Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Pesto

This is another recipe that Jewel chose from The Primal Blueprint Reader Created Cookbook, and it was another great choice! I’m sorry that I didn’t take more pictures of the preparation. I was so hungry that night that I didn’t think about it.

The important thing to keep in mind about this recipe is that the pork needs to marinade for at least 2 hours before you cook it. I frantically cut up the pork and had Jewel throw together the marinade before she had to go to school and I had to go to work.

That evening I concentrated on frying up the pork and Jewel was in charge of the pesto. We used 1/2 cup of coconut milk and did not use honey. The next day the sauce was thicker but still soft. It tasted good on everything, included the steamed cauliflower I ate the first night we had it. I fried the pork in bacon grease. I see so many recipes that call for olive oil for high heat cooking, but olive oil should only be used in low heat cooking. Dora doesn’t usually like pork tenderloin, but I dubbed this “bacon pork” and she gobbled it down. She even requested it for leftovers the next day!
The following evening I made a side dish Jewel had requested from the same cookbook, zucchini chips. Of course I did the fast version since it was a week night.

Dredge sliced zucchini in an egg and then coconut flour. The food processor makes short work of slicing. Place on baking sheet or broiler pan.

These were yummy. Even Tom liked them, and he doesn’t usually like zucchini.

My meal also included Swiss chard and peas and carrots.

The Perfect Pork Tenderloin

My husband’s specialty is Dry Rub Pork Tenderloin. Since this recipe is rather low on instructions, we’ll show you how it’s done.

Since we were roasting 2 tenderloins, T doubled the amount of spices except the chili powder. The girls think it’s too spicy otherwise.

The recipe states to cook this on the grill, but we generally roast it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 – 375, depending on what else you are making. Place the pork tenderloin(s) on a baking sheet. Brush one side with the seasoning mix. Place on the middle rack. After 10 min, turn the tenderloin(s) over and brush seasoning mix on the other side. Return to oven. After another 10min, start checking the internal temperature.

At 140 it will be juicy and pink inside. Transfer to serving platter.

While T made the meat I made the vegetables.

To roast asparagus, pop the woody bottom parts of the asparagus off. Since this asparagus was so thick I steamed it for 5min in the microwave, but I don’t normally do that. Pour some olive oil into a roasting pan and roll the asparagus around in it. Sprinkle with sea salt and lavender. Place in the oven at 375-425, depending on what else you are cooking and how crispy you like your asparagus. Check on it and flip it when you think about it. It takes 30-45 min depending on your taste.

I also roasted portobello mushroom caps. I start them gill-side up and drizzle a combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil on them. I flip them after about 10min and add more oil & vinegar if they look dry. These take 20-25 min.

Daughter#2 doesn’t like any of those veggies, so she made herself some carrot sticks.

My dinner.

After dinner daughter #1 and I made cashew butter. I haven’t been able to find any raw cashew butter, so we decided to make our own. By this time I was tired of taking pics, but there’s not much to this. Dump a bunch of cashews in your food processor. Grind until it forms a coarse meal. Slowly add almond oil (or oil/fat of your choice) until it turns into cashew butter. Add salt if you wish. We decided we liked it unsalted. This is cheaper than the prices I saw for raw cashew butter online.

Day 9 Challenge

Success Score: 8

Track Macronutrient Intake:

I’ve been tracking my calories and macronutrients on Lose It! since the beginning of October. I had been gradually picking up a few pounds over the past couple years ( largely due to the availability of high-gravity beer in Alabama), and after my injury I picked up a few more. Logging my food made all the difference. I lost the weight easily and have kept it off over the holidays. Lose It! has a smart phone app that makes logging food easy, fast and even fun. They also have great support through the forums.

Anyway, I am pleased that I stayed within my maintenance calories, and I am pleased with my macros. Note how high my fiber intake is without eating any grains, much less supplementing with bran or psyllium fiber. If I were trying to lose fat I would decrease the calories from carbs and keep the rest the same.

