My Quest to Eradicate Cheddar and Become a Healthier Me

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I’m so excited to post about my recent experience Paleo Pen Pals!  They match you up with another member of the Paleo community which provides such a fun interaction with someone you don’t know!  Basically, all you have to mail each other a Paleo ingredient and make a recipe from it!  I remember having pen pals in grade school and being so giddy when I would receive a letter from them.  This giddiness was felt again when I received my Paleo ingredient from Tanya at Feed the Clan 🙂 Her recipe using the star anise that I sent her is here.

I was pretty nervous to do this because, while I love sharing recipes, I haven’t exactly really created many on my own.  Sure, I’ve deviated from other recipes by adding or changing some ingredients, but I haven’t really come up with anything from scratch.  After stressing out about this (#firstworldproblems), I realized that maybe I can still tweak something I know about.  After all, isn’t that how people come up with some recipes in the first place?

So…here is what Tanya sent me:

Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

Tanya told me the Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey was from a local source in her area, which I loved!  I was so excited to see how I could use this in a recipe!  When I tasted it, I was reminded of the red chili powder that my mom often used in her many delicious Gujarati (state in India) dishes.  I’m not sure if it’s very different from what we get at the supermarket in the states, but that was my experience with it.  So basically, this powder was infused into honey and was quite yummy 🙂

I had some home-grown cabbage at home, and my mom had brought some beautiful purple and white carrots from a farmer’s market.  So I decided to make a Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots based off a Gujarati dish I ate growing up.  Usually, my mom never added any type of sweetener or carrots, so I was curious about how this would taste. This recipe can also be made without the carrots.

Spiced Honey Sautéed Cabbage and Carrots

1.5 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup shredded carrots

3 cups shredded cabbage

2.5 tsp Hatch Red Chile Infused Honey

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp sea salt

Dry roast the mustard seeds in a pan until they pop – this increases the mustard flavor in the dish. (You can also add sesame seeds to this if you’d like).  Heat oil in another pot or wok, and add mustard seeds and turmeric. Let it sizzle for a little bit so it’s mixed in well.  Add cabbage and carrots.  Mix this thoroughly so the turmeric covers the cabbage and carrots completely.  Add the honey.  Then cover until the cabbage is cooked but still a little crisp – about 10 min.  Add salt.

Finished product!

Finished product!

And VOILA!  You are done.  At first, I didn’t feel like I tasted the chile flavor.  And it still isn’t as strong as my mom’s, but the point is that it didn’t NEED to be spicy.  What’s really cool is that the honey flavor really makes it yummy and the spicy kick comes at the end.  This can be a great side dish with any meal.  You can also add some chicken, pork, or beef to this dish as well.  I’ve never done it, but I think it would be really great!

I hope you enjoyed my first real recipe 🙂  Paleo Pen Pals was such a fun experience that pushed me to be creative.  I will definitely be doing it again!


No, I’m not re-launching my site or anything yet, but as my thoughts and experiences with my health journey evolve through the way I eat, move, and think, my vision for “Cutting the Cheese” has evolved as well.

Initially, my thought was to create a blog name that would be refer to Paleo and also be punny.  I think I succeeded.  I do have to give credit to a close friend that helped me out, so thank you Jasmy 🙂  Cheese is something I LOVE, so I thought it was a perfect fit! However, as I learned more about Paleo, I realized that, yes, in the strictest sense, dairy isn’t “allowed”.  But, as time went on, I stopped thinking of Paleo as a diet of restriction, and I started to see it as using food for nourishment.  So, given this change, I started introducing dairy in my meals. While I do feel some effects from dairy, I am unaffected in moderation.  So, I haven’t always had to “cut the cheese” out of my diet…however, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to do it figuratively 😉

As I have I started looking at Paleo from a different perspective, I decided to re-brand my blog through a different lens.  I believe most of us know what “Cutting the Cheese” means as an idiom.  If not, feel free to find out here.  The the meaning is funny in the sophomoric sense that many hate to love.  It provokes laughter with a bit of discomfort – literally and figuratively 🙂

Recently, I started a Facebook page to go along with my blog.  I tend to post a few times a day to this page by sharing some personal experiences as well as sharing information that I find helpful from other blogs/pages.  Sometimes I share recipes or just general information about the Paleo way of eating.  However, as I have mentioned before, I do see Paleo as a lifestyle.  At the same time, I see eating processed foods and treating certain physical ailments with drugs, and not nutrition, as a lifestyle too.  Paleo aside, I feel there are  obvious sociopolitical conflicts that serve to profit companies that the modern world just accepts.  This makes me uncomfortable…very uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to believe it.  I don’t want to believe it.  But I have to believe it.  The Food Pyramid, FDA guidelines, GMO’s, yadda yadda are all politically and economically motivated and most of us either want to ignore it, minimize it, or simply believe that the government and big food companies have our best interests at heart. As an individual, I cannot solely change the current political, economic, or food systems.  However, it would be silly for me to not recognize the motivation and manipulation of these systems.  If everyone realized how they were being manipulated, they would probably be uncomfortable.

