Top 5 Mistakes I’ve made (so far) while attempting to live a more evolutionarily appropriate lifestyle

1.  Assuming carbs are evil. Need I say more?*

2. Eating too much fat (liquid fat especially). Diarrhea was a major problem when I ate butter like candy or chugged down a can of coconut milk in one sitting. I even wondered why I couldn’t become leaner while guzzling down 800 calories worth of heavy cream or eating fatty cuts of meat sauteed in more fat. I suspect I am more prone to binging on fats than on carbs. High fat alone (just like refined carbs) also tends to crowd out micronutrients. Fatty steak always beats a bottle of oil.

3. Obsessing over macronutrient ratio while negating micro-nutrients. Now I am obsessed over getting enough magnesium (reaching 2/3 of RDA is a challenge for me) and getting enough fat soluble vitamins and obtaining a nice omega 3-6 ratio. No, it’s not good to be obsessed but far better to be obsessed about something that is more crucially important.

4. Did you know that houseflies puke up their food and gobble it down again? **

5. Forgetting other important aspects of health. How could I have expected to get leaner while over exercising (over-sprinting) or under exercising (over-slothing) and pushing my cortisol levels through the roof? I stayed up late doing assignments I should’ve finished hours or even weeks before. Final exams last year was probably the worst time of my life. I slept on average, only 3-4 hours while frantically reviewing material I should’ve reviewed months ago (at least I didn’t fail any subject). At one point, I did not sleep at all! ***

What I’ve learned (more like obvious stuff I always knew but never followed in practice until I somehow jumped.. err…clawed my way out of the hole):
•    Don’t assume too much; look for ideas that challenge you assumptions; keep on learning
•    Read a lot, think a lot (not tooooo much), put it to practice, experiment, rinse and repeat
•    Health should always come first. Worry about six pack later. Duh.
•    DONT FRICKING PROCRASINATE.****
•    I have a new found respect for house flies

*FYI, I am again on a VLCish diet (transitioning to GAPS intro) temporarily because I am trying to resolve several health issues.
**according to this website: http://www.factsaboutanimals.net/strange-animal-facts.htm
***And I did it without any caffeine! Coffee smells like burnt tires to me.
****I am doing this right now as I type. Must..prep.. for…SAT….oooo look! what’s that shiny thing?
*****just had to type five little asterisks in a row. they’re like starfishes. aren’t they cute?

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New Favorite Food

It’s green on the outside and it’s yellow inside. The sweetish golden flesh is rich in caretenoids. Uncooked, the flesh is hard and not very appetizing. But when it’s cooked..delicious.

Kabocha is its name. This winter squash is also known as Japanese pumpkin or Fak Thong in Thai. It does look like a pumpkin.

Typically, they are available all year long. I can’t get enough of them. I find them very filling despite their low calorie density. Fat will increase the bioavailability of the carotenoids *hint hint*1

Recently, I tried out a couple of recipes with kabocha. First, I made Raspberry Coconut’s chocolate cake. This recipe uses pumpkin as part of  the base-an excellent idea! I  substituted steamed kabocha for pumpkin, desiccated coconut for coconut flour, and gelatin powder for whey. The cake, which is ready after a few minutes in the microwave, turned out great! I’ve made this several times already. It’s also a nice way of using up leftover egg whites.

I’ve made microwaved cakes before. However, without  enough fat, they turned out too dry and airy. With more fat, they tended to sit too heavy in my stomach. I think the key to this recipe is the pumpkin/kabocha. The squash adds extra moisture, resulting in a kickass cake!

Alas, I will have to avoid chocolate for a while since chocolate is not allowed on the GAPS diet.  😦

Searching for more recipes, I came across Comfy tummy’s banana souffles. The title of the post is pretty appropriate: “Souffles are not scary.” I hesitated at first because I had never made souffles before. Beating egg whites into stiff peaks intimidated me (I don’t have a good history with egg whites..)

