Things I ate this weekend (spoiler alert: steak)

It’s boring to read about what other people ate. But since many of you aim to eat real food and avoid gut-irritants like I do, maybe this will be interesting despite being about what someone else ate. Also, steak!

So, without further ado, here are some things I ate this weekend.

Overnight no-cook refrigerator oatmeal. I love this easy breakfast and adjust it in the following ways:

  • I multiply the recipe x 1.5
  • I use half coconut milk and half water for the milk portion
  • I don’t add sweetener. It doesn’t need any!
  • I chop up whatever fruit I have and pack it in (or throw in frozen chunks), and add chopped walnuts or pecans


Adult smoothie with frozen berries, coconut milk, and Malibu.

adult smoothie

Blend up a few cups of berries, a glug of coconut milk, and a few glugs of Malibu, and enjoy!

Avocado tuna salad. This is quick and easy and, like the oatmeal, you can toss in whatever you have on hand. I don’t bother with the fancy leave-some-avocado-in-the-shell part, but it would be impressive for company. I’ve added combinations of the following to great effect:

  • chopped onion
  • chopped celery
  • chopped hard-boiled egg
  • chopped tomato
  • chopped walnuts

Seared scallops over zoodles


lemon pepper scallops

seared scallops with zoodles

This dish will be going into the HP household rotation. It seems sophisticated, but is easy to make with great flavors and textures. I don’t know that I had ever cooked scallops before; here’s a useful tip if you’re a scallop newbie too: put the scallops in the pan and don’t mess with them until it’s time to flip them. I’m a compulsive over-stirrer/poker and probably would not have gotten such a lovely sear if I hadn’t read that tip.

Local ribeye steak from The Organic Butcher, with Mustard-Garlic Brussels Sprouts

steak and brussels

I wasn’t crazy about this steak, but Mr HP, who knows better, was. It was too chewy and fatty for my redeveloping meat tastes, but the flavor was good. Mr HP salted the steaks and threw them in the freezer for a bit before grilling on high heat to crisp up the outside while not overcooking the inside. The Brussels sprouts were phenomenal. They were both savory and a bit sweet (due to roasting), healthy, and incredibly simple to make. YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.

A Paleo Frittata

paleo frittata

This recipe is designed for leftovers. I planned on using leftover steak, but we ate it all for dinner, so I used onions, avocado, tomato, and spinach. It was a fun change from scrambled eggs, but it did involve me spending a considerable amount of time staring at the frittata in the oven to see when it was cooked enough but not too much. Presumably I will have to watch it less as I get more frittata experience.

Please share your favorite healthy, easy, tasty recipes with me!

Confessions of a reformed pescatarian

Greetings, confidants.

As you know from reading about my juice cleanse epiphanies, I have been thinking about reintroducing meat into my diet. I’ve determined that beef is my gateway drug of choice: my metaphorical gut does not want chicken, and I won’t argue with my gut (and, interestingly, chicken is the meat I gave up first when I started quitting meat back in the day), and my psyche is not ready for pig.

I knew that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it right and make sure my beef was from a local, grass-fed, humanely-treated cow, so I visited JM Stock Provisions, a new local/organic/happy meat butcher in town, for an expert recommendation.

The butcher was a font of information about the benefits of eating grass-fed (including that grass-fed beef is the easiest meat for a vegetarian’s system to handle?) and talked me through a few different cuts before recommending a flat iron steak from Timbercreek Organics. I left with a lovely little 2-person steak and very specific cooking instructions to pass on to Mr HP, my trusty steak chef and staunch carnivore, who was not familiar with the cut. I was encouraged to see this article, titled “The Flat Iron Steak: Is it really the best cut of Beef?”

flat iron steak

meat-raw meat-pan

Cooking instructions were:

  • preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • salt and pepper both sides liberally
  • heat oil with a high smoke point (rapeseed oil was recommended; we used butter) in a pan to high heat
  • put meat in the hot pan for 3 minutes
  • flip over and put into the oven for a few minutes
  • remove meat to a plate with a foil tent to rest and reabsorb juices for 10 minutes
  • cut the meat against the grain and eat

meat-cut meat-cooked

I was in charge of the side, and tried a new recipe: Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce. I omitted the tallow/lard–baby steps here, people. It was SO good. Make it.

meat-zoodles meat-meal

The verdict: Steak tastes good. There were some chewy gristly bits–of course–that grossed me out, but the flavor and overall texture were pleasing enough to make me want to continue my beef experiment. I tried to keep tabs on my energy levels and athletic performance over the following couple days, and can’t really say I saw impressive physical effects from the protein punch, but I did feel happy and energized and healthy. I should make a graph.

