In Search of the Lean Six Life

Smarter, not harder. Preferrably A LOT smarter.

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Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Yes, I’m eating dairy again. No, the world didn’t end. It’s just once more congested. Of course correlation does not prove causation… But I’m still cutting back on dairy even if I’m not removing it all together.

Future post to follow on diet choices and sustainability, i.e., when drinking milk makes more sense than the alternatives, sinus congestion be damned.

In other news, I think I’m going to open a restaurant, called Free. With a purely allergen free menu.  We will serve, water, air, and lettuce.

Last but definitely not least, I made a thing! Tentatively calling it “Chili Pie with Corn Free Corn Bread.” My first experiment using plantains as a corn / cornmeal substitute.

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

Chili Pie with Corn-Free Bread

I haven’t found the perfect recipe to use as a starting point for a plantain “Corn Free Corn Bread” so I’m just making this up… probably needs a few more revisions before sharing the results. Which is to say, I enjoyed it but the less adventurous folks in my house did not think it a viable substitute for Jiffy Mix.


Dear Dairy

Sometimes, I hate being right.

Like two days ago, when I realized all this time I had been wrong. About eating Primal, seasonal allergies, and dairy products.

See, lo these many months ago when I adopted the “Primal” variation of what is known in the vernacular as the “Paleo Diet” I embraced it at least in part because of its leniency regarding dairy products. I luff my butter in my coffee in the mornings. I luff my homemade whole cows milk yogurt (and its healthy bacteria love me in return). I luff my scrambled eggs on Saturday mornings, cooked in butter and sprinkled with shredded cheddar. I luff most of all, my afternoon whey-protein-isolate-based Quest Bar, especially the Double Chocolate Chunk. And the Cookies & Cream.  And the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. How fabulous to have such a selection of grain-free, low carb snack bars!

(Not to mention, almost every recipe I’ve collected over the past year features cheese or butter or sour cream or yogurt or kefir in some form or fashion.)

And I thought that eating Primal would improve minor health annoyances such as seasonal allergies. After all, avoiding the “SAD” (Standard American Diet) would reduce inflammation in my system, so when the annual botanical orgy started up again in the spring, I would be just fine, thank you very much.

More like, it was BORED and DESPERATE for something to do, because my allergies went kah-razy. Tree pollen and mold spores oh my! I was one snot mess.  Like seriously. I was embarrassed to be at work because everyone thought I was sick. Watering eyes, unable to breathe, debilitating sneezes – just as miserable as miserable can be. Even on my trusty ol’ cetirizine-D, which I finally weaned myself off of months ago, couldn’t make a dent in my symptoms.

And then… I remembered. I had noticed in years past, that if I had seasonal allergy flare ups, any dairy product made it worse. Even “non dairy” products would slam my sinuses shut – milk proteins, for example in the form of calcium caseinate are added to juices to “fortify” them with calcium.

Two days ago, I abandoned dairy in every form. Even most brands of ghee have trace casein and whey in them.  I’m trying coconut oil in my morning coffee concoction again (some morning coconut oil and I do NOT get along), cooking more with lard, store bought coconut milk yogurt (though I’ll try making my own this weekend), and sprinkling my scrambled eggs with, well, nothing.  Sigh.  Still not sure what to do about my afternoon snack though. Nuts make me bloaty, fruit and most “raw” snack bars are too sugary, jerky is so high in sodium (and many store bought brands have corn and wheat in it, yuck) and nothing, but nothing, is as satisfying as a Quest bar anyway.

But – I was right. Yay? My allergy symptoms have subsided back to an annoyance rather than nearly debilitating like they were just a short while ago. Just like the decision to eat “Primal” / “Paleo” in the first place, I wouldn’t have stuck with it, except that I could see and feel the results.

Will our heroine survive her self imposed dairy abstinence?  Will she come to terms with the fact that when she decided long ago to “cut back on dairy”, that actually meant absolutely nothing?  Stay tuned!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Because life is too short to skip dessert, whatever your dietary preference might be! I think everyone who eats paleo or primal has their own “favorite” chocolate chip recipe – here’s mine!

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies


With a shout-out to Oatmeal With a Fork, whose recipe served as my starting point.  (Although now that I read it, almost a year later, it’s really hard to see the family relationship between her recipe and mine. Oh well! She was my inspiration!)


2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville almost exclusively for baking)
scant 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 Tbs melted butter, cooled (mine was salted because that’s what I had!)
6 Tbs coconut sugar (you could substitute raw honey, but I think the flavor overwhelms the cookie)
2 eggs – OR – 2 egg whites, 1 Tbs unflavored gelatin and 1 Tbs water (I know it sounds weird, but it improves the texture. I use Great Lakes brand – the kind in the red can.)
1 Tbs vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or less, according to personal preference – I use Enjoy Life)


Mix the dry ingredients (including the 1 Tbs gelatin, if using) in a large bowl, EXCEPT for the chocolate chips.  Tip: sift the almond flour, or use a fork to break up any clumps.

