Archives for category: Primal Living

Today we are going to wander a bit off the culinary path. I want to talk about something more related to the natural living side of Paleo. If you’re the type of person who’s interested in healthy eating, chances are, you’ve probably been introducing a more natural approach to other aspects of your life. Maybe you switched to a biodegradable laundry detergent or perhaps an aluminum-free deodorant. All good things. Whatever you can do to minimize you and your family’s exposure to harsh chemicals and destructive consumption of the Earth’s resources is a big step in the right direction.

Something that tends to be the last thing to change in a “naturally” focused lifestyle is skin and hair care products. Especially with women, we tend to be “married” to our favorite products. We claim that nothing works quite like Maybelline, Pantene, or Clearasil. For today, I will be discussing facial cleansing.

Acne, it sucks. ‘

A lot.

And just cause you’re not 17 anymore does not mean you no longer struggle with acne. It’s causes range from hormonal to genetic to dietary and it usually is a combination of all three. We all have friends who have never had a zit in their lives and others who face a constant battle with blemishes.Unfortunately our cultural context doesn’t help this problem in the least. Our society constantly supports our obsession with clear skin at every turn. “Radiant Skin!” claims the latest magazine cover, “Reduces redness and moisturizes!” says some new teeny bopper in her Neutrogena advertisement on TV. Let’s just have a reality check for a second… all those ads, pics, and commercials have been to the Photoshop Fairy and back. As a soon-to-be wife of a designer, let me say that Photoshop is amazing at altering reality. Faith Hill’s skin is not that perfect and Kate Winslet is not that skinny. And by buying all those chemical and paraben laden products, all you’re doing is putting money in the pockets of weird science and marketing executives. Not to mention, you are robbing your skin of vital nutrients and encouraging more harm than good.

That being said, here’s my new favorite face washing technique. Be warned, you will need to overcome the conventional wisdom that you need to wash your face twice a day with store-bought face products (hey, you had to overcome it to realize that you don’t actually need whole grains in your diet and that saturated fat is okay. So what’s one more commonly held belief falling off your radar?)

It’s called the OIL CLEANSING METHOD. See, you’re scared… skeptical even. Basically unwilling to try. Well, you might want to reconsider.

Here’s my testimony in a nutshell:

I am a girl (duh). In my teens, I struggled with acne here or there. Never had a huge problem that dictated Accutane or some other dramatic intervention, but my skin wasn’t perfect either. As I got older and began to clean up my diet, I noticed an improvement in the clarity of my skin. Not a total solution though. Oftentimes, my face would misbehave during menstruation, or right before to be accurate. According to the doc, I would see improvements by taking birth control (yay for currently accepted medical solutions…NOT). So I took it, for years and years. There was a definite improvement, but I could never totally get rid of it.

Knowing that my acne struggle was mostly hormonal (whether it was during my monthly cycle or stress related was never totally clear, but both situations are hormone induced) was a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you just feel powerless over it. When I decided to go off the pill, I feared for my face big time. I knew that choosing to stop taking synthetic hormones was the right choice for me especially since I want to be natural, paleo, fertile…etc. I did, however, have serious concerns that the acne would return with a vengeance. Fast forward a year and a half of trying to get my hormones back to normal levels (after quitting birth control, it took me 8-9 months to have a menstrual cycle again, and even longer for it to happen every month… yeah, not cool. ) my skin did certainly take a hit. Not terrible, but once you have adult acne, even just a little, it really throws off the self-confidence.

I used all kinds of cleansers as a kid and into adulthood. I really liked the Desert Essence tea tree cleanser (now sold at Trader Joe’s under the TJ’s label.) and had stuck with that for the past few years, believing that it was a good compromise between natural and synthetic.

Then I recently stumbled upon an article about the Oil Cleansing Method. So I decided to try it. Throw caution to wind and slather my face with oil. No soap, no toner. Just oil and steam and a washcloth.

