PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Fried Fish

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This is one of the neatest images I’ve ever created for this blog.

I said I wasn’t going to do this often, yet here I am again with another recipe. I decided that I should post this one because now that we’ve had time to test it over the past six months or so, it’s yielded the most amazing and successful fried fish ever.

A little (not important) backstory to this recipe. One evening, Sherry brought home some catfish and asked if I could fry it. I said, “Sure!” and thought about it for a moment. I’d seen some recipes online for Paleo-friendly or Keto-friendly fried fish before, but for one reason or another, they never quite came out right. I decided I’d try something I hadn’t seen elsewhere: a combination of almond flour and cassava flour mixed in a 50/50 ratio. I added some salt and pepper to the mix as well, and I decided I’d try to coat the fish with and without egg. The results were pretty surprising.

I fried a few pieces without egg. Using just the natural moistness of the fish, the flour mixture stuck quite well and didn’t fall away. In fact, the finished texture is like a cornmeal encrusted fried fish. Better yet, the coating doesn’t fall away easily and is crunchy. For a few pieces, I coated the filets in egg and then the flour mixture which yielded a more traditional faux-breading texture. This coating was a little more prone to separating from the fish, but not as easily as some of the other recipes I’ve tried.

Whenever I fry fish now, I do them both ways, about half and half: some with egg, and some without. I actually prefer the flavor without the egg, but others prefer it with egg.

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PaleoMarine Original Recipe: Pecan Crusted Trout

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My Pecan Crusted Trout with Broccoli. It’s absolutely delicious!

I’m entering into territory I rarely go to: recipes. I am not planning on making this a regular occurrence, but I made some fish last night that turned out to be not only very tasty, but was super-simple to make and I think is something that can help you mix things up when transitioning into a LCHF diet.

This recipe is more Paleo than Keto, but without the sauce, can likely be keto friendly.

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My Eating Problem

IMG_5730[1]I have an eating disorder of sorts. I like to eat. A lot. I have it under control now, but I can’t say it’s completely gone. The problem is, I love food and I love to eat, and often, I find myself wanting to eat something not because I’m hungry, and often not because I’m bored, but just because I love food.

I don’t know where this came from or how it came about, but the fact remains that I had a very unhealthy relationship with food, and even though it’s much better now, the old cravings pop up every now and then for no reason at all. Like right now. I literally just had a thought pop into my head that it would be nice to eat another breakfast. Am I hungry? Not at all. My brain just works that way: “Let’s eat!”

I have been saying for the past two and a half years that part of me getting healthy and losing weight has been changing my relationship with food from entertainment to fuel. I have done so, and it’s how I see food, yet every now and then, for no reason or stimuli, a strange craving will come around. Fortunately, I’ve learned to recognize that it’s just a false craving and that it needs to be ignored. Fortunately, within a few minutes, the craving subsides and a few minutes more it’s gone completely, but the fact remains that I am still addicted to eating for eating’s sake, and it’s something I will likely need to be vigilant against for the rest of my life.

When I talk to people who ask me about LCHF, many balk at the fact that you need to eliminate sugars, grains, beans, and alcohol. They say they could never give up certain foods or drinking. I tell them it’s amazing what you can do when your health depends on it, and what would they do if their doctor told them it’s either eat well or die, and most tell me they’d eat well. I ask them, “Why wait for a doctor to tell you you’re dying? Eat well now!” I think at the heart of the problem is their relationship with food. They fail to consider that there are thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of delicious foods out there that are just as good or better than the foods they’d have to give up, yet they are so fixated on those particular foods, that emotionally, they can’t get past losing them. I know how that is; I was that person for a long time, too. But something strange happens when you finally decide your health really and truly matters more than your appetite: the old foods just don’t matter anymore.

Aside from the nonsensical cravings that come out of nowhere, I’m free from being hungry between meals, my meals leave me satisfied and are delicious, varied, and filling. My relationship with food is much better, and even though I eat amazing food that I enjoy, I don’t eat for pure entertainment. I’m no longer looking forward to my next meal while I’m eating a meal. I now look at meals as energy replenishment, and it’s been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. But I will always be vigilant against my false cravings. I will never give in.

The Secret to My Success

IMG_1894I am asked all the time what is the secret to my success in getting healthy and losing 150 lbs. I tell them that aside from the necessary motivation, dedication, perseverance, support from my wife, and hard work, the biggest secret is food prep. Without it, I would never have had the results I had in the time I achieved them.

I lost 110 lbs in the first year after starting with a Whole30. I then transitioned into the Paleo Diet, and with the help of my wife’s food prep every Sunday ever since, my lunches and most dinners are healthy, properly portioned, and absolutely delicious. Today, for example, I had one of my favorite meals: Chorizo Chipotle Meatloaf. It even has bacon on it! We make a plan every weekend, and we go to the store together to buy ingredients. Then, sometimes I help her with chopping or getting the smoker ready, and other times she pulls the weight and does it all depending on where I am (National Guard drill weekend, for example).

