Keto-friendly Vegetables

When the keto diet first skyrocketed in popularity in the late 2010s, it quickly gained a reputation as the “bacon and butter” diet. Vegetables might appear on one’s plate as a small side of spinach or, more likely, cauliflower masquerading as everything from rice to pizza crust to wings. By and large, the focus was on limiting consumption to “keto vegetables” while focusing mainly on increasing fat intake. (I’m talking mainstream keto, mind you, not the Primal Keto Reset approach.) This, as you’d expect, led to no end of pearl-clutching from mainstream medical professionals and the popular media, who quickly branded keto as a dangerous fad diet, a heart attack in the making. It was true that many early adopters of keto went hard on butter, cream, cheese, bacon, and other high-fat foods, probably as an understandable backlash against the low-fat diet dogma that dominated the previous four decades. Some people still do, I’m sure. However, I think most keto folks now understand that they cannot (or should not, anyway) live on butter alone. At least in more forward-thinking health circles, contemporary keto looks less bacon-and-butter and more like a lower-carb version of the Primal Blueprint way of eating, complete with bountiful salads and larger servings of protein. Personally, I’m all for keto eaters embracing a wide array of produce (keto-carnivore diets notwithstanding). At some point, though, the carb question comes into play. By definition, keto requires you to limit your carbohydrate intake to keep glucose and insulin low enough to facilitate ketogenesis. All vegetables contain carbohydrates, some more than others. You can’t eat unlimited amounts of vegetables, especially the higher-carb ones, if you want to stay in ketosis all the time.  So how do you decide which ones are best?  What Vegetables Are Best for Keto? In order to achieve ketosis, most people need to limit carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 30 to 50 grams per day. Hence, the best vegetables to include on a keto diet are the ones that deliver the most nutrients with the fewest carbs. That sounds straightforward, but in practice, it can be hard to know where to draw the line.  The internet is rife with lists that sort foods into discrete “allowed on keto” and “not allowed on keto” categories. They mean well—and they do help simplify the often confusing transition from SAD eating to keto—but they lack nuance. No food will knock you out of ketosis in a single bite. There are no “bad” vegetables. There are only serving sizes and carbohydrate content and fiber. Why does fiber matter? Because fiber is not absorbed into the bloodstream and converted into glucose. It’s counted as a carbohydrate, but it does not contribute to the glucose-induced insulin spike you want to minimize on keto. Fiber, especially the soluble type, is mostly just food for your gut microbes. From a ketosis perspective, fiber is neutral.  And in vegetables, especially the leafy and above-ground non-starchy varieties, much of their carb content is actually fiber, meaning their glucose/insulin impact … Continue reading “Keto-friendly Vegetables”

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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 204

Research of the Week

Less autophagy, more heart disease.

Donating blood might be one way to lessen the risk of Parkinson’s.

Ketones may help chemotherapy patients (again).

Even if aspartame doesn’t increase anxiety in humans as it does in rodents, what do you have to lose by using stevia or monk fruit instead?

The more boosters a person had, the greater their risk of getting COVID.

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts
Primal Kitchen Podcast: The Link Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Genes with Alexandre Family Farm Founders Blake and Stephanie

Primal Health Coach Radio: Using Data to Guess Less and Help More with Risa Groux
Media, Schmedia
Strict carnivore now hitting TikTok.

Because the FDA has done so well elsewhere.
Interesting Blog Posts
Better conditions beget more evolved differences between the sexes.

How plant-based diets might worsen menstrual symptoms
Social Notes
Don’t let this be you.

“But animal fat is making you fat!”
Everything Else
I’m still blown away by the increase in ultra processed food consumption in this country—from 5% of calories to over 60%.
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
Crazy to realize: Always great when a German bank does better research than the USDA.

Concerning: We’re still getting fatter.

An easy law to abuse: CA doctors will soon face censorship of any advice that conflicts with conventional wisdom.

Interesting research: LSD appears to have huge effects on genes and proteins related to neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

How is this possible?: Big variation in outcomes among people with LDL over 190.
Question I’m Asking
What are you doing for Christmas?
Recipe Corner

Easy pork shoulder roast with peach glaze.
Classic nog.

Time Capsule
One year ago (Dec 10 – Dec 23)

7 Herbal Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT—What are they?
Dear Carrie: Hot Flashes—My wife weighs in.

Comment of the Week
“I launched a Friday Family Fun Night initiative here where every other friday 5-10 dads get together at a gym with their kids and we all just play hard in a free unstructured setting. Dodgeball, tag, nerf battles, tug of war, whatever comes up. It’s glorious.”

-Great way to get kids and parents playing from Don.

