Archive for February, 2014

How to stop wasting food world-wide

A new paper says that billions of tons of food are wasted every year, both because of producers and transporters not taking a good care of them, but also because the average person is simply letting food rot in their fridge (in the Western countries, that is).

30% of all purchased meat & fish goes to waste, and 19% of veggies. Here’s my own analysis of the problem in my personal experience, and how to stop it.

Veggies & Fruits

I cook what I eat, the vast majority of the time. And yet, even myself I occasionally waste food. The reason being is this: I was sold too much of it. When I need 3 leaves of kale for my stew, I need just that: 3 leaves of kale. Not a bunch of 15 leaves! When I need 1 carrot for my soup, I need just that: 1 carrot. And when I need 5 tangerines, I need 5, not 30 in a big bag.

Instead, 90% of what’s sold in the produce aisles (and even in farmer’s markets!) are in big bunches/packages. If we were still living in the wild, I’d only pick what I needed for the day, not the whole field. This philosophy must come to all supermarkets too, by law, otherwise, we over-farm (and this has many consequences), we over-produce, we over-consume, and at the end we’re making heaps of garbage. Sure, what I’m suggesting here is not very capitalistic, but it’s logical, and it’s how we evolved to consume.

So here’s my idea on how to bring the “buy only what you need” philosophy to the market:

– Create three color-coded areas in the produce aisle: Yellow, Red, Blue (so all color blind people can see them too). Plastic bags for produce will have such colors too.
– Fruits and veggies that cost (let’s say) $1 per pound, are in the Yellow area. Produce in the Red area cost $3/lb, and Blue cost $5/lb. More expensive super-markets or organic produce can be sold more expensively, but still at this 3-tier pricing scheme (the actual prices are something to be decided by the parties involved, not the focus of this article).
– The trick is that none of these veggies are sold in bunches. Big veggies (e.g. cabbage, iceberg), are sold as whole, 1/2 and 1/4 sizes. People can mix and match what they buy, as long as these are part of the same color-coded area/price.

This type of selling goods have the following benefits:
– People are not going to waste so much food anymore, because they will be buying exactly what they need. Since everything is sold by weight, they will be careful of how much they buy. There’s now incentive for it.
– People will also have incentive to try more veggies! People who never tried collard greens before, they will buy just 1 leaf (since they won’t be paying much for it for that weight), just to try it once. The next time, they will try something else they never had before. Eventually, that’s how you make people acquiring healthier habits.
– Food consumed will be fresher, since people will be buying, let’s say, 1 potato and some salad greens for dinner, instead of trying to finish big packages they bought a week earlier.
– Larger package produce can still be sold (e.g. for restaurants), but only as frozen.
– Fewer plastic bags and packaging will be needed.

On the downside, less produce will be sold overall (about 25% less), which might be something that super-markets and producers won’t like. But we should be seeing the bigger picture of all this, rather than the profit of few. Producers might find an incentive to move to organic-only food, so they can sell at slightly higher prices, for example. Or, since they will be producing less of their main crop, they can use the rest of their land to produce something else. This is good for rotating crops too. Overall, I think producers will find a way to make a profit, it’s the super-markets that will mostly lose with this idea. But it’s something that has to be done.

Meat & Fish

For meat & fish, my idea is to not sell meat packages with more than 80gr to 150 gr (depending on fat and bone content of the cut). For a low-fat cut for example, 80gr is enough for one serving size for one person. Instead, what we see today, are huge meat packages sold, sometimes with huge steaks in them. 30% of all food going to waste is meat!

Humans don’t require that much of it. An egg in the morning with fermented dairy, an 80gr fish/shellfish for lunch, and an 80gr of white or red meat for dinner are more than enough to get your protein needs going. Instead, people are over-consuming meat nowadays, and it’s driving our animals to farm prisons (in order for these industries to meet demand), and our wild fish in extinction (farmed fish are worse than farmed animals food-wise).

In my country, Greece (and other traditional countries to my knowledge), people would eat red meat once or twice a month. They had wild game or chicken once a week. Eggs 3-4 times a week. Seafood twice a week. Dairy daily. But red meat, well, not that often. On top of that, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday were strict vegan days for Greeks, since the Orthodox Church required it.