It’s been working out great. I encourage you to try it, experiment with oil types and ratios. Please just try it, and don’t dismiss simply because you’ve always heard that oil causes acne.

oil is good

Here’s the bare bones of the method:

Do this at night. Don’t wash your face first with soap. Just use your regular face, as is.

Get a washcloth or a basin with really hot water (at-home facial style).

Take some oil.

  • extra virgin olive oil or jojoba oil
  • castor oil
  • coconut oil

Make a mixture of some of these oils. I use olive oil and castor oil. It’s about a 2:1 ration, olive to castor, with a bit of jojoba mixed in.

Put a nickel size puddle in your hands or dip your (clean) fingers into the mixture.

Massage your face with the oil for about a minute, rubbing it all over. (If you have eye makeup on, take a cotton round with some jojoba oil and use that to remove the makeup. It doesn’t irritate at all and jojoba is super great for the skin.)

After your minute of rubbing, steam your face for about a minute, either over the steamy basin or with a steamy washcloth. Once the minute or so is up, use the washcloth to lightly rub off the excess oil from your face.

THAT’S IT. nothing else. Your skin will feel great and if you keep it up, you should notice a lot less blemishes popping up. Honestly, I still don’t look like I’ve been photoshopped into perfection. It’s not a miracle cure. But here’s what I know:

  1. My skin looks and feels better
  2. I have less blemishes and zit outbreaks (I’ve maybe had  2 or 3 pimples in the past month)
  3. I’m not buying face products and inundating my skin with gross, chemically stuff.
  4. I no longer strip my skin of its natural oils, it’s always healthy looking and retains a glow.

There’s a pretty good amount of info on the OCM online if you are interested in other people’s experiences and other types of oils and ratios to use.


You should make sure you are drinking enough water.

 You should try a complete 30 day Paleo challenge (no sugar, dairy, grains, or legumes). I know that many dermatologists are recommending cutting out dairy because so many people respond well to that change.

The individual quest for knowledge should never be discounted, especially when it comes to health. I know that many people become disgruntled and borderline hypochondriac trying to diagnose themselves using WebMD, “health” magazine questionnaires, and the ever popular self-help section of the bookstore, however, an intelligent pursuit of scientific as well as anecdotal answers to biological concerns is a noble one.

Right now, as I finish up my culinary studies, I am well-aware that my learning and growing does not stop once I drive away from Santa Cruz. In fact, I have a lengthy list of books and topics to read and research once I have a bit more time on my hands!

As of right now, the best I can do is Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. It’s a really great reminder of why I do what I do, why I cook what I cook, and why I preach it to everyone else. Reading the evidence, the scientific backing for Paleo creates a mindfulness that is shrouded when the world closes in with it’s questions, criticisms, and denials. I like to keep myself constantly in the intellectual circle of food and it’s effects on the body because without the reassurance that comes from other people’s stories and countless medical studies, I begin to lose sight of the greater importance of teaching others about their food choices. My personal experience definitely has helped me, but is that enough to change someone else’s mind. Well, the unfortunate truth is a resounding “no”. People need to be convinced. Believing is seeing, and seeing from all angles in all different lights.

Here’s my Paleo Sunday

Coffee with freshly made Cashew Coconut Cream (recipe below)

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Raw Honey and Eggs

Curry Flax Crackers with Smoked Oysters and Avocado

Sautéed Italian Chicken Sausage and Kale with Garlic

Apple, Dark Chocolate, and Salted Marcona Almonds

Cashew Coconut Cream

2 c. soaked cashews
4 c. coconut water
2 dates, soaked
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Blend cashews and coconut water, strain through nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Discard or save solids (use in paleo pancakes or crusts.)
2. Put cashew milk back in blender with other ingredients and blend until frothy!

coconut milk in coffee


Here we go again! Sorry, no pics from today… but hopefully I’ll get some good ones tomorrow.

