutting back on dairy even if I’m not removing it all together.

Future post to follow on diet choices and sustainability, i.e., when drinking milk makes more sense than the alternatives, sinus congestion be damned.

In other news, I think I’m going to open a restaurant, called Free. With a purely allergen free menu.  We will serve, water, air, and lettuce.

Last but definitely not least, I made a thing! Tentatively calling it “Chili Pie with Corn Free Corn Bread.” My first experiment using plantains as a corn / cornmeal substitute.

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

I haven’t found the perfect recipe to use as a starting point for a plantain “Corn Free Corn Bread” so I’m just making this up… probably needs a few more revisions before sharing the results. Which is to say, I enjoyed it but the less adventurous folks in my house did not think it a viable substitute for Jiffy Mix.

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Facing Food Myths

Dairy Free: Day Thirteen

I have made it this far, but I’m disappointed. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s the honest truth.

I expected something amazing. Like when I cut grains and legumes from my diet, I could tell the difference almost immediately.  Beginning with the immediate disappearance of the stomach upset and digestive issues that I’d always assumed were natural. (Wait, burping and heartburn don’t have to be daily torture?)  Continuing with obtaining a healthy weight and staying there effortlessly. (Even if I’m still not happy with my “healthy weight”, but that’s another story.) 

But deep down inside, I always believed I wasn’t doing all I could. I realize now I’ve harbored a cherished myth that if I could just eat perfectly, all my health complaints ever would go away. Whatever “perfectly” means.  When I was a teen, my mom would go through health food diet fads with pamphlets and articles and flyers and cookbooks all about how diseases could be cured and prevented, vision would revert to 20/20, acne cleared up, minimal body fat and best of all no menstrual period (typed like a chick, eh?) – all just from eating the perfect diet. (I.e., whichever diet made them money!) I thought I got so close with the “paleo” diet, and closer still when I cut further back on processed and natural sugar. But I just couldn’t let go of the dairy.

And now I have, and it’s still not enough. 

Oh don’t get me wrong. I can breathe – and that’s very important! In fact, I was able to stop taking my antihistamine / pseudoephedrine cocktail two days after I cut dairy out. 

But so many dairy-free food bloggers tout the amazing effects they experienced removing the milk products, I had hoped for… well… more!

Friday night, after 15 days, I will reintroduce dairy as dramatically as possible. Pizza with mozzarella and pepperoni on an Against the Grain crust (which is made largely from cheese).

Against The Grain Gourmet - Grain Free Pizza Crust

Against The Grain Gourmet – Grain Free Pizza Crust

A brief shout-out to Against The Grain Gourmet for offering a pizza crust, in addition to their selection of frozen pizzas!

If this dairy allergy of mine isn’t psychosomatic, symptoms should come flooding back in a wave of Immunoglobulin E. We’ll see if there’s anything besides the sinus congestion that I didn’t even realize was missing until it is reintroduced!


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The Quest

Congratulations to me!

I have survived a week of dairy free eating. Unless of course there was hidden dairy products in some processed food I consumed. But guess what? Grain-free, legume-free, and dairy-free really limits your processed food choices.

Plus, I found a workable substitute for my beloved daily Quest bar: behold, the Almond Butter Power Bar!

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Homemade Energy Bars

(How do food bloggers take such good photos? Topic for later I guess.)

The original recipe started with peanut butter, but I substituted almond butter to avoid the legumes. I think next version, I will use sunflower seed butter, to cut down on the overall amount of nuts, since sometimes I feel bloaty after eating too many nuts (almonds in particular).

These bars lack the gooey texture of the Quest bars, but the texture is pleasant in its own right – it has almost a granola bar crumbly thing going on.

Better yet, they aren’t overwhelmingly sweet like many paleo “energy bars” which are date-based.

Recipe to follow after I try one more round of tweaks. Because that’s what I do. Tinker with things.


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Dear Dairy

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Like two days ago, when I realized all this time I had been wrong. About eating Primal, seasonal allergies, and dairy products.

See, lo these many months ago when I adopted the “Primal” variation of what is known in the vernacular as the “Paleo Diet” I embraced it at least in part because of its leniency regarding dairy products. I luff my butter in my coffee in the mornings. I luff my homemade whole cows milk yogurt (and its healthy bacteria love me in return). I luff my scrambled eggs on Saturday mornings, cooked in butter and sprinkled with shredded cheddar. I luff most of all, my afternoon whey-protein-isolate-based Quest Bar, especially the Double Chocolate Chunk. And the Cookies & Cream.  And the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. How fabulous to have such a selection of grain-free, low carb snack bars!

(Not to mention, almost every recipe I’ve collected over the past year features cheese or butter or sour cream or yogurt or kefir in some form or fashion.)