Sure, the whole turkey, whole chicken and the occasional roast can still be sold as such, since they’re easily freezable after they’ve been cooked, and so they rarely go to waste. But when it comes to individual pieces of beef, lamb & pork, or huge packages of poultry pieces, these do go to waste. Providing small packages of a single serving is how you fix this problem. A family of 3 can buy three ~80gr packages of such meat, while a single person will only buy one.

The benefits of such a system are this:
– No need to over-fish our oceans. No need to over-farm fish (which are kept in terrible conditions and are toxic to eat too often).
– No need to over-produce meat. Since we would be buying less meat, we can fit these animals easier in our plains, to live a more respected and natural life. No need to fill them up with so many hormones and antibiotics. Less farming, less toxic waste in our environment.
– Since small packages will be sold, the people would be more curious to try more types of fish and meat, e.g. ostrich, bison, goat, duck, goose etc.

Again, the people who will lose the most are the super-markets and the meat industry. Well, bad luck. It’s time to see the big picture and where we go as a species on this rock, than just to be looking straight at our pockets and profit.

The true key

Finally, it’s more than possible that this type of market will drive food prices up for the consumer too. This is why people need to leave mega-cities, move back to smaller towns, and have their own vegetable garden and hens. It’s easy to say “I’m going to live in NY or SF or LA because that’s where it’s so cool to be right now”, while in order for you to be living there and having a cool life and a smashing career, you DEPEND on a relentless food industry that commits CRIMES against the Earth and all its living creatures, on your BEHALF. It’s easy to close our eyes and think that food arrives in the supermarket from the clouds, but it isn’t so.

For the record, I’m not a vegan or vegetarian. I’m in fact, Paleo. But I’m also not blind. Which is why I keep my own herb garden while all my neighbors waste precious California water to water fucking useless grasses and ornamental bullshit. I can’t wait to leave this place one day, and move back to Greece, cultivating my father’s land up in the high mountains of Epirus. Probably have a few chickens too. That’s life. That’s responsibility. That’s true freedom.

Supplementation for Vegans

Disclaimer: I’m not a dietician or a doctor, so don’t take the following as medical advice.

IF I was to become a Paleo-vegan (I won’t), a version of veganism that follows the most healthy practices of Paleo to be added in, it would look like the following. But even that healthful diet won’t be enough on getting all needed nutrition. Have a read about any possible needed supplementation below.

1. A vegan version of the Paleo diet

– No glutenous grains, at any point (no wheat, barley, rye, and most common oats). Always read labels to make sure you’re not eating gluten.

– Avoid vegetable seed oils and margarine (they’re either trans-fats, or too high in omega-6). Don’t fear the good fats, and use liberally: coconut oil (for medium heat cooking), extra-virgin olive oil (for salads), avocado oil (high-heat cooking), coconut cream.

– No excess sugars/carbs. Keep it between 100 and 200 gr net carbs, depending on your physical activity. Avoid artificial sweeteners and soda.

– Avoid GMO corn. Organic, whole corn is fine.

– Avoid GMO soy. Whole, organic soy is fine, tamari gluten-free soy sauce is ok too. Non-GMO unpasteurized miso is ok too, as long as it doesn’t contain gluten/barley in it. Natto is ok. Eat logical amounts of soy, don’t overdo it. Soy can mess up with your estrogen if eaten a lot, as a replacement for animal products, rather than as a legume.

– No processed foods. This means: no things like tofu, cereals, cakes, sweets, egg/meat-like substitutes, which are extremely processed and industrialized. Eat limited amounts of gluten-free pasta/pizza/bread or soy milk, since these are still considered quite processed or have additives.

– Legumes, rice, quinoa (which aren’t allowed on normal Paleo) are a go in this veg*n diet. From these high-carb foods, lentils are the best in terms of their nutrition/carb ratio. Make sure you soak legumes for 24 hours before cooking. Sprouted lentils are best, avoid peanuts.

– Also eat plenty of fresh veggies, tubers, fruits. Some nuts and seeds are ok, but don’t overdo it with these, as they’re extremely high in anti-nutrients and Omega-6. For nuts, it’s best to soak them first, to render their anti-nutrients inert.

– Cook with garlic, ginger and turmeric very often. These are the 3 most potent “herbs”.

– To get enough B1 on this diet, you’ll need nutritional yeast (sprinkle it on kale chips).

– Eat different types of sea vegetables 3-4 times a week. You’ll need the iodine.

– Drink plenty of no-fluoride-added water (spring water). Herbal teas are ok, caffeine is out.