Another area I have felt passionate about is self-love when it comes to body image and what we think about ourselves.  I have definitely struggled with body image in many ways that I hope to share in future posts.  In the past couple months, I have been able to move past a lot of my insecurities and get to a point where not only do I love myself and my body more than before, but I have also realized that I was making excuses about why I didn’t think I was insecure in the first place.  Again, this was uncomfortable.  Loving who I am, as I am, is uncomfortable.  Do I have a Victoria’s Secret model body? NO.  Have I lost as much weight as I would have initially liked? NO.  A year ago, these answers would have made me very uncomfortable.  But, I’m happy to say, that I’m much more happy in my skin, as is, than before.  Does that mean I don’t want to lose weight or that I don’t think I would be as attractive if I lost more weight? No, not at all.  My priorities have just changed.  My goal is health first, and, as Jason Seib says, to look “hot by accident”.

Lastly, I have started to make some changes in my daily routine to include meditation, prayer, and asking for help when I feel I need support in my life.  Stress management is a huge part of lifestyle and if affects our bodies immensely.  Here is a great summary about stress and adrenal fatigue: The Real Deal On Adrenal Fatigue by Robb Wolf.  Making changes to daily habits is difficult.  After all the Merriam-Webster definition of a habit is “a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way”.  So making changes in our busy, stress-filled lives, especially to slow down and let go of certain outcomes through mediation, prayer, or what have you,  is hard and uncomfortable, but it is also very beneficial.  I’m not talking about being a yogi and sitting on a mountain in lotus position.  These are changes you can make throughout the day in the comfort of your home, but, to do so, priorities have to change.

I’m evolving/re-branding this blog by pushing through uncomfortable barriers and becoming more aware, accepting, and comfortable being uncomfortable!  I still do plan to post recipes, etc to have some balance and fun 🙂

Enjoy and feel free to comment about this change!


I returned from Europe about a week ago, and I had an amazing time!  Here are my top 10 takeaways from the trip:

1. Restaurant service in America is incredible (as compared to London/Paris).

2. Dairy and meat quality in Europe (at least London and Paris) is phenomenal, and most food was very fresh.

3. London is expensive!

4. But visit the Borough Market in London anyways 🙂

5. Paris is beautiful!

6. French food is rich, simple, and delicious.

7. Don’t eat French food if you need to compulsively use Sriracha (or insert other hot sauce) on everything.

8. While, the service in Paris is mostly crappy (compared to the states), most Parisians seem to be ok with it.  Maybe it’s because they aren’t always in such a hurry like Americans. 🙂

9. It’s hard to stay Paleo in Paris and avoid baguettes, croissants, macaroons, and crepes 🙂

10. Biking around in Paris was one of the most adventurous  things I have ever done in my life!

Overall, it was very, very difficult to stay Paleo, especially because of #9.  All the gluten, grains, and alcohol I drank definitely had a negative impact on how I felt physically and mentally.  I also did not have the best quality of sleep because of it.  However, since I have returned, I have a renewed passion for the Paleo lifestyle.  And I feel great!

On to some changes!  As I mentioned in my last post, I am excited to start sharing different material on the blog and just expanding in general.  One change is that I have a Facebook account exclusively for this blog, yay!  So please like Cutting the Cheese on Facebook!  I also made a new twitter account to really focus on primal/paleo/real food nutrition and lifestyle.  My new handle is @cuttingthecheez, so please follow me there 🙂

That is all…for now!


Hello friends!  And now for the guest blog post I promised!  My dear friend Nisha (yes, same name) from high school is a very intelligent woman and a student of food policy – specifically interested in food tourism.  What is that you ask?  Well, I had the same question, which is why I thought that she should tell you!  Currently, Nisha is on a Food Sovereignty Tour in Italy! (which she will explain as well).  I am posting this WAY later than I wanted to, so she is almost done with her trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still donate to her cause (and possibly win some cheese and chocolate!!!)!  This isn’t just a tourist trip to Italy – it’s real, good, meaningful work.  So please read – yes this is much more analytical that what I usually post, which is why I thought it was important to share.  Food isn’t just about cool recipes, etc.  I think it’s important to understand it from a geographical, economical, and political perspective as well – after all, food is a huge part of everything we do!  Enjoy 🙂

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Cut the cheese – but not the Gorgonzola! (Or Robiola di Roccaverano, for that matter.)