And I thought that eating Primal would improve minor health annoyances such as seasonal allergies. After all, avoiding the “SAD” (Standard American Diet) would reduce inflammation in my system, so when the annual botanical orgy started up again in the spring, I would be just fine, thank you very much.

More like, it was BORED and DESPERATE for something to do, because my allergies went kah-razy. Tree pollen and mold spores oh my! I was one snot mess.  Like seriously. I was embarrassed to be at work because everyone thought I was sick. Watering eyes, unable to breathe, debilitating sneezes – just as miserable as miserable can be. Even on my trusty ol’ cetirizine-D, which I finally weaned myself off of months ago, couldn’t make a dent in my symptoms.

And then… I remembered. I had noticed in years past, that if I had seasonal allergy flare ups, any dairy product made it worse. Even “non dairy” products would slam my sinuses shut – milk proteins, for example in the form of calcium caseinate are added to juices to “fortify” them with calcium.

Two days ago, I abandoned dairy in every form. Even most brands of ghee have trace casein and whey in them.  I’m trying coconut oil in my morning coffee concoction again (some morning coconut oil and I do NOT get along), cooking more with lard, store bought coconut milk yogurt (though I’ll try making my own this weekend), and sprinkling my scrambled eggs with, well, nothing.  Sigh.  Still not sure what to do about my afternoon snack though. Nuts make me bloaty, fruit and most “raw” snack bars are too sugary, jerky is so high in sodium (and many store bought brands have corn and wheat in it, yuck) and nothing, but nothing, is as satisfying as a Quest bar anyway.

But – I was right. Yay? My allergy symptoms have subsided back to an annoyance rather than nearly debilitating like they were just a short while ago. Just like the decision to eat “Primal” / “Paleo” in the first place, I wouldn’t have stuck with it, except that I could see and feel the results.

Will our heroine survive her self imposed dairy abstinence?  Will she come to terms with the fact that when she decided long ago to “cut back on dairy”, that actually meant absolutely nothing?  Stay tuned!


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The Voices In My Gut

I’ve followed a “Paleo”-ish eating style (hate the word diet!) since July of last year.

Not quite a year later, I still get stark reminders of why this hack “works” for me.

My occasional relapses demonstrate that I am most likely gluten and corn intolerant, based on the extreme intestinal pain I suffer from the smallest amount of these products. Did you know most grocery store bought baking powder has cornstarch in it? I found that out the hard way! 

But there are plenty of grain-based but gluten-and-corn-free food options out there. We researched GF beer, and found a one-to-one wheat flour substitute based primarily on rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour, all of which seemed OK for me in previous tests.  

Yesterday, to celebrate our 12 year anniversary and welcome weather warm enough for eating on the deck, we binged.

The menu for the evening: 

“Appetizer” beer tasting
Grilled chicken with Sweet and Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Grilled zucchini
Roasted mashed cauliflower
“Buttermilk” biscuits (I actually used kefir because that’s what I had) using the recipe from the Namaste Foods website 
Further beer tasting
Guilt Free “Nutella” Cheesecake (which didn’t look anything like the photo, because I think my homemade hazelnut butter didn’t turn out right!)

Mmmmmm. Starches, sugars, and carbohydrates, oh my!

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep nor stay asleep for long once I finally got there. Every time I rolled over I woke up completely.

This morning, my intestines are blown up like a balloon! Or roadkill!

I would have liked to fast today, but I’m still taking a prescription for an unfortunate encounter with poison ivy – the bottle label commands “TAKE WITH FOOD.” So I’ll be throwing cultured and fermented foods at my digestive tract with most meals, taking prebiotics and forcing fluids. Oh yeah, and avoiding all the starches, sugars and carbohydrates…

…right after I finish this slice of cheesecake!


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Beefless Burgundy

Dinner tonight: Gardein Beefless Tips, served “Burgundy” style.  Delish!  Serves two.

1 bag Gardein Beefless Tips
2 T olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c onion
1 c broth
1/2 t salt
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t thyme
heaping T flour
3/4 c dry red wine 
salt, ground pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Sautee onions until translucent; add mushrooms and sautee until ‘shrooms are almost however done you happen to like mushrooms.  Add Beefless Tips.  Add broth, reserving 2 T.  Add herbs and red wine.  Turn beefless tips frequently to cook thoroughly.  Mix the reserved broth with flour until all the flour is dissolved, then add to the pan.  Stir until the flour slurry is mixed throughout the pan.  Simmer until sauce thickens, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  Serve over rice or noodles with vegetable of choice.  Try not to devour the entire amount – it needs to be enjoyed with someone else!