8:30 am – green tea

10:30 am – 1/4 papaya, 1/4 c. coconut flakes, and 1 Tbsp. pecan pieces

12 pm – Crossfit! ( I was forced to take a bite of a horrendous macaroon upon arrival… pshhh.)

2 pm – snacked on some walnuts while making a basil-artichoke pesto

2:30 pm – The always delicious skillet. Cabbage, 1/2 beet, 2 mushrooms, 1/2 onion, broccoli slaw, 2 eggs.

3:30 pm – unsweetened chocolate (or as the BF calls them = dirt. I call them delicious)

6 pm – sweet potato chips and blood orange

7:30 pm – 1 can tuna, 1/2 jar TJ’s salsa verde, 1 avocado, 1 cucumber, hot sauce and chili pepper flakes

9 pm – pink lady apple and a handful of almonds

Still a few too many nuts throughout the day but overall I feel pretty good about today’s eats. Papaya in the morning is my new favorite thing. It helps start my day with some good natural enzyme power!

Papaya with Coconut Flakes (this pic was taken in Hawaii!)

Papaya –  a wonderful source of carotenes, anti-oxidants present in orange colored fruits and vegetables. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties such as papain and chymopapai, digestive enzymes which help break down proteins in the digestive process. Papayas also provide immune supporting vitamins such as Vitamin A and C.

This one’s a doozy. Mostly because I had school today, which means there were 8 meals/snacks prepared for us for final presentations.

Here we go:

7:30am – yoga and coconut water. followed by an Americano at Verve Coffee.

10 am – SCHOOL! tea, 1 oz. serving of a papaya, flax, ginger, and coconut yogurt smoothie

11 am – 1 avocado, 3 kumquats, 1 handful blueberries

12 pm – 1/2 c. egg salad with roasted squash

1 pm – (seriously, on the hour… every hour) 2 oz. of an endive, avocado, grapefruit salad and 1 oz. of a pureed greens soup.

2:30 pm – Nori, lettuce, avocado, carrots, pickles, tomatoes  all wrapped in different combinations.

3:30 pm -WORK! 1/2 raw beet, handful of almonds, handful of cashews

6 pm – more leftover ceviche with cucumber slices, orange

6:30 pm – a few pinches of coconut flakes

9 pm – apple

Just for fun, here’s all the things that I had to turn down today at school and work since they are not PALEO:

lentil coconut curry, Greens with a miso dressing, chicken and brown rice dolmas, Gluten-Free crackers, Brown rice medley, Chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate and dried fruit candies, rice and nut burgers, tempeh and brown rice sushi rolls, lemon bread, brownies with frosting, sesame honey almonds. 

This may seem like a seriously random food day, but i assure you, this is a pretty typical Santa Cruz day for me.

Willpower won today, and to be honest, so did the looming thought that I would have to post this tonight. This week is good for accountability.

This day was a bit easy since there were absolutely no demands on my time or food preparation obstacles, but it was also nice to get a break from the constant shuffle of life.

Here’s the daily breakdown:

8 am – woke up, had some green tea and prepared a raw chocolate tart crust for this weekend (Valentine’s dessert!). Did some dishes, folded some laundry.

10 am – sat on my porch and read in the sunlight ( getting my Vitamin D… very paleo). Chomped on some papaya covered in coconut flakes and remnants of some trail mix left in a jar that I needed to clean.

12 pm – CROSSFIT! Today’s torture/fun consisted of some hand stands and pullups. And the WOD was a 21-15-9 set of kettlebell swings, weighted sit ups, box jumps and a 400 M run. I was pretty tired afterwards but recovered quickly.

2 pm – Sat out on the porch (again) to eat my leftover Poisson Cru in lettuce wraps and some cabbage with some awesome Trader Joe’s salsa fresca (it’s delicious, go buy some).

