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Adventures in Grilling

It’s that time again, folks. Day 1 of a whole new Paleo Challenge is complete. The combination of my slowly-increasing weight, my slowly-worsening asthma, and my mysteriously-shrinking pants is forcing my hand a little bit, and so for the next 2-4 weeks, I’m going hardcore. No sugar, no dairy, no grains, no potatoes, no booze (maybe) no chemicals, no processed anything. In addition, I’m going to make as many smart choices as I can about my actual Paleo food, with three big examples:

1 – Limit the major protein sources to the best available options, whenever possible. Pastured eggs (which The Terrorist may have found a swank $4/dozen deal on) and grass-fed buffalo (I still have 7-8 pounds of ground meat in my freezer) ought to make up about 3/4 of my protein intake. Behind that would be high-quality lean cuts of pork and chicken, and behind that, commercially-bought chicken breast or eggs. Whey protein’s out for the duration. And wild-caught salmon suddenly shot up to $15 a pound at Whole Foods. Blerg.

2 – Limit carbs to post-workout, not to the same extreme as the Carb-Backloading plan, but not eating sweet potatoes all day every day. I’d like to avoid the big starches/root veggies until I’ve finished lifting or sprinting, but we’ll see how that works. Then again, if fruits are the only option for me at some event or lecture, and I’m hungry, I’m going after them.

3 – Good plant-based fats, and lots of them. I’d love to approximate the Perfect Health Diet’s goal of 65% fats in the diet. With 50-100g carbs and 100-150g protein a day, that adds up to 180g of fats a day. But that would require spoons and spoons of coconut oil for frying, generous portions of olive oil on my salads, and plenty of bacon strips with breakfast. I think I’m up to the task.

Here’s how my first day went. Breakfast of bacon and jalapeno eggs was pretty straightforward, and I was able to resist the chocolate that The Terrorist nibbled on with our morning coffee. First hurdle complete. To have some meals on hand for the next few days, I cubed a pound of pastured-raised pork chops and simmered them with red curry paste, 1 bag frozen cauliflower, and a can of coconut milk. Voila, 2 big meals. 70g fat, 12g carb, 45g protein per serving (850 calories).

I snacked on some pecans in the afternoon, and then it was time to grill my last two remaining chops. Keep in mind, I’ve never manned a grill from start-to-finish before. All I knew was from what I had seen other people do. I didn’t grow up grilling, my dad never grilled or barbecued, and in many ways I’m trying to pick up the skills to start a new tradition. So I tried to keep it idiot-proof. I bought ready-to-light briquets (anathema for some people) and lit them in a layer on the grill (not in a pyramid as is often recommended). After about 10 minutes, I put out the flame (another mistake) instead of letting it slowly burn out. I put the grill on top and placed my marinated chops on, and waited.

And waited. There was, of course, no sear, because the coals weren’t hot enough. We put the lid on and let them smoke for 10 minutes, but the heat just wasn’t enough. Oh well. We cut our losses, hoping enough of the smoke flavor would permeate the meat, and brought the whole apparatus to a frying pan (which I definitely know how to use.) I got a very good sear by putting the chops on high heat with the rest of my marinade (1 tsp Tony’s creole seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, juice from half a lime), and it came out… pretty good. Next time: more fire. We might do pork chops again, or we could do buffalo burgers and grill some veggies as well, like green tomatoes and onion slices.

Next time: The Zone, dueling macro-nutrient ratios and “rocket fuel”.



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