Happy feelings chart

The above graph represents the increase in happy feelings toward steak, zoodles, and avocados I experienced following this meal. I’ve been making zoodles like mad and adding avocados to EVERYTHING.

Lessons learned: The best meat is local, humanely-treated, hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed, free-range, etc, etc, etc, happy meat; everyone needs a julienne peeler for making zoodles; and avocado makes any dish better.

HP in Australia #4: The ethics of kangaroo meat


Fun facts about kangaroos:

  • Their long back legs cannot operate independently. That’s why they hop. When they are moving slowly (can’t really call it a “walk”) they pitch forward onto their T-Rex arms and use their thick tails as support as they swing their legs forward. Here’s a video.
  • A joey stays with his momma for up to 18 months, and in the meantime Mom can have new baby tucked away in her pouch. Kangaroos are the only mammal who can produce two different variations of milk at once, targeting the specific developmental stage of each joey. Here’s more about joeys.

When we went on our Wild Kangaroo Odyssey last week (see #4 in my Perth Favorites list–they are not in any particular order btw), the ever astute Mr. HP asked our gracious tour guide where kangaroo meat comes from–are there kangaroo farms in Australia? We were pleased to hear that no, kangaroos are not farmed; kangaroo meat comes from wild kangaroos shot by licensed hunters. Seemed ethical to us. But as I read more, I learned it’s not that simple.

Kangaroos are recognized worldwide as Australia’s mascot. They are protected by state and federal law, and appear on the federal coat of arms. They are also a nuisance to farmers, gardeners, and drivers, and lack natural predators in an urbanized environment, similar to white-tailed deer on the East coast of the US (watching the kangaroos, they reminded us a bit of deer). As with deer back home, hunting helps to keep the kangaroo population in check. The Australian government has strict regulations regarding hunter licensing and kill quotas, and only permits hunting in areas where kangaroos have been declared a nuisance. The quotas are reviewed yearly, based on population trends and climate predictions, with conservation of the species the most important objective. Kangaroo meat is touted as a leaner, hormone- and antibiotic-free alternative to beef, and more environmental: wild kangaroos require far less water and release much less methane than farmed livestock.


For people who are not against kangaroo meat, there is a movement called kangatarianism, which prescribes following a vegetarian diet with the addition of kangaroo meat, since “Australian kangaroos live natural lives, eat organic food, and are killed humanely.”  There’s also a similar cameltarianism movement! Bonus points for great names–and who knew there are feral camels in Australia?

So, as with everything, it’s up to the consumer to understand the issue and make an informed decision for herself on the ethics of kangaroo meat. What are your thoughts?


Pescatarian no more.

I voluntarily ate half a piece of this for dinner last night:
chicken - before

(after it was cooked)

I’ve been mulling it over for a while now: perhaps if I got more protein I’d see improvements athletically and in my daily energy levels. I am loath to add to the million eggs I eat per week, and for whatever reason I don’t cook fish very often. Experimenting with chicken seemed logical, if I could get past my meat-related issues.

Saturday morning at the City Market we stopped at the Tall Cotton Farm table, our attention caught by their heritage Thanksgiving turkey advertising (is it really October already??), and left with some pastured chicken breasts for the Grand Chicken Experiment.

chicken - after

It had been about ten years since I ate chicken. Since becoming a pescatarian, my thoughts on the ethics of eating meat have evolved to the point where I have no theoretical problems with the consumption of happy (humanely treated, pasture raised, drug free), local (the farmer is accountable to the customer, and the environmental impact is small) meat. But chicken was (oddly?) the first to go when I initially quit meat, and my memories of its taste and texture have not mellowed over time, so I was nervous.

To go with the chicken, I made a hearty rainy day soup based on a Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup recipe, adding a ripped up bunch of Red Russian Kale leaves (locally grown, purchased at Feast) and leaving the skin on the butternut.

butternut lentil soup

Coincidentally, I had just read about Red Russian Kale in this review of the Crazy for Kale cookbook when I was browsing the produce at Feast, so I HAD to add it to my soup, and it was a great addition. Even Mr HP, who usually doesn’t appreciate it when I go off-recipe, raved about the soup.