– Walk barefoot on soil almost daily, out in the sun, showing some skin too (for UV and D3).

– Meditation, yoga, exercise (weights and short sprints — not endurance or aerobic/cardio).

2. Supplementation for vegans and vegetarians

Of course, we should be getting most of our nutrition via alive food (some of it raw, too). Supplements can only go so far, compared to real food. But on veg*n diets, some compounds and vitamins either don’t exist at all, or they’re found in very limited quantities. Vegans might need all of the supplements proposed below, and vegetarians most of them. Even full Paleo eaters might need a few of the supplements proposed, since our modern food options are lacking.

– Compounds that the human body needs and are found only in meat or fish:

– Taurine
– Carnosine
– L-acetyl-carnitine
– Creatine
– The bio-available version of B12 (sublingual)
– The retinol version of vitamin A
– A vegan DHA supplement. Chia/flax only offer the ALA version of Omega-3, not the DHA version, which is the one bio-available to humans. This is the only supplement that you might need to take a bit more often than the rest.

– Compounds found in limited quantities in plant food:

– Coq10 Ubiquinol (not ubiquinone). Mostly found in offal normally. It’s the life of our mitochondria, and one of the most important nutrients. In the western world, where people don’t eat offal, pretty much everyone is deficient of it (veg*n or not).
– Calcium. Might be an idea to drink almond milk, or minimally-processed coconut milk with added Calcium, if you don’t want to supplement with it or eat dairy.
– Magnesium Malate (20 mins before sleep). Almost everyone needs more magnesium, even folks on full Paleo, due to our soil/water being depleted of it after the Industrial Revolution.
– Zinc. Mostly found in oysters. Boosts the immune system.
– Lysine. Mostly found in pork meat. Helps fighting various viruses.
– D3 2000 IU. Taken in mornings. Use only if you’re not going out in the sun a lot, or if your blood test shows that you’re deficient of it (definitely check D3 out via a blood test).
– K2-Mk4. Take this, unless you eat natto (fermented soy beans) routinely.
– PQQ. Mostly found in animal hearts. Provides neuroprotection, cognition and cardioprotection.
– Iron. Take this only if your blood tests show that you need it, if your doctor approves it, and if you’re not in menopause. You gotta be careful about this one.
– Collagen types I, II, and III. Since you can’t drink bone broth on vegan-paleo, you might need collagen (especially if you’re low in CoQ10, which helps produce it). Also an interesting supplement if you’re over 35 years old, or have joint/knee pains.
– Choline, but only if you’re not eating eggs.
– B1, but only if you’re not using nutritional yeast on some of your snacks.
– E tocotrienols, but only if you’re not eating almonds, or other seeds and nuts daily.

IF you’re a female, trying to get pregnant, you might need folate for 6 months prior to getting pregnant (make sure it’s folate, not folic acid). Discuss this further with your doctor.

DO NOT take all these vitamins every day. I’d say, just spread them around in the week, taking no more than 3 per day. Do a list of what to take on each day of the week. Give your body a rest for some weeks in the year, and don’t take any such pills at all. Also, don’t take A and D3 together, as they’re antagonists. Use cronometer.com to track what you’re eating every day (enable the “net carbs” option in its preferences)!

3. Further actions

Finally, set money aside to have blood tests once a year. Check D3, iron, Mg, B12, DHEA/s, thyroid (including T3 and REVERSE T3, that most doctors don’t test), Calcium, A, E, HS-CRP (inflammation status), liver status, estrogen, cortisol, insulin, cholesterol/trigs status.

Meet my spirit guide, Esther

A few days ago, I was looking around for binaureal beats on Youtube as a way to induce an Out of Body Experience (OoBE), but instead I came across this guided hypnosis audio, in which you can supposedly meet your Spirit Guide(s) (which they’re a different notion than that of your Higher Self). I tried it, and it worked. My body was paralyzed, but my mind was lucid.

I was in a large room that resembled a white Cathedral. Outside, there were beautiful landscapes and colorful trees with soothing pink-white colors. My spirit guide appeared: an all white light being without any facial or other features, except for two black eyes (that were perceived as, rather than physically having two black eyes), and an elongated head. I’ve seen such beings once before, about 15 years ago, during a past-life regression session (they were greeting me, after death). When later today I google-searched for “white light beings with black eyes”, I came across this article that perfectly describes them: “We also have a special guide around about 5.5 ft to 6 feet tall and appears as a silhouette of pure white light with a light golden glow“. Right on the money.

