Double Yoo Tee Eff Friday – The Demonisation of Dandelions

I see a lot of things in our society that make me stop and think ‘How the F did we get to this point as a society’. Some of these are big things, some really small things. The common factor all these things have is that they don’t seem to fit into an evolutionary model and that they really annoy me. To this end I will endeavour to post these things each Friday in an attempt to shine a light on them, and to hopefully get people thinking about things we often take for granted.

 

Today’s Rant: The demonisation of Dandelions

 

Spring_dandelions_flowersI saw an ad recently for a product that kills weeds by just touching them, like a death stick for weeds. Or, as I like to call weeds, a collection of medicinal herbs and foods that humans don’t commonly eat. In fact the only difference I can see in the categorisation between herbs and weeds is that herbs are fragile and easy to control, where weeds are robust and grow everywhere.

So on this particular ad the weed in question is the Dandelion, clearly the bane of human existence since we first came down from the trees and created a lawn. When did Dandelions become this huge problem? Historically they have been used for eating and medicinal purposes so why do we now need this death stick to kill them off?beforeafter

 

 

 

 

 

beeSo for those of you who didn’t know Dandelion’s leaves and flowers can be eaten (the leaves are akin to chicory or rocket and can be cooked like spinach. They are also packed full of vitamins), The roots can be boiled and eaten or dried and used as a ‘coffee’ (I’ve tried it, it tastes nothing like coffee FYI) or medicinally as a diuretic, the flowers attract bees and help pollenate other local plants and they help pull up and release nitrogen in the soil. They grow anywhere, even in the smallest crack in the pavement. If you cut them down, provided the tap root is intact, they grow back. If you’ve ever tried gardening you will know how truly awesome that is.

And yet for reasons that are beyond my very basic understanding of human nature, we must destroy these weeds…

rndup1Anyway congratulations to Monsanto for creating yet another product to help our species kill off other living things thus homogenising our environment and continuing our dominion over Mother Nature.

End rant

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WTF Friday

I see a lot of things in our society that make me stop and think ‘How the F did we get to this point as a society’. Some of these are big things, some really small things. The common factor all these things have is that they don’t seem to fit into an evolutionary model and that they really annoy me. To this end I will endeavour to post these things each Friday in an attempt to shine a light on them, and to hopefully get people thinking about things we often take for granted.

This week’s rant: Fats in the supermarket

 

This is not about fat people in supermarkets, or a gripe about supermarkets in general (although I could write a book about things that annoy me about these places), this is the harrowing tale about how hard it is to get some good fat. Specifically duck fat.

A few months back one of the major supermarkets in my area starting stocking duck fat and the other supermarkets followed suit. In fact they had a whole range of fats including duck, goose, coconut oil, organic grasped butter, dripping, lard and ghee. It was a wondrous time where a man could obtain the fats he needs with convenience, skipping the whole ‘wait 10 days for shipping’ scene.

WhynosenseTwo weeks ago this all came to an abrupt end. No warning. All of it, just gone. It’s like the heart foundation got to them. There is, however, still at least EIGHTEEN different types of margarine. I mean do people still eat that stuff? The only thing left that was even remotely linked with these fats was ‘cooking solid’, of which the ingredient (yep apparently there’s only one) was this mysterious ‘Animal fats’. What animal? Was there more than one? Please be more specific with your ingredients list.

Ok actually I lie, you can still buy coconut oil in supermarkets, in tiny, massively overpriced jars, because it’s trending at the moment.

It should also be noted that this is not some dinky, backwards, out-of-the-way supermarket we’re talking about either. This is Bondi Junction, the flagship store. I mean they sell wild game meat in this store. You can sit down and eat sushi and freshly baked wood fire oven pizza if you’re so inclined.

I just really felt like we were turning a corner in this fat thing and then BAM, this happens. I guess I now have one more reason to never step foot in your store again. So… thank you?

 

End Rant

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Minimalistic Living – The Ryokan

1024px-Tamatsukuri_onsen_yado02s3648After a visit to Japan a little while ago I came across the ryokan, a Japanese inn or guest house. The rooms of a ryokan are basically empty with the exception of a small table and maybe a floor chair (picture a normal chair with no legs). In the evening unseen attendants (I’m assuming they were trained as ninjas) would come in a lay out a thin futon mattress on the floor. In the morning they would pack it up and replace it with green tea.