Increase Daily Movement Part 2

  1. Walked over to the hospital 3x,
  2. Took the stairs twice
  3. Got up frequently throughout the day and ran minor errands around the office
  4. Used my inversion table

Hardest part: limited on stair climbing because of back

Best part: I have started to feel uncomfortable when I sit too long.

Summary Comments
Daily energy levels: 8
Daily hunger between meals: 8
Daily satisfaction with meals: 10
Struggles: fasted for labwork, didn’t fully recover until after lunch
Benefits from Primal lifestyle: spending more time with family
Highlights: getting the good news from my doctor that I am not out of options for my back
Needs-to-improve: pain management


No Labels Challenge

Day 8 Challenge
Success score: 3

No Labels Challenge – avoid any foods that have a label on them
Hardest Part: It’s January, so the farmers markets are not currently open. I was limited to what I could purchase at a grocery store. I did stick to all whole foods though, which I don’t consider a sacrifice.
Best Part: I ate even more veggies than usual today.
Comments: See my food choices today below:

Breakfast: I heated up the rest of the veggies from the Chicken Cacciatore and added 2 poached eggs and a turkey sausage.

Snack: I just can’t feel too guilty about this yogurt. I paired it with frozen organic raspberries and sliced almonds.

Lunch: Hamburger with blue cheese & tomato slices in a lettuce wrap, raw veggies, San Pelligrino mineral water. I buy my veggies whole & cut them myself. It saves money and nutrients. The burger was made from grass-fed beef from a local farmer.

Snack: mixed nuts. I take my own glass containers to Earth Fare and Fresh Market and purchase nuts and seeds in bulk, so no packaging! No I didn’t eat all of this…

Dinner: Lamb chops, collards, Brussels sprouts & sweet potato pilaf, coconut cream pie for dessert. Lamb chops are a super easy weekday meal. Costco sells good-quality lamb chops at a reasonable price. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and dried rosemary, then broil 4 min per side for med-rare. The girls were very excited that we were having lamb chops for dinner.

Daughter #2 doesn’t leave anything but the bone (she also cleaned off her sister’s bone).

She really appreciates the meat aspect of the Primal diet. She finished off the bacon this morning so I wouldn’t waste it in some vegetable dish.

Sprint Workout
Success score: 0
Comments: I’m still having severe back pain.

Tiptoe into the Barefoot World
Total time spent barefoot: none. Going barefoot or in unsupportive shoes aggravates my back.

Summary Comments
Daily energy levels: 9
Daily hunger between meals: 4
Daily satisfaction with meals: 10
Struggles: continued back pain
Benefits from Primal lifestyle: sharing recipes with friends
Highlights: how excited the girls got about the lamb chops
Needs-to-improve: pain management

The Lazy Omelet

I started writing this last night, but I was in too much pain to finish it.

I awoke groggily, the remains of the midnight dose of Percocet trying to talk me into staying in bed. I forced myself into the shower. I had cooking to do.

Ok, a bit of background here. Although I love to cook, I have no interest in cooking as an arts and crafts project. Feta-stuffed dates is about as fussy as I’ll get preparing food. Omelets are fussy: they require 2 pans, and if you don’t flip them just right (I never do) they look terrible. Therefore I make frittatas instead.

You don’t need a recipe for a frittata. (However, if you want a great sounding recipe, check out today’s Mark’s Daily Apple)  Use whatever veggies, cheese and meat you have handy. It’s a great use for small portions of leftovers. I do recommend using a small amount of chopped onion no matter what else you add. Oh, and a cast-iron skillet is a must!

Sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat. Place an oven rack as high as will accommodate your skillet and preheat the oven on low broil.

When onion is golden, add chopped garlic if desired.

I sliced these baby portobello mushrooms and added them to the skillet.

Next I added some leftover steamed spinach. You could also use raw spinach.