Nonetheless, I went forth with the souffles. I substituted steamed kabocha for banana, omitted the honey, and added some cinnamon. Beating the egg white until stiff was a bit tiring but it only took 5-6 minutes (I did it by hand). I baked at a lower temp for a longer time: 180 C for 25 minutes. The souffle rose quite a bit. It sank before I could dig in but the top was beautifully browned. I topped the souffle was a bit of cinnamon butter.

Hmm. So good. The texture was light, but not overly so. It’s not something I would make on a regular basis because of the prep required. Still, I would definitely make it again sometime in the near future.

Comfy tummy also has a recipe for kabocha pancakes. I am drooling as type. Of course, I intend to make them!

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1(2004). Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Pubmed, Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15277161

Kickass Chocolate Cake
Based on: Anytime Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon gelatin powder* or other protein powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50-70 gm cooked kabocha/pumpkin/other kind of winter squash

Mix coconut, cocoa, gelatin, and salt. Add egg white and kabocha. Mash up the kabocha and mix the ingredients until even.  Add a little water and mix if the batter is too dry. Microwave for 3-4 minutes.

*I wonder, to what extent does prolonged high heat damage gelatin..

Kabocha Souffle
Based on: Banana Soufflés

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100-150 gm cooked and mashed kabocha/pumpkin/other kind of winter squash
  • lemon juice (roughly from 2 or 3 wedges)
  • salt
  • cinnamon

Great with some meat broth in a cup! wanted to have pic of choco cake but I always eat too it fast and forget to take a picture.

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease baking container with some butter or oil. Mix together in another container: mashed kabocha, egg whites, cinnamon, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

In another separate container (make sure the container and whisk is spotless), beat egg whites with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice until egg whites are stiff.

Add a small amount of the kabocha mixture into beaten egg white and gently fold kabocha in (I used a rice paddle. Spatula works too). Repeat with rest of kabocha. Carefully dump the whole mixture into the greased baking container. Put into oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Kabocha Pudding
This is too simple to be called a recipe…but so yummy. Mix mashed kabocha, raw egg yolk(s), a little salt, and some spice.

One more thing:

This is totally not kabocha related but since I’m writing about food, I’ll describe the simmered lamb I made recently. It’s very simple. Fill a pan with some water (enough water to cook your meat) and throw in some slices of ginger. Bring to a boil and then to a simmer. Toss in thinly sliced meat (lamb or beef is best. pork is okay), chili powder,  and chopped scallions. Salt to taste. Simmer for a few minutes or until meat is cooked through (thinner meat = less cooking time). Serve in bowl and top with fresh herbs- one or more of the following: basil, mint, lemon grass, cilantro, etc.  I topped mine with basil and cilantro. A quick and tasty meal.

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Carnitas

At the grocery store last week, I spotted some cut up portions of raw pork belly. I’ve never cooked pork belly before so I immediately picked up a piece. After searching the web for recipes,  I decided to make Homesick Texan’s carnitas. Carnitas are usually made with pork shoulder but I went ahead with the recipe anyways.

I first scaled down the recipe by 1/3. Originally, I intended to use fresh squeezed orange juice but the orange I was planning to juice disappeared.  I instead substituted with a mixed fruit and vegetable juice I found in the fridge. I wouldn’t drink the stuff but it worked out  quite well for the carnitas.

Alas, I initially did not add enough water. The scaled amount of water covered only 1/3 of the meat because I used a wide frying pan. With little experience in water based cooking, I turned up the heat and let the meat simmer for less than a hour. When I checked again, most of the water had evaporated, resulting in the pork belly frying in its own fat more than one hour ahead of schedule. I quickly added lots of water until it  covered 2/3-3/4 of the meat.

Although the recipe calls for simmering the meat uncovered, I decided to partially cover the pan to slow down the evaporation. I waited about 1.5 hours more for the meat to continue to simmer. Then I removed the cover, raised the heat to medium flame, and let the liquid evaporate. After the water reduced, I turned the meat around to let all the sides fry in the rendered fat.