My first thought was that this plain, empty room would be oppressively boring, yet, having nothing to distract you actually makes for a pretty cool space.
And then I returned home to my room, filled to overflowing with…stuff. Queen sized bed. Desk. Chair. Shelves. Clutter. It was actually a stressful experience to look into my room, let alone be in it. This shit had to go. It was time to ryokan my room (little Street Fighter 2 reference there NBD).
Ryokan_Matsukaze_in_MatsumotoI sold the bed, moved the desk and shelves out and packed away any number of electronic devices and chargers I had. I replaced them with a futon mattress on the floor (which I roll up to be a low couch during the day), a low set of cube shelves and a plant.
No distractions. No useless clutter. Just a quiet contemplative space. A calm empty room for a calm empty mind, I mean we have enough ‘mind clutter’ in our lives, we don’t need it where we sleep as well.
At night it’s lit by candles and all electronic devices (including my phone) are off, on flight mode or, preferably, not in the room (which has the added benefit of a better night’s rest).
It’s like the background noise of stress that comes along with clutter is suddenly cut out. Every time you walk into the room you know it’s to relax or to sleep, and this starts being a positive feedback loop very quickly. Your body will start to automatically go into relaxation just being in that space. The result: better sleep. The result of better sleep: a reinforced feeling of relaxation.
1341222724568328There’s a lot to be said about where and how you sleep. Being ex military, I’ve slept on the ground quite a bit, yet had never considered it as an ‘at home’ thing. When you consider it though, sleeping in a bed raised off the ground is kind of a novel Western idea. There is a fair chunk of the population of human beings currently inhabiting this planet who probably don’t sleep that way. Is this just another form of our ‘pursuit of comfort’ (or laziness) rearing it’s head again. The simple fact that we don’t need to bend down, or even use our legs to get in and out of bed is something that should cause a little concern.
Have a think about that, and sleep on it.

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What the F@*% Fridays

I see a lot of things in our society that make me stop and think ‘How the F did we get to this point as a society’. Some of these are big things, some really small things. The common factor all these things have is that they don’t seem to fit into an evolutionary model and that they really annoy me. To this end I will endeavour to post these things each Friday in an attempt to shine a light on them, and to hopefully get people thinking about things we often take for granted.

This week’s rant: Fake Nails

For me, the sound of dragging your nails down a blackboard has absolutely nothing on the sound of someone with long nails taping at a keyboard. Is this not painful and annoying for the people doing this? Not to mention it must make typing slower.

When and why did we decide that having long nails was an advantage anyway? Apparently nail polish and longer nails started with the Egyptian pharaohs and disseminated down to first the rich elite and then the common folk by way of imitation. So I’m guessing the point is to seem as rich and thus powerful as possible?  It seems to me that it’s an emulation of someone who doesn’t work. Someone who doesn’t use their hands. Someone who can’t fend for themselves. Why the Hel would you want to emulate that?

 

End Rant

You’re Welcome.

 

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WTF Friday

I see a lot of things in our society that make me stop and think ‘How the F did we get to this point as a society’. Some of these are big things, some really small things. The common factor all these things have is that they don’t seem to fit into an evolutionary model and that they really annoy me. To this end I will endeavour to post these things each Friday in an attempt to shine a light on them, and to hopefully get people thinking about things we often take for granted.

IMG_5208This weeks rant: Fake Plastic Trees

To celebrate Spring a local mall erected this homage to nature. A dead tree. A plastic dead tree. With neon lights in it. And surrounded by plastic bushes.

The most disturbing thing was that parents were bringing their children up to it as a spectacle. Look kids, this is what ‘nature’ looks like. But not quite, more like the idea of nature. An abstraction of nature. A museum to nature.

Disturbing.

End Rant.

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A Break Up Letter to Bacon

baconFor a lot of people, when you say you’re going ‘on the paleo diet’ general feedback you get from your friends is something like – you’re mad, you’re crazy, why would you do this?, don’t you know it’s dangerous, sure but bread tastes soooo good.

One of the stalwart answers to these (and many more) complaints of the paleo/primal diet usually centres around the fact the diet allows, and in fact encourages, a relatively large intake of meat. Delicious, delicious meat. With none more popular than that thinly sliced fat infused breakfast meat from heaven, bacon. I mean bacon is just the bomb. The end.

