Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Caveman Feast: E-Cookbook Review

Happy February 28th! Tomorrow is the beginning of meteorological Spring, but many of you are still feeling very winter-ish. Here in Chicago, we have finally experienced winter. Some of you in the Northeast have been constantly digging out from winter's mess for two months. Perhaps we should all become snow-birds and move to Florida. I hear there's plenty of cheap housing around Fort Myers (Cape Coral, anyone?).

Spring puts me in the mood to break out and try something new. And if you are familiar with my blog, you know I have recently had a revelation; many of my posts focus on this simple philosophy:

Ruts = Boredom -> FAILURE!

I often tie this to food choices or workouts. And today is no different. So how do you stay away from falling into ruts? Find something that forces you to be varied in your approach. When it comes to fitness, many of you know that CrossFit is based on variation to keep your body "guessing." And for many, it works. If you have recently completed the Whole30 program, I hope you have also discovered their semi-varied strength program, 603PTP. In fact, I'm going back to that in March to get ready for the Tough Mudder in May.

What else forces me to stay out of ruts...especially in the kitchen? Cookbooks! I love a good cookbook, and I have mentioned before that I have learned to enjoy the kitchen during the past 4 months of following a "paleo"-type lifestyle (No, I am not wearing animal skins and living in a cave; although, that sounds like an fun adventure). I have discovered some treasures: Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook, Well Fed, Practical Paleo, Eat Like a Dinosaur, & The Caveman Feast.

After buying these, my wife and I have had wonderful moments menu planning while flipping the pages (paper & virtual) to find new ways of staying out of the meal-time "ruts." One of my favorites to look at and flip through is George Bryant & Abel James' e-cookbook, The Caveman Feast. In fact, it was the first e-cookbook that I took a risk buying. I did not know if I would enjoy cooking from my iPad mini. I thought, "expensive electronics next to stove & range is not a good idea." But I am surprised by how much I like it and use it in the kitchen.

If you want to know more about George & Abel, you can find their stories, podcasts, and creations at these two websites: The Civilized Caveman and Fat Burning Man.

But The Caveman Feast is a simple compilation of all these things. Three specific things stand out that make me advocate for this cookbook & I believe every cookbook should have:

#1: Variety - The authors provide about 45 beef entrees, 10 pork entrees, 20 chicken entrees, 5 seafood entrees, and 20 breakfast ideas. And if that's not enough, they provide recipes for sides, veggies, rubs, dressings, and sauces to mix things up even more. And dare I skip the desserts? Can you say, "More than 40 grain-free desserts?" In fact, this is my go-to source for dessert ideas like Chocolate Bacon Bites. Yes, the authors are bacon-minded...a very good thing in my book.

#2: Beautiful Pictures - Every good cookbook should have pictures of their food that inspires you to make that same yummy-ness in your own kitchen. Who wouldn't want to go home and make these Blueberry Espresso Brownies tonight? Or wake up tomorrow morning and make this Simple Sweet Scramble? Needless to say, the pictures inspire me to cook.
*Photos courtesy of
#3: Simple Ingredients & Instructions - In order to make these foods, I need clear instructions that don't have me throwing dishes all over the kitchen (which I tend to do anyway). Each recipe is complete with straight-forward preparation & cooking instructions.

So here's my sales-pitch (something I'm not very good at). All this can be yours today for $19.95 . But before you buy it, please make sure you have something to read it on (preferably an e-reader with a color screen like an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone or Kindle Fire). A laptop or desktop computer will work also, but I doubt your desktop is on your kitchen counter. All you have to do is follow this link. (In full disclosure, yes, I do get a little kick back for referring you, and your help is greatly appreciated). Thanks!

Monday, February 25, 2013

"My School Farted..."