How was the chicken, you ask? It was… ok. The taste was nice (and not how I remembered it at all!), but the chewier-than-fish consistency will take some re-getting used to. I’ll keep at it. Energy and strength gains TBD.

London’s Smithfield Market

If you’re a market nerd and lover of quirky architecture like me, you’ll love visiting this slightly-off-the-tourist-path gem in London. It’s just a stroll from St. Paul’s (walk down Leather Lane on weekdays to check out the vendors and few food trucks) and near the Barbican and Farringdon tube stations. Go early to see the action–the market closes at 7am. If you miss opening hours, like I did, you can still walk down the wide main corridor and read the informational signs describing the history, and marvel at the architecture and colors. If you want to learn more about Smithfield Market, read on…

Smithfield Market

Smithfield Market is the largest and oldest wholesale meat market in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. Also called London Central Markets, it houses a wide central aisle flanked by 43 temperature-controlled stalls. The market opens at 3am to sell meat, poultry, cheese, and some prepared foods mostly to London restaurants, caterers, and hotels, but anyone may shop there.

Smithfield Market

The site of Smithfield (from “smooth field” for grazing animals) Market has housed a livestock market for over 1000 years–in addition to hosting witch burnings and executions. Before trains, fresh meat arrived at the market on foot, losing valuable weight over the journey. It was estimated that a cow walking 100 miles would lose 20 pounds along the way. Animals began arriving by rail in the mid-1800s, and in the 1868, the current market buildings opened, designed by City Architect Sir Horace Jones, who also designed Tower Bridge. The railroad ran directly beneath the building, allowing for easy transfer of meat from trains to the refrigerated vending stalls, and facilitating movement of fresh meat to consumers around the country.

Smithfield Market

Smithfield Market

Smithfield Market may see some big changes soon, as plans have been submitted to the City of London to convert the market into a mixed used commercial development, with restaurants and retail on the ground floor, topped by six levels of offices. This is not terribly surprising; the prime location is amidst tourist and business districts.

Smithfield Market

The market is open on weekdays from 3am to 7am, but visitors may walk down the central avenue and read the historical signs at any time of day. The area around the market is full of shops, bars, and restaurants, far from what you’d expect to see surrounding a livestock market. It’s worth a visit; I’m looking forward to seeing the market in action next trip!


Happy meat vendor news, and a couple interesting meatless/gluten-free recipes

I don’t eat meat, but have no problem with meat-eating, provided the animals were treated humanely and responsibly. Most people I know do eat meat, however, so I’m happy to promote happy meat options to them and to you. I eat a paleo-esque diet; Paleo dictates that you don’t eat food that has added chemicals that can screw up your system, and emphasizes that you are eating what the animals you eat ate. [One of my favorite quotes is “You are what what you eat eats,” from Michael Pollan.] Therefore, followers of the diet are careful to eat pasture-raised, antibiotic free animal products. This week I saw two posts on Paleo blogs about happy meat purveyors, and wanted to help spread the word.

Whole9 wrote about Pastoral Plate, a San Francisco-area meat CSA, offering local, natural, humanely raised meat and animal products. They visit the farmers regularly to learn about how the animals are raised and what they are fed, ensuring the products sold through Pastoral Plate meet their high standards: They’re pasture-raised, eat organic food, and are finished on the farm rather than a feedlot. Pastoral Plate also hosts workdays on their partner farms, and facilitate small loans from customers to the farmers. They’ll soon be shipping nationally, so happy-meat seekers from outside the SF area can enjoy Pastoral Plate products, and there’s a coupon on the Whole9 writeup. But, of course, if it’s available, purchasing happy meat locally is more environmentally responsible than having it shipped, and supporting your local farmers is good for your community

Another happy meat vendor was profiled by Melissa at The Clothes Make the Girl. TX Bar Organics raises grass-fed beef in a “calm low stress environment” in Northern California. In addition to caring about the animals, they care about people: they have made a pledge to donate one pound of meat to needy families for every 20 pounds sold; and they care about the environment: they practice sustainable agriculture through careful maintenance of their pastures. Melissa is giving away a $75 gift card to TX Bar Organics, with a deadline of tomorrow night (July 2) at 11:59pm, so sign up quickly if you’re interested! Same caveat as above though– if you have local happy meat purveyors, you should look to them before shipping meat from far away. Melissa is also known for her Paleo recipes, so while you’re on her blog, check ’em out!