So when I said to my paleo/primal friends that I’m no longer eating bacon, the feedback was something like – you’re mad, you’re crazy, why would you do this?, don’t you know it’s dangerous, sure but bacon tastes sooooo good. So by way of explanation I offer you this treatise on the matter – My Breakup Letter To Bacon (o.k. I’m actually breaking up with all domesticated meat, but bacon is the one who really disserves the letter).

 

Dear Bacon,

 

We’ve had some really wonderful times together, times that I will never forget and will always hold dear. Like the time I put you on pancakes with eggs and poured maple syrup over you. Or the time I interlaced you into a pizza base and created a Meat-zza. That time especially.

But unfortunately all good things must end, and it’s time for us to go our separate ways. I just feel I need some space away from you, so I can discover who I am without your influence.

It’s not you it’s me. Actually that’s not really true It’s half me and half what I’m doing to you. Allow me to delve into this dichotomy further.

Firstly, me:

I am a human being and as such I am subject to influence and adaptation to my environment. My environment has shaped me. Historically that environment has been a wild one, the same as every other creature on this Earth. However since the onset of agriculture I have shaped my environment, controlling it in order to make my life easier. Ergo I now control my development, willingly or not, in a closed loop system. I want to find out what happens when we’re no longer in that system, both physically and mentally (I’ve heard stories from other hunters and survival people that sustained consumption of wild caught protein can bring about a change in psychology).

It also strikes me as weird the homogenization of our diets. Four animals rule our protein intake – cow, pig, sheep and chicken – and nearly all meals contain a variant of one of these beasts (the main exception being seafood).

And Now you. I can’t bury my head in the sand any longer and believe that all my meat comes from a paradise farm somewhere where all the animals are sung to whilst eating the finest organic grass. When it’s time for them to die they just slip off to sleep and never wake up. No, the reality is concrete floors, steel pens and electrocution – a scene very far from nature, but then again so is the animal that is being ‘harvested’. These animals are very different from their progenitor species, bred to be docile with a high yield.

boar

Boar – The progenitor of the pig

pig

Moderna day pig (the wonder animal) in it’s ‘natural’ surrounds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aurochs

Aurochs – progenitor of the modern cow species. Taking on wolves like a boss

cow

The modern cow…

 

Let’s talk about the creation of species with the implicit outcome to harvest them for meat. I mean this is something directly out of sci fi when you think about it (The Matrix, The Island). But as I said before, this is in essence a closed loop system; one I think we have very little idea what the impact is on our development.

I’m not even going to go into the environmental impact of our current animal farming practices here. Or my thoughts on whether the amount of people eating meat should be and the disconnect between the original form of what we eat and how it is finally presented (but I will go into these at a later date).

 

So, sadly, it’s over between us (for a little while at least). Don’t call me anymore. And if you receive a late night message on Saturday just ignore it. It’s better this way.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Stuart.

 

 

In all seriousness though the aim of this experiment is to see what (if any) changes occur and how feasible it actually is to do this (as I’ve found thus far, sourcing wild meat can be tricky). This is not a ‘holier than thou’ preaching session on what you should. It’s just one man’s attempt to regain connection with a food system that is almost as removed as we can possibly take it. This is not for everyone, I get that, but then again neither is breathing.

 

I don’t view my dietary habits as a set of rules or a goal to attain, I view it as a continuum, an ongoing self experiment.

And this is just the next step down my own personal rabbit hole. Curiouser and curiouser (and hungrier).

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Excuses and Fear: why we really don’t want to do something

comfort zoneI’m tired. I wasn’t ready. My legs hurt. It’s raining. It’s cold. I don’t have the right shoes on.

Excuses.

Excuses are like A**holes. Everyone’s got one and they all stink. There can be a million different reasons for why we don’t do something but ultimately it boils down to one thing. Fear. You’re afraid to do (or not do) a particular activity. There is something, deep down in your brain, that’s telling you ‘don’t attempt this, you’re going to fail. It’s going to hurt you. You’ll be humiliated’.
The truth is that you probably will be. This fact shouldn’t be a reason to stop doing these things, it should in fact be the opposite. There was a time when we didn’t know how to walk. That didn’t stop us from attempting it though. I’d say that all of us failed at our first attempt. This didn’t stop us either. We continued to try until we got it. Then we practiced it daily and improved upon the technique until we could do it efficiently. Why should any other task be treated differently?
This fact was sparked in my mind when I saw a t shirt the other day with the slogan “If you never play then you’ll never lose”. I would argue that anytime that you decide not to play,train,interact or try, then you have already lost. Lost an opportunity to grow, not only physically but mentally, spiritually. Grow in character. Like Alfred said to Bruce Wayne (Batman) “Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up again”. It’s in the attempt that we succeed, not in the succeeding itself.
You’ll never be able to shut off the excuses, but identifying that you have them, and acknowledging that you have fears, is the first step. You’ll be able to slowly replace the ‘I can’t’ with ‘I think I can’ and eventually with ‘I will’.

