07/10/2012

Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

Is it time for Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

Living in the Ice Age is not strictly a paleo food blog.

Living in the Ice Age began as a paleo food weblog as I began my paleo journey. Intrigued by discussion on paleo forums over fringe ingredients, I began experimenting and ran a second weblog alongside: Leaving the Ice Age.

Much of this was incorporated back into Living in the Ice Age when I closed down its sibling weblog, dropping some of the more perverse experiments and bringing through useful entries which included foods that were not paleo: namely, dairy and white potatoes; occasionally, rice and starchy breads based on tapioca flour.

I am not a health nut. I am a fellow who enjoys being outside, walking, running, getting muddy and going home grinning from ear to ear. I have never been to a gym. I do not concern myself with body fat, nor do I formulate my intake or concern myself in the slightest with weights and measures.

Deciding that I was happiest somewhere in the middle, perhaps termed epi-paleo, or the transition period between paleolithic and neolithic, I rebranded as "paleo+".

Living in the Ice Age is a food weblog ... my food weblog, which happens to be ancestral in focus and founded upon paleo from the outset.

Richard Nikoley's post on Free the Animal strongly echoes my own sentiments, albeit with more swearing, and some serious sense I've read from the likes of Chris Kresser and Mark Sissons along the lines of it's not paleo, but does it actually matter?

I've found a template that I am happy with. It is rooted in the paleo diet and as such has flourished, healed me, and become what I trust is the foundation of a long, happy and healthy life.

It is still an ancestral diet. Epi-paleo, perhaps?

Yes, it includes white potato, very occasionally rice, and yes, it includes dairy: fermented and fatty, goat, preferably. I don't apologise, but I should make the distinction when it comes to writing about what it is I do as "paleo". Paleo is more than diet - it is as much about activity, rest and the absence of food; no snacking, occasional macronutrient restriction and intermittent fasting. Paleo is an attitude.

For this reason, I still call what I do "paleo" but like the term "paleo+".

As Richard Nikoley says, paleo is about eating the very best you can get hold or for the price you can afford; beyond that, engage in solid activity, rest up and enjoy the hell out of what it is that you do! Yeah, Mark Sissons says exactly that, too. So does J Stanton ('Live in Freedom, Live in Beauty') and I'm pretty sure Paul Jaminet would concur.

There: my favourite paleo/ancestral authors in summary.

Now, to get to the heart of the matter ...

I don't know whether it is the time of year, having moved house and not quite found my groove or just the food we're eating, but ...

In a word, I'm bored!

Looking back, I found some really exciting food pictures; light, vibrant, full of flavour and appealing. Most recently, I seem to be down the end of a dark alley unable to put together the kind of meals that produce those pictures and not really enjoying what it is that I end up making.

I seem to be eating meat for the sake of eating meat. Yes, it sustains life and arguably, that is the most "paleo" I could be, but ...

It doesn't satisfy my creativity our nourish my artistic flair.

More than once in the weeks leading up to me writing this I have stated on paleo forums that I would quite happily be a shell/fish paleo. Whether in response to a former vegetarian easing in or a picky person who just doesn't like meat, I've been in there saying that they can carry on with a seafood based diet quite happily and taking that all the way, saying that I could happily do that.

So, Living in the Ice Age 2.0?

I love fish. I love shellfish.

Meat? I can take it or leave it. Fillet steak, I love! Brisket of beef, I adore! Lamb shoulder, I adore! Belly pork, likewise. We've come to the understanding that when we do eat meat, we like slow-cooked meat, or we like uncooked, rare at best, fillet.

But, I could take it or leave it. Everything else in between, diced, sliced, minced, shredded, it's only in there as protein - it doesn't inspire me.

Nor am I a big fan of birds, generally, but a slow-cooked stew of chicken thighs is great every now and again. Turkey, like diced meat, has become something that is there for simple protein and very little else - it doesn't inspire me.

My whole life, I've always eaten mostly fish and truth be told, I only really started boosting my meat intake because of paleo and even in my life prior to paleo, my preference was for slow-cooked and fatty cuts, unpopular cuts and offals. The great thing about shell/fish is, it seems to work better with organs than the meat from the corresponding animal. What a win!

I don't intend to go dogmatically paleo-pescetarian. I hate dogma ...

I may well eat fillet steak when out and it's not like I'm going to consider it a "cheat", am I? I may well slow-cook a chunk of beef or mutton for Sunday dinner. I may well shove a stew of chicken pieces into the oven for a ready made dinner on a busy week night.

I am going to return to eating mostly shell/fish.

I feel happier working with fish, more spontaneous, more creative with the ingredients that I have to hand, or don't have to hand, intelligently working around and creating all manner of new combinations. This is the spark, the inspiration and the satisfaction that I get from cooking.

Will I get enough nutrition?