The final carnitas had a rich, golden brown color. I was actually quite amazed at the color. The simmering liquid, after some time, looked very much like soy sauce! The AGEs formed from the caramelized fruit juice sugar is a health concern but I wouldn’t worry about occasional consumption.

Though the carnitas were slightly tough, probably due to the initial mistake with the amount of water, they tasted very flavorful-especially the yummy fat. Those carnitas were the first carnitas I’ve ever eaten so I don’t know how they compare to more pro carnitas. My tastebuds, on the other hand, simply said, “awesome!”. My mom and sister (wheat and sugar eaters) each tried one piece and said they liked the flavor. However,  they considered the meat too fatty since they dislike fatty meat in general. Boo hoo. I’ll convince them one day.

Carnitas

Ingredients

  • pork shoulder or belly
  • enough water to cover 2/3-3/4 of the meat
  • 1/3 cup fruit juice per 450 g meat (this is the recipe’s ratio but I used 390 g meat with 1/3 cup juice, which was fine)
  • 0.67 teaspoon sea salt per 450 g meat

Cut the meat in sizes of your choice. Place all ingredients in cooking pot (there must be a better word) with thick enough bottom (I used a frying pan but the author of the original recipe used a dutch oven, which is probably a wiser choice).  Bring to a boil , lower the heat,  and simmer, uncovered or partially covered, for 2 hours. Turn up the heat to medium and let the water evaporate, moving the meat around to prevent it from adhering to the pot. When the water has evaporated, flip the meat around so it can brown evenly. Serve and enjoy!

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Food Pic Jumble

Photos are really useful for present and future focused people like me. Browsing though photos often sparks within me a profound feeling of aha! , that day was great or that day was absolute shit or that day I made some tasty food (I do not photograph failed creations).

Western-style Sashimi- Young yellowtail (hamachi), dill, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Very refreshing.

A quick meal- Pork slices cooked in boiling water (meat ended up a little tough, should simmer or poach next time) topped with salted butter, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Cucumber salad with ground seasme, EVOO, lemon juice, and sea salt mixed into paste.

Sweet Potato Fries- Sweet potato, refined olive oil, sea salt. I followed Bookcook's low temp method because my microwave oven hybrid can not handle the high temperatures called for by most recipes. Slightly chewy, not as crispy as I preferred, but still very yummy!

Quiche- Eggs, coconut milk, pork sauteed with sage and onion, and sea salt. Pork + sage = win!

Tuna, avocado, with sweet soy vinegar (not paleo but very unami!) roll and Natto mixed with raw egg yolk, lemon juice, and EV0O

assembled roll

Heavy cream, cooked tapioca pearls, and blueberries. A simple but satisfying dessert.

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Raw Paleo Chocolate Pudding

I must admit, my old recipe for mug brownies is rather mediocre. The end result tastes like eggy chocolate, with a souffleish, un-brownie like texture. The solution? Butter (Of course any animal fat or highly saturated plant oil will do. I have to try bacon grease chocolate one day)! Mixing in some melted butter to the egg+cocoa powder mix and microwaving the goopy mess  turns it into a fast food version of flourless chocolate cake.

The texture can’t be described as brownie like but it’s pretty good. However, the safety of microwaves is debatable. My kitchen lacks an oven (unless you count the microwave’s oven mode) and I wanted to get more raw animal products into my diet.  I decided then to eat the mixture raw.

Whisking the mixture until it takes on a smooth texture takes some time but the end result is worth the sore arm! Very chocolatey and full of nutritious fats. Many of the tribes Weston A. Price studied ate some raw animal products, which likely contributed some part to their great health.

I tend to use the whole egg but you can skip the egg white if you are concerned about the avidin. Just make sure to use less cocoa powder or add another egg yolk. Otherwise, the mixture will end up too dry and clumpy.

Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients (for one serving)

  • 1 whole raw egg or 2 egg yolks
  • 3-5 teaspoons cocoa powder (more cocoa powder= thicker texture)
  • 15-20 gram butter

In a bowl, whisk egg and cocoa powder until smooth. Don’t whisk too hard or cocoa powder will splatter. If the mixture clumps up and gets stuck in the whisk, tap the whisk until the mixture  falls back into the bowl and continue to whisk.

Melt the butter and pour into the mixture. Whisk until the butter is evenly incorporated into the mixture and the texture is to your liking.

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no dairy experiment

I’m rather tired of dealing with constant nasal congestion. Cold weather and pollution seem to worsen the congestion. I’d like to get my palate expanded but that’s not a option for me right now. An ENT doctor examined my nose and basically said that there was no real cure for my problem. He prescribed me antihistamines. I took them for two days with little or no visible effect. I could’ve tried the drugs for a little longer but I’d rather solve the root cause of the problem. Some research then lead me to learn about vitamin C’s anti-histamine activity. Vitamin C is relatively cheap and probably safer, being a water soluble vitamin, than pharmaceutical antihistamines so I’m currently supplementing 500mg-1000mg of ascorbic acid a day.

Additionally, a conventional decongestant nasal spray only gave me relief for 1-2 minutes after which my nose clogged up again. That’s okay since decongestant sprays irritate nasal mucous membranes and cause rebound effects in the long run.

Due to lack of  better ideas, I’m eliminating all dairy except butter for one month to see if a dairy is a culprit. I doubt if I can really assess whether dairy is a contributing factor because temperatures where I live are rising (yay spring). Also, I mostly refrain from dairy and still experience nasal congestion during bi-yearly (summer and winter) visits in a more polluted country.

The cheese in my fridge is smirking at me right now. Lactose Power!

There is of course, no harm in at least trying. I love cream and cheese but maybe a break from them will lead to some improvement. My east Asian ethnicity and the fact that milk gives me obvious GI problems leads me to conclude that dairy is not the most optimum food for me anyway.

Started no dairy: March 20

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An Overview of Malocclusion and Solutions

Underdeveloped dental arches and jaws is a problem prevalent in today’s world. Poor pre-adult diet stemming from lack of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals is the primary cause of malocclusion. Narrow upper dental arches is often associated with lack of space for nasal passages. Mouth breathing results as well as the negative effects associated with mouth breathing.

Undeveloped jaws can lead to problems such as difficulty in chewing food and unbalanced facial appearance.

Malocclusion is also associated with TMJ problems, sleep apnea and other medical conditions.

Orthodontic Treatment

Conventional treatment consists of braces, often accompanied with extractions. Braces, however, only straighten teeth and do not fix problems  associated with narrow dental arches nor do they encourage balanced growth of jaws in growing patients. Extraction + braces, if done without regard to facial profile, can damage the appearance of the face. For example, someone with an underdeveloped lower jaw may be treated by  extracting premolars and pulling the front teeth backwards, resulting in a retracted facial profile. Younger children may be treated with rapid palatal expanders but cases can relapse if proper oral posture is not established.

Though conventional orthodontics can preserve facial profile if done properly, functional orthodontics can give the same result without loss of teeth as well as the expansion of dental arches, and improved jaw growth balance in growing patients. Expansion of dental arches can result in increased airway space and other positive functional changes.

ALF lightwire, Crozat, SOMA are the gentler, least bulky functional appliances. They expand dental arches via continuous light forces.They do not exert extra forces on the jaw so they are not as effective at modifying jaw growth like the appliances below.

Myobrace is a flexible, removable brace mainly used to correct deficient jaw growth in young growing patients. It is worn for a several hours each day and emphasizes proper oral posture. Patients with deficient dental arches are often treated with arch developers prior to Myobrace treatment.

Frankel, Twin block, Bionator,  etc. are removable functional orthodontics designed to encourage the growth of jaws in growing patients with one or more underdeveloped jaw. They can treat class II (underdeveloped lower jaw) or class III (underdeveloped upper jaw) depending on the design and are worn most of the day. However, for class II cases, these appliances exert a slight backwards force against the maxilla, restricting its growth.