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Paleo Blueberry Souffle and Banana Ice-cream

Hi All,

To back up my last post on fermenting foods I thought I’d give you a sweet treat to have afterwards. So without any further ado I give you…

souffle1Paleo Blueberry Souffle and Banana Ice-cream

Ice-cream recipe

6 egg yolks

540ml coconut milk (I use 2 x 270ml cans AYAM brand)

2 ½ small ripe banana

2 Tbs raw organic honey

!/4 tsp Upgraded Bulletproof Vanilla

1 Tbs Upgraded Bulletproof MCT oil

1 Tbs Extra Virgin coconut oil

In a jug blender, puree the banana, vanilla honey and coconut milk. Pour this into a saucepan and bring to scalding point.

Whisk this liquid onto the yolks in a large bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and stir the mix continually, turning the bowl every 30 seconds.

After 10 minutes the mixture should be very hot and thick but not have scrambled egg through it. Take it off the heat and whisk in the 2 oils until thoroughly mixed. Allow to cool and churn in an ice-cream machine.

Alternatively leave in the bowl and place in the freezer. Take out every half hour and run a whisk through the mix to prevent ice crystals forming. Using this method you should let it freeze hard and take out 5-10 minutes before serving.

Souffle2Blueberry Souffle recipe

3 egg yolks

3 Tbs raw organic honey

280ml Coconut water (I use green drinking coconuts for this)

2 Tbs coconut flour

200g organic blueberries

Egg whites

Cream the egg yolks and honey until pale and creamy. Sift the coconut flour onto the yolks and mix thoroughly.

Bring the coconut water to the boil and whisk onto the yolk mix. Return to a clean saucepan, bring to the simmer and while stirring cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and in a jug blender, puree with the blueberries. Set aside to cool.

Per 3tbs soufflé mix whisk 1 ½ egg whites stiff. Stir ½ the stiff whites into the mix then carefully fold in the remaining whites. Spoon into a ramekin and with a wet finger wipe around the inside of the ramekin to a depth of 1cm.

Place into a 190’c preheated oven and cook for about 10 minutes.

Serve with the ice-cream and some extra blueberries.

 

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Fermenting foods

kim chiHi All,

Sorry it has been a while. I have been busy getting my eldest daughter enrolled in High School for 2014, attending Open days and nights and also trying to give my Aussie Paleo Chef profile a bit of a caveman kick in the butt.

Anyhow, this rattle is about my new found favourite accompaniment for meat dishes, (in particular, steak) fermented vegetables. Don’t be deterred by the name, your Paleo palettes will love the sour, salty, crunchiness of this pile of absolute goodness.

There are a great range of raw fermented vegetables these days available from good Health food stores.  German sauerkraut (which is simply fermented cabbage) is the most famous and common of all the varieties and compliments homemade curried beef patties like nothing else. Korean Kim Chi, which is usually a spicy blend of cabbage, carrot, apple, pear, ginger and chilli, is my personal favourite with a juicy steak.  Kim Chi can take some working up to as it can be very spicy but once you are used to it, you will be addicted.

A natural probiotic, fermented foods improve digestion. Fermenting foods is essentially partially digesting them before we eat them. They also restore proper bacteria in the gut and are rich in enzymes. These enzymes enable us to properly digest, absorb and make use of our food. Put simply, we can ingest a huge amount of nutrients but unless we are actually absorbing them they are of no use.

Aside from the health benefits, fermenting foods preserves them, is cheap to do (once you know how) and adds a whole lot of flavour to your meals.

The process of fermenting vegetables (also called lacto-fermentation) isn’t difficult; however I would suggest using a culture starter to achieve a more consistent product. There are natural bacteria in the air and on vegetables at any given time and with a little salt and water fermentation can be achieved (this is how it has been done for thousands of years) but this can be a bit of a hit and miss affair. Most culture starters will include a basic recipe/instruction for the process but as you become more experienced with fermentation try experimenting with different spices, vegetables and even fruits. The products sold at stores are quite expensive considering they are really so cheap to make, it just requires a little time and some loving care, however once you have mastered the art you will save yourself a fortune, greatly increase your stomach health and really bring your food to life.