Why? Because these delicious cheeses are specialties of the Piedmont region in Italy – birthplace of the Slow Food movement.

And why do I mention this in the first place? Because as a student of Food Policy, I am continuing my education by participating in a food sovereignty tour of just that region. Even after receiving a scholarship, the cost of the trip is still quite high and I am attempting to raise funds from anyone who will give because it is very important to me. Before I explain al this, please know that there are 3 ways you can contribute:

  1. Via http://www.gofundme.com/15wzns
  2. Directly to me (contact me)
  3. By becoming a Food First member*

This is a great opportunity for me on many levels – it is not just a ‘holiday’. I studied Food Policy in London for a year and wrote my thesis on exactly what this trip is about – the people, places and policies that feed us. Importantly, the overall cost of the tour goes toward a fair wage for the small producers, family farmers, entrepreneurs and advocates who help to make this adventure possible.

Piedmont Wine Region

Best of all, you’ll be able to follow me through my blog: http://travelblogee.blogspot.co.uk/ (yes, I know it needs to be updated). Finally, everyone who contributes will be automatically entered in a raffle for a cheese & chocolate package direct from the Piedmont region!

Food Sovereignty Tours is a project of Food First, an organisation that analyzes the root causes of global hunger, poverty, and ecological degradation and develops solutions in partnership with movements working for social change. By becoming a Food First member you will get all the perks of membership but half of your member dues will go toward funding my trip. It’s a win-win! Again, please let me know if this is something that interests you and I will be happy to pass along the information.

If you are still interested, below is a bit more of my thoughts on the nexus of food, agriculture, tourism, sovereignty and policy…

As a student of Food Policy at City University London, food sovereignty is one of the many issues I have come across in my readings and discussions. It is an important alternative food movement that is quickly gaining ground not only in developing countries, but also in more industrialized nations such as Italy and Spain.

My interest lies more on the food & agritourism side of the Food Sovereignty Tours; indeed, my MSc Food Policy dissertation (thesis) is an exploration of the contribution of food & agriculture tourism to modern food policy in the United Kingdom. Several months of research has sparked in me a keen interest in tourism, especially related to agriculture, food, gastronomy, etc., and tangentially, sustainable, responsible and eco-tourism. Beyond this, I am intrigued by the policies that address, as well as fail to take into account tourism and agriculture/food as sectors that contribute substantially (in a positive way) to a region’s economic health.

In the past, tourism has acquired a negative reputation as a sort of last-ditch or singular effort to boost local economies by creating jobs and infrastructure in a way that leaves little room for innovation or opportunities outside of the tourism sector. Worse, tourism is seen as having a terrible effect on local communities’ cultures and traditions, as well as being destructive to the environment. Since the 1990s, however, tourism’s profile has begun to improve as concerned individuals and organizations on both the supply and demand sides have started to address all of the issues associated with tourism, including social, economic and environmental. There is now a serious and dynamic dialogue around sustainable and responsible tourism in every corner of the globe. Critically, agriculture and food are being recognized as having serious potential in reaching many of the goals associated with sustainable development and tourism, particularly in rural regions.

Through my thesis research, I have found that in many industrialized nations, local communities and regions, especially in rural areas, are suffering from a loss of economic viability in agriculture, which is generally the sector rural people rely most heavily on for their livelihoods. This situation is a result of many factors, but rural producers’ responses to these changing times is what interests me most. Importantly, many have decided to diversify their agricultural holdings to include services, activities and products like bed & breakfasts, farm tours, farm stays and value-added products. Furthermore, many agencies at local, regional, and national levels, especially in Europe, are encouraging rural producers to take advantage of legal measures, such as geographical indications to protect and market unique products to the local community as well as to visitors. In developed countries and developing countries alike, tourism development is one way to address rural development. At the same time, an important facet to consider is sustainability, in all its interpretations and forms. As mentioned earlier, due to its less than favorable image, the tourism sector has made a concerted effort to make sustainability more than just a marketing gimmick. As such, the integration of tourism with food & agriculture can serve to protect and enhance local and regional culture, heritage, traditions, landscapes, even languages and also support sustainable agriculture, such as organic methods on small family farms.

Food in an Italian Market 🙂

To be sure, locally sourced, produced and marketed food is generally seen as far more sustainable than food products procured from the globalized food chain. Instead of producing agricultural products for export, local producers can focus more on importing visitors to enjoy their locality’s culinary specialties, like wine and cheese. The benefits of this kind of tourism are many: preservation of local culture, environment and economic vitality. It is important to note that successful food and agriculture tourism and, consequently, rural development depends on a conscious and well-defined planning process that is integrated and inclusive. Key stakeholders, vertically and horizontally, must be included in participatory planning for integrated rural tourism. Another essential component of sustainable and responsible tourism is taking stock of existing assets which can be built upon in a complementary fashion. In this way, food sovereignty can emerge as an important concept and movement that is rooted in the community, while also being supported through institutional policies, mechanisms and structures.