If you want to use cheese, grate it or crumble it into the eggs. I used feta this time.

Pour the egg and cheese mixture into the skillet, increase heat to med or med-low depending on your stove. Let cook until the edges start to solidify. Then pick up the edges with a spatula and tilt the pan so some of the liquid mixture on top goes to the bottom of the pan.

When the frittata is mostly solid but the top is still wet, place skillet in oven for 1-2 min. If you want to add tomatoes, place the tomato slices on top now.

The frittata will puff up and brown in the oven.

Friday’s breakfast. I topped my frittata with salsa. Avocado slices are good too, but I didn’t have any.

Day 5 Journal
Success Score: 4

Modern Foraging
Meal: dinner
Location: Mom & Dad’s
Hardest part: passing up sea salt dark chocolate covered caramels
Best part: lots of fresh food simply prepared
Comments: We had a delicious, healthy, Primal-friendly meal! I wish I had remembered to take a picture of it! We ate baked salmon, sautéed asparagus, creamed spinach and a salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I enjoyed a glass of red wine but passed on dessert.

Abbreviated PEM workout
Comments: unable to work out related to severe back pain all day.

Active Couch Potato Rebellion
Activity: a slow-paced 30min walk on my lunch break.
Activity: walked over to clinic and took the stairs, stood while I waited for the doctor
Activity: at least every 30min I got up and walked around the office for a few minutes, checked the fax machine & printer, did my dishes, etc.
Longest sedentary period without break today: 30min
Hardest part: I was in severe back pain all day, so I didn’t really want to move around.
Best part: Making myself move around is probably better for back though it didn’t seem to help.
Comments: In order to accomplish this, I set the timer on my phone for 30 min each time I sat down.

Summary Comments
Daily energy level: 6
Hunger level: 4
Satisfaction with meals: 10
Struggles today with Primal efforts: back pain did not allow me to work out
Benefits noticed from Primal efforts: none
Daily highlights: eating wonderful food at Mom & Dad’s that I didn’t have to cook
Daily needs-to-improve: back pain

Pain Management

Today started out on a good note. I don’t really mind getting up at 4am to work out. It is dark and quiet, so in spite of my alarm it is a peaceful awakening. When I walked into the kitchen I briefly wondered what the fabulous smell was.

Then I remembered the chicken stock! It had turned out perfectly, gorgeous golden color and clarity.

The resolution crowd doesn’t get up this early, so I was able to get my work out done at the neighborhood gym before it got busy and loud. When I got home I made homemade turkey sausages.

This was my breakfast:

Who needs toast?

My back started hurting as soon as I got to work and steadily worsened throughout the course of the day. Like any good chronic back pain patient, I am allergic to all NSAIDs, so I have to wait until I am safely at home to take anything for pain. All I can do at work is apply an ice pack. I was hoping to attend a hot yoga class after work, but I ended up working too late. After reading this article, I’m not sure I need to do yoga at all anyway, especially the more challenging classes.

Day 4 Journal
Success score: 4/10

Honor Hunger
What times did you eat? 0415, 0630, 0930, 1130, 1430, 1730, 1850 (and I will need a bedtime snack)
Hardest part: I really am hungry that frequently! I can’t see myself ever practicing intermittent fasting.
Best part: There was no best part.
Comments: I think that every diet I have ever tried promised me I would not be hungry. I call bullshit.

Aerobic Adventure
Location: neighborhood gym
Activity: intervals on the Lifecycle
Duration: 30 min
Comments: Ok, this just pissed me off. The author specifically said to start this program on a Monday to take into consideration when the weekend falls. One of the recommendations was to rent a stand-up paddle board! I was supposed to try something new, but I’ve tried every piece of cardio equipment in the gym, and I don’t have the sort of job where I can leave for a couple hours in the middle of the day to go inline skating or snow shoeing. Sorry, Mark, the rest of us aren’t self-employed authors living in Malibu. Get real.