I have never had such a unique day in my profession as a Chicago teacher, and my faith in today’s youth at my school has been redeemed. Just as students were walking into school today, the hallways started to smell like gas. The fire department was called in, and the administration went into emergency-plan mode. About a third of the students (including mine) were directed to the Catholic church about two blocks away. We sat there for about two and a half hours waiting for the all-clear to re-enter the building. Meanwhile, I had very understanding & patient conversations with students who were in a very uncomfortable situation. To each of those students, I applaud you. Great job staying level-headed! You broke the mold today! Many people have lost faith in our urban youth recently (for very valid reasons), but they reminded me that the public image is not always the correct image. In the end, we found out that the school released a gas bubble. Yep, my school farted.

This weekend was unique too. I was a cookin’ fool. I whipped up four tasty foods, and I am having a hard time figuring out which one to highlight in this upcoming Friday’s 52 Pick-Up Paleo Edition blog post. So I need your help. Here is a picture of each kitchen creation…

The yummy foods include:
1) Upper-Left: Beef with Broccoli & Cashews
2) Upper-Right: Paleo Pizza
3) Lower-Left: Chocolate Bacon Almond Butter Bananas
4) Lower-Right: Cod with Coconut Slaw

Help me by choosing one you'd like to see featured this Friday in my 52 Pick-Up Paleo Style Blog Post. Simply leave a comment below saying which one looks most interesting to you. Thanks!

Lastly, I am trying to sell as many copies of this great ecookbook by George Bryant, The Caveman Feast. It is currently on sale for $19.95 until Thursday, February 28th In fact, the Chocolate Bacon Almond Butter Bananas are straight from Bryant’s imagination. So you can imagine all the other goodness that must be in his cookbook. Please click on the image of The Caveman Feast below to learn more & order your copy (+ goodies)!

If you need any more motivation to order a copy, just look at this cutie ready to munch on those lovely Chocolate Bacon Almond Butter Bananas! My daughter loved them!
 Click Here to Get 200 Paleo Recipes

Friday, February 22, 2013

52 Pick-Up Challenge: Week #2

*This series of Friday posts is inspired by the blog entry--52 Pick-Up Paleo Style by Amy Kubal via Each post is based on this premise that Dietary Ruts = Kitchen Boredom -> Healthy Eating FAIL! So each week, I plan to share with you one meal from the previous week that I tried and enjoyed to help me stave off the boredom in my weekly meal plan.
One of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned over the past few months of eating a “Paleo-ized diet” is how prominent sugars are in the modern American diet. You’ve probably heard about the evils of high fructose corn syrup and the lack of anything positive from processed white sugar. So when someone wants a “healthy sugar” (is there such a thing?), they often turn to honey and maple syrup. They’re natural, right? So when I saw this recipe on PaleOMG’s blog while suffering a sweet-tooth attack, I knew I had to try it.

Recipe #2 of 52: Maple Blueberry Bacon Breakfast Carnitas with Fried Egg (Modified Recipe)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enormous Hump Day

Oi! It’s Hump Day, and the hump I have to get over today seems enormous!

#1: I’m tired. Of course this is my fault for getting sucked into Downton Abbey and staying up late to get to the Season 3 finale. I’m averaging about 1 hour of sleep less than I was used to because the writers keep dragging these episodes into the 2 hour range. But the good news is that I am almost caught up with the rest of the world with the DA storyline.

#2: I’m stressed. The honeymoon period is officially over in my classroom. My freshmen are starting to act very sophomoric! Ain’t nobody got time for that! And if any of you are reading this, understand that I push high expectations because your growth is my greatest concern & passion.

So I have decided to share a few links that I think will help me get over this hump. Please support these sites by visiting them, subscribing to them, buying from them, and paying it forward by sharing them with your posse of peeps.

1)      Bulletproof Coffee! You’ve all heard of lattes, espresso, cappuccinos, and other yummy hot beverages, but have you ever heard of butter in your coffee? The Paleo Mama put this idea in my head with this blog post: I Just Put Butter In My Coffee. And I must do this to get me over this hump.

2)      Bacon! I had the right ingredients to make a yummy bacon-y dish yesterday morning that I will highlight on Friday. But to get me over the hump today, I am looking forward to Baconfest Chicago 2013! The tickets go on sale at NOON (CST) today! Get yours here sold out in 41 minutes! The wonderful thing is the amount of money raised to support The GreaterChicago Food Depository ($50,000 last year).