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Keto Chicken Parmesan

There’s nothing more comforting than the rich tomato flavor of a classic Italian dish. However, those regularly practicing a keto lifestyle or starting a Keto Reset Diet may wonder if homestyle Italian cuisine is out of reach. This delicious keto chicken parmesan recipe proves that you don’t have to leave your comfort food favorites behind while traveling the keto path.

Our recipe substitutes Primal Kitchen Roasted Garlic Marinara for the laborious, day-long sauce that typically accompanies traditional chicken parmigiana, making for a quick and easy weeknight meal. We prefer cooking our chicken parmesan in a cast-iron pan for flavor and the hemoglobin iron boost, but you can use any oven-safe pan. Serve alone, with pan-roasted vegetables, or atop keto-friendly noodles.
How to make keto chicken parmesan
First, use a food processor or blender to pulverize the pork rinds into a coarse flour. Mix the pork rind powder in a bowl or dish with the almond flour, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk your eggs in another bowl or dish. Dredge each cutlet one at a time in the egg mixture, allow the excess egg to drip off, then dredge the cutlet on both sides in the flour mixture. Set each cutlet aside and repeat with the rest of them.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet on your stovetop over medium-high heat. Once hot, place the cutlets in the pan and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to sear the chicken in batches. Don’t crowd the pan or else you won’t get a nice crust on the chicken. After you have seared the chicken, place all of the cutlets in the pan. Place the pan in the oven until the internal temperature of the thickest cutlet reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the roasted garlic marinara sauce on top of each cutlet and place the pan back into the oven for 3-5 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the chicken with the cheese. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place the skillet back into the oven until the cheese is melted and browned. You can also use the broil function of your oven. Remove from the oven and top with black pepper and oregano and basil.

Serve with your favorite veggie side. We like simple roasted or steamed broccoli, sauteed zucchini, kale or spinach, or spaghetti squash.

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How to Handle Youth Sports as a Parent

My kids are all grown up now, but from talking to friends and colleagues with younger kids, it’s become clear that youth sports has become too serious. Kids compete too much and too early. They overspecialize in sports at too young an age, then get burnt out and stop loving the sport altogether. They spend too much time doing the same thing with the same movement patterns. It monopolizes any free time the kids (and rest of family) have. And, perhaps most importantly, parents are too wrapped up in it all. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Kids love to play sports and need to move their bodies. The foundation of all human movement is play—engaging in a broad spectrum of spontaneous moments, reacting to novel situations as they arise, associating movement with intrinsic reward and joy and pleasure. The problem is that the classic childhood culture of free play, which is how children have historically (and pre-historically) developed their ability to move through physical space and engage with the physical world, is disappearing from neighborhoods. Oftentimes the only chance a kid gets to move is by joining a competitive youth sports team. So how can you make it work without getting out of hand? How can kids engage in youth sports without burning out, getting injured all the time, and hating what used to be enjoyable? Keep it fun. They’re “playing” sports, remember? Playing. Playing is fun. It’s joyful. If you’re enrolling your kid in a legit youth sport recreation league, make sure the emphasis is on fun. That may mean calling the coach and talking about their philosophy and their goals for the kids. Don’t criticize them on the ride home. Don’t badger them about missing a play or shot. If they start dreading going to practice, if they start making up excuses as to why they can’t go today, then listen. Pull back. Take it easy on them. Let them play sports. If you ruin sports, you might just ruin the idea of play altogether. Delay competition as long as you can. A tale as old as time is the kid who starts a sport—maybe it’s wrestling—at age 5, has a knack for it, loves it, and starts competing before long. He wins a few tournaments, does well, wins more than he loses, but then by age 10 or 11, he’s lost interest. The sport he loved to play became a chore, a job, a source of stress and pressure. 10, 11, 12 year olds aren’t meant to deal with that kind of stress associated with a sport they’re supposed to love. Meanwhile, the kids who get into a specific sport at age 12 after having spent their younger years playing and trying a bunch of new sports all the time excel, go on to compete at a higher level. There are exceptions, of course, but I’ve seen this happen over and over again. Let them decide to compete. The desire to compete has to emerge from within. The … Continue reading “How to Handle Youth Sports as a Parent”

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10 Natural Health Benefits and Healing Uses of Lavender