I am absolutely certain that I will. Seafood is protein-rich, balanced in fat and nutrient dense. Seafood provides some of the richest sources of those vitamins and minerals prized by paleo eaters and often sit higher in those lists of Top 10 Sources of Whatever than ruminant meat. In fact, seafood often considered as "supplements" for meat eaters to really pack in long chain omega-3, selenium, zinc and so on. Oysters, clams, mussels, oily fish, even white fish.

It will also be a fun experiment, putting my lifestyle where my mouth is - is a shell/fish paleo diet sufficient? It's pure n=1, naturally, but I'm always up for an adventure.

For whatever reason, meat has drained me.

My culinary creativity has gone down a dead end and my artistic flair is waning. I actually feel refreshed and invigorated by just writing this.

From now on, my mantra will be: fish, shellfish, organs, eggs, veggies and "meat for a treat". Wish me well and I hope you enjoy my forthcoming creations.

Presenting: Living in the Ice Age 2.0 ...

8 comments :

  1. I'm seeing more and more of this sentiment Paul. And I'm glad that we took a fairly liberal approach with chowstalker, because the definition of a "paleo diet" seems to be broadening for many people. We include potatoes or rice or even corn on occasion, and I still consider our diet very much "paleo".

    I'm looking forward to see all the fish, shellfish and organ recipes!

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    1. I guess paleo eaters don't want to be constrained by a "diet" - they've used The Paleo Diet as a foundation, got well, reached goals and then diversified into some areas that are not strictly paleo. That's the bounty and the beauty of life, and there is plenty to be had without eating things that aggressively disrupt our metabolisms and without eating manufactured rubbish.

      It's not cheating to eat real food that might be outside of an arbitrary food list. As Niko said on 'Free the Animal', it's not like paleo is actually paleo anyway.

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  2. this should be interesting, particularly because I don't really know what to do with organs or seafood. I'm expecting more inspiration...

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    1. Hi Joe - Thanks for reading. Alas, this week has been a bit light because I already had a rather meat-full week planned and bought. Monday was a night I had no idea, so made whatever I could scavenge together.

      I've got lots of ideas to come - some will include cream, but in the write-up I'll try to figure out ways to make it more straight down the line paleo.

      Really, the purpose of this was to put a stake in the ground and say, sod it to planning ahead, just buy what is seasonal, available and spark my imagination to put together food by instinct, rather than pre-planned ... which has put me into lazy and uninspiring ways.

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  3. " the purpose of this was to put a stake in the ground and say, sod it to planning ahead, just buy what is seasonal, available and spark my imagination to put together food by instinct, rather than pre-planned ... which has put me into lazy and uninspiring ways."

    I have to agree with this. Pre-planning is "efficient", but becomes boring. It's what a catering company for a mining camp would do, or what a parent of four kids probably has to do, but if you don't have to, then don't!

    I have found my happy medium to be to make sure I always have enough stuff at home so that I can always make something decent, even if it might mean a defrost of something or opening a can of something else 9e.g fish), although I don't use much canned stuff anymore. Having nothing at home increases the temptation to eat out unneccessarily. An by that I mean, you are more likely to go "fast food", than a really good restaurant meal, if it is because the re is nothing at home.

    At the other end of the scale, trying to buy for a week or more ahead becomes a dreary exercise, and pushes towards more processed foods (= longer shelf/fridge life)

    I have partly gotten around this by now fermenting lots of stuff (using kefir whey), and am doing my own cheesemaking, so lots of whey hanging around.

    Still, the boredom can set in, and I find there is nothing better to relieve that than gojng to a good food store, when you are either slightly hungry or are shopping for some occaision. then I find myself "hunting" around the store for not just a good deal, but for something interesting, and my local butcher often has that.

    I am eating fish/seafood more and more, and I do find that it almost "demands" creativity, and that's a good thing.

    Healthy too...

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    1. Keeping an eye on what should be seasonally available is my starting point - buying that, along with anything that is cheap is the way I shop.

      I find Monday evening after work sets me up for much of the week, lunches, too, perhaps a few things to pick up Thursday for the remainder of the week and weekend. That's always worked out for me.

      Between going with what nature decides for me (seasonal eating) and what chance decides (what's cheap, reduced, going off, almost past sell by) gives me such random dice that it's always interesting. Quite "paleo", too, if you think about it.

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  4. Hi Paul
    I applaud your experiment of one and will follow it with interest. We too love fish but don't see a lot of it. We do, however, grow our own meat, poultry and eggs, dairy and veggies so guess what we eat a lot of?
    I've experimented with additions to a Primal/Paleo diet too and for me potatoes don't work. Small amounts of white rice do.
    We eat some organ meat but a cow only has one heart, liver etc. and 200Kgs of other stuff!
    Definately adding you to my list of folks to check in on along with Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf.
    Cheers.

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    1. Hi Dave - Thank you for the kind comments and for considering me along with those great paleo names! I am honoured.

      I think you have hit the nail on the head as to why organ meats are so prized. See you around ...

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