I would highly recommend you explore the world of fermented vegetables, get an idea of what suits your palette and then try and incorporate these type of vegetables into your diet on a regular basis. There are a host of reasons to be eating fermented vegetables, and in terms of ‘superfoods’ this truly is one.

 

kim chi steakHere is a basic recipe for Sauerkraut, I’ve added a few extra ingredients, I love the extra flavour.

Ingredients

1 x head of cabbage (red or white/ or half of each)

2 x medium carrots

5 cloves garlic

1tbs juniper berries

1tsp each of dill and caraway seeds

2 bay leaves

1 tbs peppercorns

1 pkt culture starter mix

Method:

In 1 cup of water warm dissolve 1tbs honey and the culture starter mix. Cover this and allow to begin to ferment. Don’t worry about the honey, the bacteria will feed on this and by the time your vegetables are ready for consumption there will be no sweetness, the bacteria would have already consumed and utilised the honey for reproduction.

Shred/slice the cabbage, carrots and garlic (if the vegetables are too fine the finished product will be like mush. 1cm slices of the cabbage, 3mm x 3mm sticks of carrot and garlic slices2-3mm thick). In a large bowl mix the vegetables with the spices until well combined.

Firmly press the vegetables into an airtight (sunlight free jar/ ideally a fermenting crock). Pour your starter mix onto the vegetables and continue to press down and add more water unti the vegetables are fully submerged and atleast 5cm from the top of your jar/container. Using a small plate or something similar weigh the vegetables down to ensure they remain submerged the entire fermentation.

Leave the crockpot/ jar at room temperature for 7 days (ideally about 20-22’C). Do not open the crockpot during this time. After the week, harvest (or jar) your vegetables. At this time I stir through some dried seaweed flakes, usually dulse or nori. This will assist creating a nice saltiness in the creation. Your vegetables will keep in the fridge indefinitely.

Enjoy in good health

Daniel Barrett

Aussie Paleo Chef

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Is eight straight hours of sleep normal?

maia sleepHere’s the situation: You wake up half way through the night (usually to go to the toilet) and then spend a couple of hours tossing and turning in bed trying to force yourself back to sleep. I’ve had this happen to me for as long as I can remember, and it always used to cause me great stress, which in turn kept me up at night. I was so worried about get the mythical ’8 hours of unbroken sleep’ that I’d have trouble getting to sleep at all. But is it really necessary to get eight straight hours?

Finally about 18 months I decided not to fight it anymore. If I woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t go back to sleep then I’d get up and do something (usually work related, or reading – basically something where my mind was active not passive like watching TV). I found that after an hour or two I would usually fall back asleep quite easily. Further to this I also stopped trying to get 8 hours total sleep per night and just started sleeping until I felt I’d had enough.

The result of this change was that I wake up now more often than not feeling restored and ready for the day ahead. Turns out I may not be that weird. I recently read this article from BBC magazine title ‘The myth of the eight-hour sleep’. In it the author, Stephanie Hegarty explains that there are many historical examples  of this two separate chunks of sleep.

Natural sleep patterns, or cycles,  have us coming in and out of different states of sleep throughout the night. The different levels correspond to different states of mental activity and awareness. Most importantly for recovery are the level 4 and REM states of sleep. Level 4 is the state where the body recovers, sending blood to the muscles to aid in repair, whereas REM sleep, where we dream, is where we sort and store information that we’ve picked up throughout the day and helps with restoration of our cognitive ability.

We ‘cycle’ through these various states through out the night (4-6 times on average), however the majority of Level 4 sleep (physical recovery) is happening in the first half of sleeping and the majority of REM sleep (mental recovery) is happening is happening in the second half. It makes sense that perhaps these are two different macro cycles or patterns of sleep.

wake-up-early-sleep-cycles

Of course this is based on my experiences and could be totally different for you, but it may be worth experimenting with. But if you do find yourself awake in the middle of the night what’s the harm in squeezing in a bit of extra work? I often find it is one of the best times to get things done. No emails or status updates to distract me and with the knowledge that the rest of the world is sleeping, I often feel ‘untethered’ and more creative. At the very least it’ll probably help you stress less about not being able to sleep, and that’s never a bad thing.

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