1)       The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” by Michael Moss (Author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us): I know many documentaries are out talking about the food industry and the impact on our health. But this book excites me! It’s already on hold for me at the local CPL branch.

2)      RewireYour Brain for Positivity and Happiness Using the Tetris Effect” by Walter Chen: I’m not sure what caught my attention most…Tetris or the amazing brain!

3)      Biblical Proverbs: My wife and I are reading through Proverbs. One Bible proverb chapter a day for 31 days. “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.” (Prov. 1:5)

I know these are helping me get over the hump of a difficult week. I hope they help you too! Thanks for reading and sharing!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Laughter: The Best Medicine

I know it’s Monday (Happy Presidents’ Day!), but I am already looking forward to Friday. Fridays are unique because I look forward to them so much, but by the time I get to them, I am so tired that I just want to plop myself down in front of a flickering blue screen and zone out. I am sure some of you share this same sentiment. The stress of the week (work, relationships, health) all build up and wear you down.

So when Friday nights roll around, I need a diversion. More specifically, I need a laugh. And a good hearty laugh is the best. By the time I’m finished with a good Friday-night laugh, I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders, and I am able to breathe more deeply before heading to bed. So I have concluded…

Hearty Laugh -> Less Stress = Healthy Heart

By no means am I a doctor, nor have I done a huge amount of research into the health benefits of laughter, but there seems to be enough evidence that laughter is a necessary part of the Healthy Lifestyle equation. Perhaps this is nothing new to you. But as I have become keener with my health, I have noticed that the healthy lifestyle goes far beyond the two typical focal points: Eating Habits & Exercise. In fact, here are a few quotes from my recent “laughter research.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

52 Pick-Up Challenge: Week #1

I woke up this morning and began a routine that I have practiced for three months now. Part of that routine is a nutritious breakfast…cooking fat, veggies, eggs, salsa verde, & fruit (usually grapefruit). It’s nice that it is routine because I don’t have to think about it too much, but I have noticed a rut beginning to form. So as I was reading my favorite blogs this week, I came across an eye-opening post:

Kubal challenged readers to play a game of 52 Pick-Up (I fell for that trick once thanks to my sister). But this challenge is to try one new recipe each week for an entire year so dietary ruts don’t form. 

Ruts = Boredom -> Healthy Eating FAIL!

So I decided to take up this challenge to provide a little spice in my life and variety on my table.

“[W]hat if every week you added just ONE new food or ONE new recipe to your grocery cart or menu? Think about it – by the end of the year, you’d have 52 NEW taste adventures for your ‘bored buds’ and it doesn’t even seem like a lot of work now does it? ONE new food or recipe every 7 days – if you can’t commit to that, then you have more issues than my last boyfriend…  I’m not saying something new EVERY day but throw caution to the wind once a week.” –Amy Kubal

So each Friday for the next year, I am going to post my favorite 52 Pick-Up Meal of the Week. I cannot wait to share all the fun, new recipes I find and try. Cheers to Healthy Eating without Boring Ruts!

Recipe #1 of 52: Flank Steak with Lime-Garlic-Ginger Marinade & “Nature’s Spears” Asparagus

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine’s Day with A New Perspective

As many of you know, I have recently finished the Whole30 as a way to improve my overall health. And it has improved as shown in earlier posts. I have also learned priceless things about myself & food through the process. So on this Valentine’s Day, I have a new perspective. Show your love to someone with the gift of improved health.

You probably want that special someone to be around for a long time so you can share many special moments together. I was reminded of that on Monday when my wife & I had a special night in Downtown Chicago while the kiddos were at Papa & Nana’s house. Although we had fewer than 24 hours alone together, it was one of those special moments where we laughed, snuggled, looked each other in the eye, and shared some special treats together. It was simplistic. It was lovely. And I look forward to many more moments like that.