Humans have been using lavender as a culinary, cosmetic, aromatherapeutic, and hygienic herb for at least several thousands years. In the Bible, Mary uses lavender (“very costly”) to anoint the feet of Jesus. In ancient Egypt, embalmers used lavender in the mummification process. Roman bathhouses often scented the water with lavender petals and women throughout the Mediterranean—where it grows natively—used it in hair oils, perfumes, and makeup. It became so ubiquitous as a fragrance in cleansing agents and bathing that the name “lavender” itself comes from the root Latin word for washing—lavare.  It turns out that the ancients were right about lavender. It is a valuable herb that you can use to enhance your health, sleep, cooking, baths, and overall quality of life by incorporating it into your daily routines and regimens. Breathe in the aroma Crush fresh lavender between your finger and take a big whiff, or rub lavender oil on your temples for a soothing dose of aromatherapy stress relief. If you’re not sensitive to it, you can apply a little bit of oil or fresh lavender to your upper lip, so you get a steady drip of soothing lavender scent throughout the day. Lavender aroma relieves anxiety and mental tension. Drink lavender tea Though it’s usually enjoyed for its aroma, lavender is also perfectly safe to consume and, as a tea, actually rather reminiscent of chamomile in its effects. Like chamomile, lavender tea improves sleep, reduces anxiety, and it can even lower depression scores. To make lavender tea, steep a handful of fresh lavender flowers (or two grams of dried flowers) in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy. This is just as effective as chamomile for promoting sleep and helping to soothe frazzled nerves. You can even combine the two for synergistic effects. Make perfume Lavender oil makes a nice, chemical-free alternative to perfumes and colognes, especially combined with a more woody scent like sandalwood. Dab a little at the back of your neck or wrists to smell clean and light. To make it last longer, dilute the oil in the fat of your choice. MCT oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or even beef tallow are excellent mediums. You can also steep the fresh or dried lavender flowers in the fat using a double boiler to warm it up and speed up the extraction; strain before it cools. Take a Roman lavender bath The Romans would add fresh lavender to their public baths. They ruled much of the known world for over a thousand years, so they knew a thing or two. Adding either oil or fresh lavender buds to a hot bath will make an already-relaxing bath even more relaxing via two routes—topical absorption and aromatic absorption. Use lavender at bedtime to sleep more deeply Tie up fresh flowers and tuck them inside your pillow case, or just keep it beside your bed when you sleep. You can also do some inhalation before bed. Lavender also works well placed in a satchel, small pillow case, … Continue reading “10 Natural Health Benefits and Healing Uses of Lavender”

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7 Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain

The knee is almost always the first joint to go when people “start getting old.” How many people do you know have given up any kind of serious physical activity because of their “bad knees”? How many people avoid the gym because their knees are supposedly too stiff? How many people take the elevator to go up a floor, avoid hikes because they can’t handle the hills, or give up on their favorite sports—all because their knees hurt? It’s too many. It’s a damn shame, and it doesn’t have to be like that. The knee is actually a very powerful joint. Surrounded on two sides and supported by powerful muscles, tendons, and ligaments, buttressed by cartilage and fascia, and capable of great feats of recovery and regeneration, the knee is stronger and more resilient than most people realize. However, the knee has to be cultivated and strengthened. It has to engage in various movements to help it get stronger and make it stop hurting. If you want to reduce knee pain—or stave it off before it happens—these are the knee strengthening exercises for you. 1. Couch Stretch The couch stretch, a movement and term coined by Kelly Starrett of Ready State fame, is a stretch that undoes hours of sitting. When we sit, our hip flexors rest in a flexed position. They’re flexed but not flexed. It’s a passive flexion that leaves them tight and weak. Then, when we go to do some squats or any other dynamic knee-centric sport or movement, we have to deal with all that tension upstream of the knee. Try squatting. Just a basic air squat. See how it feels to rest in the bottom position. Maybe it’s okay, maybe it’s hard. Either way, take a mental note of how you feel squatting. Next, try the couch stretch for a minute or two on each side. Then try squatting again. You should feel much less pressure on your knees and a greater ability to rest in the bottom position comfortably. 2. Knee Circles Toperform the knee circles, place your hands on your quadriceps, just above the knee caps. Allow the weight of your upper body to push down and rest on your hands. Then, give a few slow knee bends, flexing and extending your knees to “set” your menisci. Begin doing slow knee circles, first clockwise and then counterclockwise. Do about 30 seconds in each direction slowly, gradually, and deliberately, and really feel like you’re hitting every angle of your knee. Knee circles are great for people with meniscus issues. They allow you to compress every part of the meniscus and help generate the stimulus needed to promote healing and regeneration. Because they’re low intensity, slow, and deliberate, knee circles rarely hurt. If you feel a sharp pain, try reducing the angle of flexion. These are a great warmup before leg workouts, or even done every morning as a warmup for life. 3. Tear Drop Squats The teardrop squat is named for its ability to target … Continue reading “7 Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain”

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