And speaking of recipes, here are two I can’t wait to try. They are both meatless (but you can add meat, of course) and gluten-free.

First, a quick and easy curry, from Legal Nomads, with veggies and chickpeas and coconut milk, oh my. I think the first time I try it I’ll cheat and use curry powder instead of all the individual spices, to make it extra quick and easy. Jodi added a note at the end with instructions for adding meat, if desired.

And second, zucchini noodles in a thai peanut sauce, from Eating Bird Food. Using zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash is a delicious way to make gluten free “pasta” dishes, and anything with a peanut sauce makes me happy.

Now I must go eat lunch. I am starving.

What exactly is deli meat?

The fact that “real turkey breast” is a selling point that needs to be advertised gave me pause: what is turkey breast usually made from, if it’s not real turkey? What about other deli meats?

According to an MSNBC article on deli meats, there are three types: whole animal sections that are cooked and then sliced (examples: roast beef, corned beef, turkey breast), sectioned and formed products (example: ham), and processed products (example: bologna).

The first category of meat, whole cuts, is just meat–often with added salt or sugar, and preservatives, as the large surface area needs more protection from bacteria. This type of cold cut is presumably what the cafe above is advertising.

From here the water gets murkier. The second category of deli meats, sectioned and formed, is made from chunks of meat bonded together with proteins, meat emulsions, or non-meat additives, then molded and cooked to shaped it into its new form.

But most cold cuts fall into the third category: processed meats. The technique is similar to that for section and formed meats, but more extreme: the meat is essentially turned into a mush, mixed with additives (sometimes including possible carcinogens, such as nitrates; non-meat animal parts, such as lips, tripe, stomachs and hearts; or MSG), squeezed into a casing ala sausage, and cooked into shape.

The MSNBC article lists and defines many cold cut additives. Yum.

This article lists 15 things you should know about lunch meat.

So, to summarize, and perhaps you’ve heard me say this before: know where (and what!) your food comes from! Read labels and eat real food.

Random happy-farming news

I have a zillion articles waiting to be read! Here are a few blurbs I’ve enjoyed as I work through my pile of mail:

urban farming trend

From Heifer International‘s WorldArk magazine: Urban farming, in the form of windowbox gardens and backyard chickens, is on the rise in the US.

Also in WorldArk, scientists are experimenting with growing meat from stem cells, hoping for a cleaner process for mass-producing meat.

Gotham Greens

From the JW Townsend, a landscape contractor in Charlottesville, VA, newsletter, a blurb about Gotham Greens. Gotham Greens grows produce in rooftop greenhouses in Brooklyn, and supplies NYC markets and restaurants with local, sustainable food.

Switch to grass-fed beef

From Reader’s Digest, Feb 2012: an article called “The 20 Tips Health Pros Beg You Not to Skip.” Number 19, from a psychiatrist, is “switch to grass-fed beef,” for the health benefits.

Hyatt commits to cage-free eggs

From Mary Jane’s Farm, Aug-Sept 2011 issue, good news that Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is switching to cage-free eggs. That’s 2.4 million eggs fewer per year coming from battery cages.

Facebook CEO's Food Challenge

And finally, from the same Mary Janes Farm issue (yes, a bit outdated, but still an interesting read), a paragraph about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s personal mission to learn more about sustainable farming and meat animals. The only meat he ate last year was from animals he killed himself.

That was the easy stuff. I have a stack of Foreign Affairs magazines staring me down. I’m halfway through The Globalization of Animal Welfare; comments to come soon!

Eating animal products responsibly

Eating meat and dairy responsibly can be challenging: always reading labels, asking questions of waitstaff and proprietors, researching stores and brands. I rely on a collection of web sites to help me find my way, and a notable one is The Whole9, a health and wellness site that preaches a very paleo way of eating.

Yes, paleo followers eat a lot of meat, but they pay close attention to the composition of the meat, as any added hormones or chemicals are transferred from the meat to the eater, and the healthier the animal and more natural and higher quality the animal’s diet, the more nutritious the meat or dairy product. The treatment of the animal is important too, since stress dumps bad hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream, and from there into the meat.