Herbst, MARA, etc. are fixed appliances designed to encourage the growth of the mandible in the non-compliant growing patient. However, more recent evidence has shown that these appliances can correct mild class ii cases in young adults as well. But like the above mentioned removable appliances, these appliances also exert a slight backwards force against the maxilla.

Biobloc appliances are removable appliances designed to encourage both jaws to grow forward. They can treat malocclusion of all classes but are most effective when used in young growing patients aged 8-12. The appliances are worn most of the day except for cleaning. Biobloc orthrotropics also emphasizes proper oral posture, that is mouth closed with tongue touching near but not on the upper front teeth. This oral posture properly utilizes the muscles of the face to support the palate and teeth, improving jaw growth and orthodontic retention.

Note about functional appliances in general: In some cases, braces are needed for final alignment after some time in functional appliances. Usually, due to greater dental arch space, the time in braces is shorter than treatment with braces only.

They are of course, many other appliances and expanders. When searching for a orthodontist, it is preferable to choose one focused on facial appearance and on more functional forms of orthodontics that call for expanding dental arches and encouraging the growth of jaws in growing patients.If the practitioner does not mention oral posture, effort should be made to keep the mouth closed and the tongue near but not on the upper front teeth as this will improve efficiency and retention of the treatment. Proper oral posture is a habit that must be maintained throughout one’s life.

Note for the nasal congested: Those who can not breath with their nose  will have trouble with maintaining proper oral posture. Expanding the upper palate can improve nasal breathing. A quick fix, temporary solution that may work for some is the Buteyko method of clearing the nose. To clear the nose with this method, one inhales, preferably with the nose but the mouth is fine too, exhales, pinches the nose, and nods one’s head up and down. Hold the breath. Continue until one feels the urge to breathe but there is no need to hold one’s breath as if one is preparing for a breath holding competition. Inhale and repeat until nasal breathing is established.

Severely underdeveloped jaws in adult patients can not be treated by functional orthodontics alone as adults are no longer growing. Orthognathic surgery is the only way of treating adult patients. Fixed appliances i.e. braces are often used to align the teeth prior to surgery. Osteotomy is one form of surgery. It involves cutting one or both jaws and moving them forward or backward. Distraction osteogenesis, a more recent and less common procedure is another option. It involves cutting the jaw and using a appliance to gradually move the separated bone apart. As the bone move apart, new bone fills in in between, lengthening the jaw bone.

Nutritional Prevention

Weston a. price showed that fat soluble vitamins and minerals are essential for proper development of dental arches and jaws. Poor parental diet causes children to develop malocclusion. Furthermore, the effect is compounded when future generations continue to eat a low nutrient diet. A pre-conception, nutrient dense diet is essential, essentially for the mother.  A nutrient dense given to growing children from parents that followed an low nutrition preconception diet may be able to correct malocclusion in the child. The older the child, the higher the chance that nutrition will not be enough. Therefore, functional appliances should be considered for older children and teens to facilitate proper arch and jaw development along with nutrition.

A nutrient dense diet will not correct malocclusion in adults and non-growing individuals. However, such a diet can support functional orthodontic treatment by possibly enhancing bone remodeling resulting from the expansion of dental arches by orthodontic appliances. Regardless of whether one has malocclusion or not, a nutrient dense diet is essential for preventing cavities and maintaining overall health.

Sources,  Essential Reading

Malocclusion: Disease of Civilization This is just part 1 of 5. Read all of them!

Nutritional and Physical Degeneration Weston a Price’s original work and research, eye opening photos

Cure tooth decay A good book with some helpful info on website; nutrient dense diet it advocates is good for someone who wants a specific protocol

Orthotropics.com Information about Biobloc orthrotropic treatment

Adult Palate Expansion For adults interested in expanding their palates

Anne and Janet’s introduction to The Buteyko Method More information about the Buteyko method

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