Stand-Up Work Station
Modifications made: none needed. I stand quite a bit at work as it is, more than my back can handle on some days.
Total time standing up: too busy doing my job to time it
Longest stretch: too long, according to my back
Hardest part: debilitating back pain
Best part: I do like that I don’t spend the whole day at my desk. Sitting in one position all day isn’t good for back pain either. It also helps my mental health to get outside several times a day.

Daily energy level: 7
Hunger level between meals: 8
Satisfaction level with meals: 9
Struggles today with Primal efforts: hunger, back pain
Benefits noticed from Primal efforts: had enough energy to make it through the day despite the pain
Daily highlights: “discovering” the chicken stock in the slow cooker
Daily “needs to improve”: need to take more food to work

An experiment in Primal living

OK, let’s see if I can make a habit of blogging, then we’ll see about changing the direction of this blog. To recap 2011: the spring was very busy with the girls’ Lacrosse season.  I also traveled quite a bit for work, and we went to Arizona for Spring Break.  During the summer I had a fabulous time training for an Olympic distance triathlon with a great group of friends.  Then in August, about a week before the race, my back went out.  I have not recovered.  My scoliosis has finally caught up with me, and I have severe arthritis in my lower back.  I spent the fall struggling to make it through a day of work.  So grocery shopping and cooking went out the window, much less all the extras such as making homemade yogurt, cottage cheese and bread.  Beggars can’t be choosy.  The cooking fell to my husband and daughters.  Last month I had an epidural steroid injection, and I am doing somewhat better.

I’m not content to spend the rest of my life as an invalid, as a burden to my family.  Therefore I am launching a last-ditch effort to completely clean up my diet and to start an exercise program to build strength without stressing my body.  I decided on a Paleo/Primal approach.  I liked the diet and exercise plan from Mark Sisson.  His exercise plan is free, and I downloaded The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation for $9.99 to my iPad.  So we’ll see.  I always do better on a lower carb diet anyway.  Today is my first day, and the book has a daily journal to fill out, so I figured this would be as good a place as any to record my entries.

Day 1 Journal                                                                                                                                    Success Score: 4

The whole reason I chose this diet is because I get to eat coconut.

Kitchen/Pantry Purge:

Hardest part: Doing it at all.  Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of my baking supplies or the cereal or granola bars the rest of the family eats.

Best part: There’s nothing in the pantry that looks tempting to me, so I don’t think it’s an issue.

Restock Preparation

Primal shopping resources: EarthFare, Vitacost, Netrition, farmer’s markets when they open back up in the spring

Comments: My husband opened a fresh coconut for us tonight – yum!

Increase Daily Movement

Ways you can increase daily movement over the long term:

1.  Engage the girls in active outdoor activities, practice sports with them during Lacrosse and soccer season

2.  Take leisurely walks with my family

3.  Make sure that I walk to the hospital at least once a day on workdays

4.  suggestions?

5.  seriously, I’m stumped

Describe today’s movement endeavors:

1.  Walked 4.5 miles with a friend on the greenway.  Despite the cold and the wind, we had a great walk!

2.  Does laundry count?

3.  OK, fail on movement.

Primal Essentials

Items acquired today:  I did not shop today.

Comments:  I bought a pull-up bar last month, so I have all the equipment I need for the workouts.  I have mixed feeling about the whole barefoot thing, and I don’t see myself wearing Vibram FiveFingers.  I did purchase a lot of tasty Primal-approved food at EarthFare on Saturday.

Summary Comments

Daily Energy levels 1-10: 8

Hunger level between meals 1-10: 3

Satisfaction level with meals 1-10: 9

Struggles today with Primal efforts: need to get into the habit of moving more and sitting in front of my computer less

Benefits noticed from Primal efforts: decreased hunger, increased energy

Daily highlights: walking 4.5mi in the same time we walked 4mi on Saturday, my girls commenting that building muscle is cool