My connection to that hypnotic session was not strong, so the only clear messages I got, was that her name was Esther (what’s up with all the Jewish names?), and that her advice to me was to “live”. Not a super-productive conversation, but enough to give me a first taste.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading about Out of Body Experiences, and have tried to induce it twice, unsuccessfully. This morning, after waking up from 9 hours of sleep, I tried it again: lying on the bed still, meditating (body sleeping, mind awake). By the time I started receiving some vague images, I heard a voice: “get back to Earth”. Well, that threw me off, and brought me back.

I got unhappy about my unsuccessful attempt again. I thought, “fuck it”, and decided to sleep even more. I saw a few off-topic dreams, but at some point I became lucid. I started shouting the names of Esther, and Heva (my Higher Self), as I do each time I gain lucidity.

Everything goes black.

Next thing I know, I’m floating on the ceiling of my bedroom, my body sleeping on the bed. I’m very lucid, and everything feels very real. I realize that I’m somewhere in between of a lucid dream and a real OoBE, so I decide to float to other places. First, I visited a squirrel’s nest, in our home where pipes rest, but was so dark in there that I couldn’t see well. You see, we have a squirrel pest in our new home, so I was trying to gather intel, on how to get rid of it best. Since I can’t go there physically (between pipes), I thought I could try to find its nest in spirit. Next, I visited a few people, to see if they’re doing ok.

On my way back to my bedroom, Esther appeared. This time, she took the appearance of a woman in her late ’30s, and felt like a sister. She had the physique of Queen Latifah, of sorts. We talked about a few things, but each time I could feel my body move in the bed, I was losing my connection to her (her speech was becoming incomprehensible). But she was clear again about one thing: that I have a life on this planet, and that I must tend to it, instead of seeking escapades to the non-physical realm. She didn’t suggest that I shouldn’t meditate or not seek larger Truths, but that should not be in lieu of living my life (which it currently does).

She also said that she doesn’t know if she will appear to me again, because this is now tied to my success towards working on my life goals. She mentioned that I already know what I need to do in this life (and I do indeed), so once again, her advice was: “live”.

Paleo Fish & Chips

When I was living in the UK, more than 12 years ago, fish & chips, and bangers & mash were my regular pub food. So, here is part I, the Paleo version of fish & chips.

Ingredients (for 2)
* 2 wild cod fillets (about 200 gr each)
* 1/3 cup of tapioca starch
* 1/3 cup of ground flax seeds
* 1 egg
* 3 tablespoons of coconut (or avocado or olive) oil
* Salt, pepper, paprika and any other spice you like

Method
1. Wash the cod fillets and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside.
2. On a large semi-deep dish add the tapioca, flax and spices. Using your hands, mix well. Take the fillets one by one and coat them with the dry mix on both sides. Set fillets aside again.
3. Add the egg to the mix, and whisk it well. The resulted paste must be thick, but not dry. It should have the consistency of oatmeal. It might require to add a bit of water if it’s too dry.
4. Add the fillets again, and coat them well. Set the frying pan on medium heat, with the oil. When the oil is a bit hot, add the fillets in. If your frying pan has a cover, all the better. Turn the fish only once, after it has become golden brown on one side. Overall, it takes about 6-8 minutes of frying.
5. Serve with lemon, a two parts mayo + one part ketchup sauce, and fried sweet potatoes (or other root vegetable, like parsnips, turnips, rutabaga for lower carb).

Per Serving: (fish part only) 550 calories, 11 gr of net carbs, 28 gr of fat, 55 gr of protein, 6 gr of omega-3 (cod has only 0.3 gr of O-3, the rest comes from flax, so it’s ALA). RDA: 95% B12, 38% B3/Niacin, 48% B6, 55% choline, 46% phosphorus, 29% magnesium, 86% selenium.

Zughetti Carbonara

I’ve tried this classic carbonara recipe using spaghetti squash in the past, and it came out all wrong. But it was a slam dunk using spiralized zucchini tonight. My husband loved it, and that surprised both him and myself. This is a recipe to definitely try if you’re on Paleo.