But I am now convinced that I want to be healthy to enjoy those moments to the fullest. Some may feel that one can enjoy these moments regardless of the quality of health. True! You probably can, but my experience tells me that feeling healthy makes them all the more enjoyable. In the spirit of getting & feeling healthy, I wanted to share with you some Valentine’s gifts that say, “I love you, and I want you to be around for many years to come.”

Monday, February 11, 2013



I am a Whole30 CHAMPION! That’s just to say that I finished the Whole30 Challenge from January 12 to February 10 along with my wife. After going through the full 30 days, I consider anyone who completes it to be a CHAMPION. So for all those out there who did their own Whole30… Congratulations!

For anyone curious about what I am referring to, you can find all the answers at The Whole30 Program overview and in the book It Starts With Food.

Here are the 4 main points that I was concerned about:
1)      I want to have a “healthy psychological response” to food.
2)      I want to have a “healthy hormonal response” to food.
3)      I want to have a “healthy gut.”
4)      I want to “minimize inflammation.”

And in the end, my overall health improvements prove that many of these areas were addressed. I can attest to the same benefits that many other Whole30 CHAMPIONS claim (weight loss, less inflammation, healthy skin, that sexy feeling, etc.) Many of these stories can be found here. But the most beneficial parts of this journey were learning new things about myself, discovering new recipes, and uncovering areas of more focus.


a)      I Love the Kitchen & Cooking: Who knew the kitchen was actually a room worth spending time in? Prior to this challenge, I spent a total of maybe 15 minutes a day in the kitchen pouring a bowl of cereal or reheating leftovers. Since starting this journey, my kitchen-time has grown exponentially.
b)      SURPRISE! Poisonous Food Alert: Who knew our modern diet was inundated with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), soy products, and other “baddies?” Prior to this challenge, I couldn’t have cared less about the ingredients on food labels. Now, I pick up products simply to read the horror stories on the back.
c)       Beware Judgmental Attitudes: Many paleo converts talk about how they are viewed strangely when discussing their diet & lifestyle with others. But I recognized myself becoming judgmental. I would glance at the carts of my fellow grocery shoppers and silently judge them for their gluten-riddled, HFCS-laden foods while I righteously purchased produce items that cashiers couldn’t identify without their handy-dandy flip charts. Be careful people; our diet doesn’t make us better people…just a bit healthier.


                Top Recipe #1: Bone Broth from Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook
                During the thirty days, I caught the cold my four children had and passed around. Bone broth relieved my sore throat, eased my stuffy nose, and  helped me recover just like a yummy bowl of soup. Homemade chicken broth is much better than the canned/boxed stuff. And buying chicken feet is an adventure in and of itself.

                Top Recipe #2: Curried Sweet Potato Soup w/ Coconut Milk from SyrieWongkaew
                I have my sister-in-law to thank for this one. During her 30-day Clean Eating Challenge, we often shared dinners together. She produced this yummy soup. It was so good that I could have glugged down the entire stock pot full. Luckily, I have some self-control. This made enough for many easy work lunches for a couple weeks.

                Top Recipe #3: Fiery Jalapeño Burgers w/ Sweet Potato Pancakes from Practical Paleo
                We also enjoyed chances to entertain people and share some of these unique foods during our thirty days (we didn’t want to horde this experience). So we made this dinner that balanced spicy and sweet. Kitchen Learning Moment: How to Prepare a Jalapeño.


So everything is perfect, right? Not exactly. I will admit I still have an unhealthy psychological response to sweets. Instead of wolfing down a bag of gummy bears, my daughter did witness me hiding myself in the pantry to scarf down a few dates. Yes, I made a risqué date with dates. At least dates are natural, right? But I can definitely see the need for a 21-Day Sugar Detox in my future.

What a coincidence…the next 21-Day Sugar Detox Challenge starts on March 4, 2013 (right after my wife’s birthday). The timing is awesome!

 The 21-Day Sugar Detox

So, congratulations Whole30 CHAMPIONS! I’m happy to join your ranks! And for everyone else…JOIN THE RIDE!