The Whole9 has a ton of really good information about eating healthy meat and eggs. They believe dairy products are irritants and cause health problems, so they don’t address milk, cheese, etc in their articles, but the same rules apply: get your dairy from happy, healthy, naturally raised animals.

Without further ado, here are some useful references to help you along your merry responsible consumer way!

  • The Conscientious Omnivore from The Whole9: A great overview of the importance of eating healthy, happy, well cared for and humanely slaughtered animals.
    • The Conscientious Omnivore: Eggs  Covers the hidden cost of cheap eggs, and instructs how to read egg carton labels–or even better: find egg that are so fresh and local, their cartons don’t even have labels!
    • The Conscientious Omnivore: From the Sea  Discusses the pros and cons of wild-caught and farmed seafood. Consumers need to use caution when choosing wild fish as many populations are over-fished. Farmed fish presents similar problems as factory farmed livestock: pollution, chemicals, and animals fed unnatural diets. The Whole9 gives seafood recommendations, including “consider farmed salmon your worst choice in any setting.”
  • The Whole9 crew then did all sorts of cross-referencing about mercury content, sustainability, and Omega-3 content to come up with this list of fish recommendations.

Following links from The Whole9 articles led me to these resources:

  • Eat Wild is a directory of local farms selling grass-fed products, and a resource for both farmers and consumers on the how-tos and benefits of pasture-raising livestock. To sum up, they help you to “find out how choosing grassfed products is good for: Animal Welfare, Farmer Benefits, the Environment, and Human Health.” I can locate local grass-fed farms in the Virginia farm directory, or on the Virginia map, and there’s list of Virginia stores, restaurant, farmers markets, and buying clubs with grass-fed products. Look up your state!
  • US Wellness Meats is a consortium of family farms in the central US, raising livestock that’s free to forage on grass at will, and practicing sustainable pasture management. They ship meat, cheese, and butter around the country, and the farmers’ beliefs about how livestock and land should be treated is worth reading.
  • Heritage Food USA, a site selling grass-fed, antibiotic-free regional or heritage meat, is affiliated with Slow Food USA. They have a manifesto worth reading, the gist of which is “We are proud combatants in the fight to promote difference and diversity in a marketplace dominated by monocultures. In this kind of marketplace, animals raised on pasture without antibiotics are hard to come by, as are rare and heritage genetics that evolved naturally rather than from laboratories designed for meat production and fast growth.

There are many, many good resources out there instructing consumers on the importance and benefits of eating responsibly raised and produced animal products. These are just a few; please share your favorites in the comments!

Cheenius in Missoula: The Good Food Store

Special guest post from Cheenius! Thanks, Cheenius!

Good Food Store

Cheenius recently found herself in Missoula, MT and was curious to learn the ways of the Northwestern Locavore.  This rare species, while quite common in cities like Portland, is seldom glimpsed in the wilds of Montana. Luckily, Cheenius got a tip that they might congregate at The Good Food Store; so, armed with a camera and a shopping cart, she went hunting.

Good Food Store bulk bins

Lots of bulk foods!  Cheenius was happy that Montanans are trying to reduce their packaging use.

Good Food Store local eggs

Local eggs, eggcellent.  Well, 78 miles away isn’t exactly local, but it’s better than Iowa.

Organic meat in Missoula

The prices are pretty high, but c’mon!  It’s BUFFALO, how unique is that??  And, you gotta love the “Buffalo Gals” label.  The song connection is probably lost on some of the younger locavores, but still, points for cleverness.

Silent Creations Buffalo Jerky

Speaking of buffalo: Silent Creations Buffalo Jerky, a local company which works with ranchers to ensure the “majestic animals are treated properly throughout their lives, with plenty of room to roam and never subjected to hormones, steroids or antibiotics.”

Larabars in Missoula

Cheenius gets a little scared of new things, so it was nice to see lots of Lara Bar choices (which she first learned about from HP, thanks!).  They’re made in Colorado, so while not exactly local, buying them in Montana felt slightly better than buying them in Virginia.

Good Food Store mission

So, if you find yourself in Missoula, just saddle up and head on over to the good people at The Good Food Store for first-rate locavoring.