Whole 30, Day 17 – Beef Crackers (aka dry beef jerky)

bowl of home made beef jerky

Alright, so our batch of jerky wasn’t our best effort this time. Still edible – and still about 1000% better than most store-bought crap, but definitely  a bit on the dry side.

We started with a good cut of meat recommended by our butcher Rob at Brady’s Meats. Trust me, you only pick the wrong cut once because what you end up with is akin to beef flavored chewing gum. We’ve also been experimenting with marinades and are faced with the added challenge that most paleo jerky recipes use coconut aminos, which aren’t available in Canada. Why not? Who knows? Maybe for the same reason you couldn’t buy stevia for years. Actually, this calls for a little tangent…

So way back when I first heard about stevia (for those in the dark, stevia is a herb used as a sweetener, it’s related to the chrysanthemum flower, 300x sweeter than sugar and doesn’t elevate blood sugar, cause cavities or feed candida – brilliant stuff) but back then, not available in Canada. I had to try it so I found a supplier willing to ship to Canada. Since it wasn’t legal here, the supplier filled out the customs label with Anonymous White Powder. No kidding, that  they let into Canada, but a harmless herb – no way. Crazy!

Anyhow, so my search for jerky marinade sans coconut aminos led me to jensgonepaleo.blogspot.com and her A Really Tasty Beef Jerky Recipe, using apple juice as the base. I didn’t have the Penzey’s BBQ 3000 spice she recommends, so I used an equal amount of ground black cardamom, which gave it a nice smoky barbeque flavor. I think next time I’ll also add a little balsamic vinegar to replicate the tangy soy sauce flavor I’m guessing the coconut aminos would give.

Just a note for those who don’t know. Tamari is NOT a good substitute for the aminos. Despite how many paleo jerky recipes you’ll find that use it, It’s made from soy, which of course is a legume and doesn’t belong in a paleo kitchen. Not to mention the questionable effects it has on hormones and the fact that virtually all soy grown these days is GMO. No thanks.

For those toying with idea of making your own jerky – try it! The Food Lover’s Primal Palate has a great post (and a good recipe if you can get your hands on coconut aminos) plus step-by-step instructions using the oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Like making your own mayo, it’s one of those things that fills you with pride when you’re done. Even if you do accidentally leave them in too long at too high a temperature and end up with tasty beef  “crackers” like we did, you can still feel proud that you’re eating a healthy, home-made, 100% paleo and Whole 30 approved snack.


Whole 30, Day 12 Everybody’s (and every body’s) Different

man sprinting on one side, woman asleep at computer on the other side

Guess which one I'm feeling today?

Whole 30, day 11. I was scrolling through the Whole30 facebook page reading posts by people at various stages of this challenge and was amazed (and at times, slightly jealous) of the variety of experiences people are having. There are people feeling “fantastic” after just a few days, boasting of high energy levels and good moods. There are people “Woot”- ing and going on about their clear skin and loose jeans. Hmph. If I had the energy, I’d almost want to hate ’em.

Of course I’m kidding. But I am surprised at how friggin’ drained I am, pretty much all day. Dave’s energy level is pretty stable, but mine is in the toilet. Of course, the facebook page is also full of posts by people feeling equally as lousy, struggling with fatigue and headaches, cravings and bloating…we really are all unique. I thought because our diets were pretty stellar before this great adventure, the transition would be fairly seemless. But I have to remind myself that the body is adjusting, the gut is healing, the metabolism is shifting and these things take time – and energy to process.

The posts I’m most impressed with are those about increased awareness, something we’re really noticing too. My draining day ended with car trouble and having to be rescued by my night in a shining pathfinder. And my first inclination as I stepped through the door was “Could I ever use a glass of wine right!” The correlation between emotions and eating is so obvious now. Dave craves crunch during movies out of habit and boredom, or cookies or apple pie because it would taste “fun”. You gotta ask yourself, what are you really feeding – the body or some other need? If I’m really honest, I’ve often fed my boredom, stress and a need for nurturing with “treats” that never really do the trick.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be one to eat only for survival. I enjoy cooking and love eating way too much to ever consider it merely a means to and end. But the deeper we get into this Whole 30 challenge, the more I suspect we’ll come out of it with a new clarity about our food choices and a new take on what true “nourishment” really is.

Time to hit the sheets. Nighty night all!

Whole 30, Day 10 – You Are What You Eat

Happy pigs laying in an outdoor pen.

"Only Happy Pigs for Brady's" (photo from Brady's Meats facebook page)

I have a confession to make. David and I have been eating “clean” for a really long time, but it’s only recently we decided to go all out and switch to grass-fed beef and naturally raised meat.  We resisted for the same reason I imagine most people do, it’s expensive and hard to find. But then one day my world changed. A colleague at work mentioned Brady’s Meat & Deli, a local butcher that specializes in hormone-free and naturally-raised meat. Not only do they have a fantastic selection, but their service is great and their prices are completely reasonable. I’m hooked. Now, each shopping trip is like a little adventure and I’m like a kid showing off their Christmas haul when I get home to show Dave all the goodies in my bag. Today’s highlight: naturally-raised ground lamb I’ll be incorporating into a sheppard’s pie tomorrow night. I’m giddy just thinking about it!

After the butchers, I went to the grocery store to stock up on veggies and a few other staples. As I made my way through the store, I was thinking that a lot of people on an eating program like this might feel a sense of deprivation, passing by all the things they can no longer have. But like I said, we’ve been steering clear of processed foods for a while, so I can pass the cookies and cereal without skipping a beat. To be honest, the main thoughts I used to think went something like this… “Look at all this CRAP that most people eat! No wonder people are fat and unhealthy…These food producers making this sh!t should be jailed. It’s criminal to call this stuff FOOD….etc etc” A little… judgmental, no?

Well, I’m happy to say today I had a completely different experience. It was more like a sense of FREEDOM. I don’t have to worry about all the boxes and labels and things that aren’t going to end up on my plate. Shopping is so much easier eating the Whole 30 way. Get in, get what you want, get out. Lickety split.

And as far as the judgement, I’m reminded of something Abraham Hicks often says – Don’t push against what you do not want,  just choose what you do want. A lesson applicable to both the food we put in our mouths and the thoughts we put in our minds. Always learning 🙂

If you’re still on the fence over your protein sources, bear in mind the advice given by Melissa and Dallas in the Whole 30 Success Guide, if you can only afford to buy the best in one area of your food budget, make it your protein source first. After all, pesticides can be washed off your veggies, but you’re not rinsing the hormones out of your meat. Check out http:www.eatwild.com/basics.html to read more about the benefits of eating good quality meat and click on their shopping guide to locate a source near you. And of course, if you’re anywhere near KW Southwestern Ontario, go visit my new BFFs at Brady’s Meats.