In future, I hope to work in the sustainable tourism sector with the intention of contributing my unique perspective from the angle of food and food policy. In the post-graduate aftermath, I am open to a variety of opportunities that can serve as stepping stones to a fulfilling career in both the food and travel sectors. I see the chance to participate in this food sovereignty tour as one of those stones and I appreciate any level of contribution. Thanks!


Well, I promised some reviews about Pre-Made Paleo, so here is my first one!  Just to give a little background, Pre-Made Paleo is based out of Atlanta, and the head chef is Chef Richard Bradford.  Their meals are Whole30 Approved and they are designed to be prepared in 10 minutes!  The meals are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, and made without refined sugar.  The meats are grass-fed, grass finished, antibiotic and hormone free,  free range and pastured.  The veggies are hand-picked, locally sourced, and organic when available.  Overall, it’s quality stuff!

I contacted Chef Richard to see if I could try some of the meals and review them.  He responded quickly and was excited to have me try them!  For this review, I’m going to talk about the delivery of the meals, ease of preparation, portion size, and, last but NOT least, taste 🙂

Delivery

I asked for the meals to be delivered to my office because I’ve had a few things “disappear” when delivered to my place in the city.  It was delivered at 10:41am and left in front of my office.  Chef  I told me that the food would be on dry ice, so it should last the day.  I put it in my car after I left work, and I didn’t return home until 9:30pm.  I was pretty afraid the meals would be thawed out.  I opened the box, and the dry ice was like magic!  The food was perfectly frozen, and I threw them in the freezer right away.

Preparation


For my first meal, I decided to have the Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, Sauteed Kale, and Sweet Potato Salad.  The “standard” is to have one protein and two veggies, unless otherwise indicated on the protein packaging.  The food can be prepared on the stovetop or in the microwave!  This was very exciting to me, especially for lunch meals in the office.  Welp, my first meal was at home, so I did it on the stove top.  Here’s a video from Pre-Made Paleo’s site to demonstrate preparation on the stovetop:

Here’s are some pics to show my preparation.  As Chef Richard indicates in the video, right out the freezer, it takes 10 minutes to cook the meats, and the veggies take 4 minutes..  If the food is thawed, it takes half the time (5 minutes for meats, 2 minutes for veggies).

My first frozen Pre-Made Paleo meal!

Turkey in simmering water

Added my veggies after 6 minutes

Then I cut open the bags and drained the excess water from the packaging and served my lunch to myself 🙂

As for ease of preparation, Pre-Made Paleo gets two thumbs up!  It was super easy, unless you think boiling water is hard.

Portion Size

Well, here was my lunch. Does it look like enough to you?  Well, it does to me.  I was satisfied with the portions before, and after my meal.

Voila! My first Pre-Made Paleo Meal 🙂

Taste

So, no for the good stuff 🙂  Before I talk about taste, I can tell you that the turkey smelled AMAZING.  I couldn’t wait to eat it!  I took a bite of the turkey, and it was seasoned well and very tasty.  I will say it was on the dry side, and I realized I made a mistake by draining the water.  I kind of did that intuitively.  However, I added a few drops of water, heated it in the microwave for a little bit, and it was MUCH better.  I would say that the dryness was definitely attributed to user error 🙂  I really love sweet potatoes, and I was pretty excited to try them.  I would have to say that they were definitely a winner as well.  The kale was yummy as far as nutrient-dense greens go 🙂  It was very moist, not too salty, not too flavorless.

Summary

I would have to say that my first experience with Pre-Made Paleo was VERY positive.  It was delivered as expected, easy to prepare, and it was quite tasty!  I can’t wait to report on their other items (hint hint: they were equally, if not more delicious).  Remember, these are frozen, shipped, and prepared meals.  I can’t say I had any expectations set, but I can say that I was very happy with meal #1.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Chef Richard did comp these meals for me.  However, my opinions are strictly my own.  I was in no way influenced to review one way or another.

If you’re interested in getting some Pre-Made Paleo meals, follow this link.  If you are outside Atlanta and in the continental US, they have 5 meal options, including a 3 meals sample option to try it out.  If you purchase their 3 month option, each meal comes to $9.50. For 10 meals, each one comes to $12.50.  This includes shipping AND the meals, which is pretty economical when you’re on the go!  In my next post, I’m going to share about eating my first Pre-Made Paleo Meal at the office.

Also, feel free to follow my blog by adding your email address below the search bar to the right, so you can be updated when I have a new post 🙂



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