Zughetti Carbonara
Click for a larger view

Ingredients (for 2)
* 3 medium zucchinis
* 6 slices of smoked bacon (6 button mushrooms for vegetarian)
* 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche or sour cream
* 1 egg
* Black pepper
– A spiralizer device

Method
1. Wash the zucchini. Cut the top and bottom of each zucchini and then cut it in two pieces. Spiralize each piece using the device, using the blade with the smaller triangles. Cut the resulted zoodles with a knife or kitchen scissors at about 8″ length. Set aside.
2. Cut the bacon in small pieces and add on a cooking pan under medium heat.
3. In a bowl, whisk together well the sour cream and the egg. Add black pepper.
4. When the bacon becomes crispy to your liking, remove from heat, and drain away the rendered bacon fat. Return bacon to medium heat, and add the zucchini.
5. Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes and add the egg-cream mix. Turn off the heat, stir well a few more times, remove from the stove, and immediately serve. The zucchini must not be fully cooked, or it will become soggy. The less you cook the egg-cream too, the more creamy it’ll be. Enjoy!

Per Serving: 320 calories, 4.5 gr of net carbs, 23 gr of fat. About 30%-35% of the RDA for each of the B vitamins, 12% folate, 36% vitamin C, 45% phosphorus, 35% selenium, 30% zinc.

Top-10 Must-Eat Paleo Foods, Part II

Two years ago I wrote a blog post about the most must-eat Paleo foods with the highest health benefits. Now, it’s time for a second part on this post.

1. Baobab dry powder
A staple among the Hanza tribal people (that are often a reference among Paleo dieters), baobab is a fruit similar to coconut. It has blood glucose stabilizing effects among other benefits.

2. Water kefir
This is good for those who can’t do any dairy, and so they can’t follow my original milk kefir suggestion. Water kefir grains are consisted by about 30 different bacteria & yeasts, compared to 40+ in home-made milk kefir (commercial milk kefir doesn’t have more than 12). The only downside of water kefir is the amount of sugar required to ferment. After fermentation for 48 hours, the generated soda drink is 5% sugar, which might not be ideal for some. However, if you’re not doing any other type of fermented food, and you want to be drinking sodas, then it’s a good drink to have, with lots of probiotic effects.


Raw cacao, baobab powder, amla powder, chia seeds, and a sea vegetable mix. I use the four first ones on my goat kefir smoothies, with added fruits.

3. Smoothies & raw food
On Paleo, fruit juices are out because they don’t contain fiber. However, smoothies are more acceptable, even if some in the Paleo community still talk against them. The idea is that according to Paleo gurus, we’re supposed to eat 2/3 in weight in veggies. Only 1/3 in weight is supposed to be protein, despite what you see on the Instagram #Paleo photos (huge steaks, miniscule amounts of veggies). Dr Wahls (the doctor with multiple sclerosis who overcame her disease with Paleo) suggests 3 cups of sulfur veggies, 3 cups of green leaves, and 3 cups of colorful veggies or fruits a day (as non-starchy as possible). That’s a lot of veggies to take down, so to reach such volumes you might need to eat big salads, do smoothies, or make soups.

4. Chia whole seeds & Flax ground seeds
The human body apparently can’t transform ALA type of Omega-3 to the useful EPA/DHA fatty acids. However, they do help out a bit in the whole process. I use chia on my kefir smoothies, and ground flax as breading for fish. I prefer flax to almond flour, because almond flour is much higher in anti-nutrients and Omega-6 than flax. These are also particularly useful if you have your own chickens. Chickens can convert ALA to DHA very efficiently, so eating their eggs and meat will be extremely beneficial, since they’ll have more a lot more O-3 than conventional chickens (most chickens/eggs, even the organic/free-range ones, are extremely high in O-6).


My milk kefir, water kefir, and two soda bottles for my water kefir.

5. Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric
These are the most potent “herbs” you can use in your cooking. Plenty of health benefits and anti-oxidant value. Prefer your garlic as young and as raw as possible btw. Cook with these very frequently!

6. Non-fluoridated water
This might come as a surprise to you, but on Paleo and especially on Paleo-ketogenic you must drink a lot of water. More than usual. But for water to work its magic, it must be spring water — not tap water. It must have minerals in it, no chlorine, but most importantly, it should not have fluoride (apart from a small amount that occurs naturally, rather than being added). Fluoride can’t be removed with normal water filters. Fluoride prohibits healing and must be avoided at all costs. Switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste too. It’s indeed not very nice that you would have to buy plastic water bottles for your drinking/cooking water, since they contribute to pollution, but the alternative is as grim too. Check on your county’s website to see if your water supply has added fluoride in it. In California, they all do, for example.