Mix the wet ingredients (including the 1 Tbs water, if using) in a medium bowl.

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet (bet you didn’t see that one coming!).  Gently fold in chocolate chips. If the batter seems warm – like the chips get melty because the butter wasn’t all the way cooled down – I will chill it for a while at this point while letting the oven heat up.

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to measure out 16 cookies. Press the batter mounds flat with your palm or other likely accoutrement – these don’t “spread” like wheat based cookies do.  Bake for 11 – 12 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.


Grain-free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Ooey Gooey Paleo Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Did I mention this was grain-free and Paleo (-ish)?

This is my adaptation of a recipe from Jan’s Sushi Bar – you can find the original version here.  I SWEAR I meant to follow it exactly.  I’ve been cooking grain free for almost a year now (!), and I have finally developed a feeling for what “works” (or not) in a baked recipe. I rejected a lot of possible grain-free pineapple upside-down cake recipes before I settled on this one. But as I started mixing, I found myself adding a little of this, and a little of that… Luckily I kept track of all my changes, as the cake turned out AMAZING.

Grain-free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ridiculously delicious pineapple upside-down cake. And it’s grain free!


2 8 oz. cans of pineapple rings, drained, juice reserved
1/4 cup butter or ghee
1/4 cup coconut sugar
3 medium eggs, separated (or two large eggs…but my hens lay medium, so that’s what I use!)
1/4 cup butter or ghee, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
2 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use this brand as it doesn’t have cornstarch… but in the future I may make my own)
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter elsewhere in the recipe, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum


1.  Preheat oven to 350F

2. Put 1/4 cup butter or ghee in a 8 x 11.5 inch baking dish, and bake in the oven till the butter is melted (sorry, I didn’t time this part!). Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut sugar over the melted butter, and arrange pineapple rings across the bottom of the baking dish.  (If you wanted to add cherries, this would be the time, but we skipped them.)

3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

4. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, melted butter or ghee, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut sugar, vanilla extract, and 3/4 cup reserved pineapple juice.

5. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Use a fork or a whisk to make sure any lumps in the almond flour are broken up.

6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the egg whites.  (My egg whites lost all their “stiff peaks” in my effort to incorporate them thoroughly, so I might try skipping that approach in the future.)

7. Spread the batter over the pineapple, sugar and butter in the baking dish.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (But not too deep, or you’ll hit pineapple!)  Your kitchen will smell AMAZING.

8. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen up the cake around the edges of the pan.  Place a cutting board over the dish, and using pot holders or oven mitts, flip the dish and lift away, leaving the cake on the cutting board.  (I had to wait a few seconds for it to come completely away.)

9. Let cake cool completely, if at all possible. Refrigerate leftovers.

I actually made this the day before, kept uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, removed from fridge to come up to room temperature, and then served it.

Did I say it was AMAZING?  I couldn’t tell the difference between this cake, and wheat-flour-boxed-cake-batter recipes I’d made previous years. More importantly, the birthday boy loved it!

Nutritional info

If you cut this cake into 8 ginormous slices, here is the nutritional breakdown:

449 calories; 29.3 g total fat; 41.6 g carbohydrates; 9.6 g protein

(But you might want to cut it into 16 smaller slices, because it is very rich!)


The Voices In My Gut

I’ve followed a “Paleo”-ish eating style (hate the word diet!) since July of last year.

Not quite a year later, I still get stark reminders of why this hack “works” for me.

My occasional relapses demonstrate that I am most likely gluten and corn intolerant, based on the extreme intestinal pain I suffer from the smallest amount of these products. Did you know most grocery store bought baking powder has cornstarch in it? I found that out the hard way! 

But there are plenty of grain-based but gluten-and-corn-free food options out there. We researched GF beer, and found a one-to-one wheat flour substitute based primarily on rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour, all of which seemed OK for me in previous tests.  

Yesterday, to celebrate our 12 year anniversary and welcome weather warm enough for eating on the deck, we binged.

The menu for the evening: 

“Appetizer” beer tasting
Grilled chicken with Sweet and Spicy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Grilled zucchini
Roasted mashed cauliflower
“Buttermilk” biscuits (I actually used kefir because that’s what I had) using the recipe from the Namaste Foods website 
Further beer tasting
Guilt Free “Nutella” Cheesecake (which didn’t look anything like the photo, because I think my homemade hazelnut butter didn’t turn out right!)

Mmmmmm. Starches, sugars, and carbohydrates, oh my!

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep nor stay asleep for long once I finally got there. Every time I rolled over I woke up completely.

This morning, my intestines are blown up like a balloon! Or roadkill!

I would have liked to fast today, but I’m still taking a prescription for an unfortunate encounter with poison ivy – the bottle label commands “TAKE WITH FOOD.” So I’ll be throwing cultured and fermented foods at my digestive tract with most meals, taking prebiotics and forcing fluids. Oh yeah, and avoiding all the starches, sugars and carbohydrates…

…right after I finish this slice of cheesecake!