3 pm – Walked about a mile down to Peet’s Coffee and chatted on the phone while basking in more sunshiney Vitamin D. At Peet’s I ordered a double Americano in a mug (saving the Earth, one to-go cup at a time) and poured in some of my coconut milk that I just happened to bring along.  Sat and read some more.

5 pm – Walked to the produce stand and picked up a bunch of large organic spinach, avocados, a lime, and some mushrooms.

6 pm – Made the filling for the chocolate tart (yum!) and I may or may not have had a few licks of the bowl. This, however, did not spoil my dinner because I went on to make a pile of food in my skillet. The pile consisted of sun-dried tomatoes, 1 shallot, a bunch of spinach, 3 mushrooms, and 3 scrambled eggs.

7:30 pm – Went downtown for a night of browsing the shops… ended up getting a couple of things at Urban Outfitters (which has recently banned plastic and paper bags… kind of cool!) and a couple of cookbooks at Logos, the local used/discount bookstore.

10 pm – a couple pinches of coconut flakes and a glass of Trader Joe’s Reserve Pinot Noir.

I’ll be heading to bed around 11:30 pm.

I need more days like these. Days with no obligations, just  preferences.

Pure Paleo is no easy feat, especially while attending culinary school. I’ve had more grains, legumes, sugar, and dairy beautifully displayed before my eyes (and stomach) three days a week for the past 5 1/2 months. My 80% Primal goals have tumbled to a more lenient 70%… maybe 60% Paleo regime. Unfortunate yes, but also very educational.

I have learned a multitude of reasons to continue to embrace a clean, original human diet vs. following the modern “health” standards. I’ve been faced with the comments and judgement of critics, the constant psychological obstacles, as well as the questions and concerns of the less or mis-informed public. All these things combine into one great learning experience.

While I do not wish to repeat the experience, I do value the knowledge and insights obtained during my brief stay in Santa Cruz and my journey through Chef school.

In an attempt to get back on the wagon, so to speak, I’d like to propose a public rebirth into my Paleo values. It seems like a necessary step, seeing as how I’d like to primarily focus on Paleo cooking as a Paleo Chef. Right now I feel like somewhat of a hypocrite due to unneccessary amounts of neolithic foods in my diet.. not to mention my days as a whole.

In the spirit of renewal and change, I propose an online daily report of my endeavor to return to the Paleo fold. This will most likely include a run-down of my daily Paleo-eats and activities. My attempt at optimum sleep, sunlight, and stress relief. As well as my fight to maintain Paleo composure in the face of all things sugared, flourescent, and unnatural.

So… starting tomorrow, you will see a daily post related to my assimilation back into Paleo heaven. It will not be easy (can you say “sugar withdrawal”?), but it will be worth it. My legitimacy as a Paleo professional hinges on my ability to practice what I preach.

So here we go!

Enjoy the ramblings, as I’m sure there will be many.

Today I was able to share some Paleo food with my class for my final presentation. And even though my final was based on a Gluten-Free condition, I incorporated Paleo recipes into my demonstration.

It seemed to be a successful presentation and I hope you love these dishes as much as I do.

Poisson Cru

2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 red onion, finely diced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced.
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/2″ cubes

  1. Set the tuna aside and combine everything else into a large bowl.
  2. Add the tuna and let marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain excess liquid and serve.
    Option: Serve with avocado half.

Recipe by Laird Hamilton, Force of Nature

Poisson Cru and Papaya

Papaya and Cabbage Salad

1 papaya, battoneted
½ head cabbage, shredded
1 tsp. lime zest

  1.  In a bowl combine ingredients and toss with cilantro-lime dressing.

Optional plating: place papaya cuts on top of some shredded cabbage, drizzle dressing and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

3 limes, juiced
1/3 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. sea salt
½ c. cilantro, chopped

  1. In a blender, combine juice, spices, and cilantro. Slowly add oil to emulsify.

If you’re curious, here’s the handout from my presentation today… enjoy!
Student Handout – Bauman College 2011