I bring all my lunches to work on Mondays in a big bag and I leave them in a refrigerator in my office that no-one else has access to. It’s a nice luxury to be able to do that; it definitely makes it easier for me to have good lunches when I just have to bring them once a week. I then eat one lunch a day and then my friend Steve and I have lunch together somewhere on Fridays. It’s usually a steak with some asparagus, but lately we’ve been going to a wild game grill that serves some amazing Paleo and Keto friendly meals with meats like elk, ostrich, emu, and wild boar.

I can’t stress enough how important food prep has been to my success. It’s taken away any temptation or difficulties I’d otherwise face when eating lunch during the week and has allowed me to remain 100% Paleo or Keto depending on the diet I’m on at the time. Sure, it takes time and effort, but the results speak for themselves.

The Fight of my Life

IMG_1835I went fishing on Good Friday with my wife and my good friend Steve, and we ended up hooking a crevalle jack, also known as a Jack Fish. I volunteered to bring it in. Without knowing what I was in for, I figured, “How hard can this be?” I didn’t know it would be the fight of my life.

I’ve fished all my life. I started fishing with my father and grandfather when I was a baby, and have fished ever since. I’m no master angler, but I know my way around a rod and reel. I’ve mostly fished rivers or piers, but I have gone on dozens of off-shore fishing expeditions. This time, it was my second time fishing the Intercoastal Highway, a waterway that extends along the entire length of the Gulf Coast, through Florida, and up the East Coast.

I’ve fought lots of fish, and to date, my most fierce battle was against a Bull Red Drum that I caught about 15 years ago on the Sea Wolf Park Pier. It was about 34″, and legal length at the time. It took me about 15-20 minutes to bring it in, and it was a good fight.

The fight I had with this crevalle jack lasted over an hour, and there was no resting except for one time when the skipper of the boat had to adjust the tension on the reel. I took that opportunity to take off my jacket as I was drenched with sweat.

I felt every pulse of the fish as it swam, and it would allow me to pull it closer and then take off, fighting me the entire time. Only after the hour mark did it finally get tired and allowed me to guide it into a net where we pulled it aboard the boat for photos. After we took a few shots, we let it go. It definitely earned it’s right to live. I was exhausted, and I’m sure it was, too.

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While I was fighting the fish, all I could think about was getting it in. I was careful with every move I made, never to give any line and I had to pay attention to every nuance of his direction, speed, and even depth. A few times, the fish tried to get the line caught in the motor to cut the line. Fish are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. I had to push the rod deep into the water to keep the line from tangling or cutting. No matter what that fish did, I had to do something else to make sure I was the victor.

There were times I thought about handing the rod off to someone else on the boat to finish pulling it in. I was exhausted, my arms were burning, and my fingers could barely move the handle on the reel, but I decided that I wanted to finish what I started and that I wouldn’t allow something like soreness or muscle pain keep me from pulling this great fish in.

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I thought about it later, and that fight with the mighty crevalle jack was much like my fight with sugar. It was long and difficult, but as the fight wore on, sugar held less and less of a sway over me, it’s attraction and pull weakening. I persevered and kept myself focused, and eventually I defeated the sugar dragon, regained control of my appetite and health, and now I’m no longer tempted or controlled by sugar.

The fight of my life. I’ve had a few. This past Good Friday, it was with a crevalle jack, but two and a half years ago, it was against a sugar dragon. I’m proud to say I’ve won both times through single-minded perseverance and having set my mind to not accepting defeat. We can do anything we set our mind to, whether it’s catching a 40 lbs fish or cutting sugar out of our lives. It just takes a strong desire to succeed.

 

Watching others succeed while you stand idly by

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That used to be me. I used to watch others start diets, new lifestyles, or fitness regimes and I would stay in my comfort zone and not change a thing. I would watch these people transition from their former selves into the new versions of themselves, typically healthier and in better shape. I would think back to when they started and think to myself, “If only I’d have started something then, I’d be where they are now.”

That used to bother me. As a 50-year old guy, I’ve watched lots of people through the years start one plan or another, and sure, some fail, but when people succeed, it’s motivating and also a little disappointing when you realize that the success that person is having could have been you. It’s part of what motivated me to finally get off my butt and do something about my health.

I remember stepping out of the shower and looking at myself and realizing that I was not just horribly out of shape, but incredibly and morbidly obese. I had to do something. I thought about the people I knew who all started doing something about their health and fitness, and how they left me behind. I could have been right there with them, but I chose to do nothing.

And that’s the point: you chose to do nothing. It’s an active decision to decide to not be an active participant in your own health, fitness, and wellbeing. Watching what you eat, cooking foods from whole ingredients, eating only foods that are made from whole ingredients, avoiding chemicals and artificial ingredients, eating right-sized portions, and getting some activity are all things we should be doing naturally. Instead, we choose to shovel anything into our faces that appears or that tastes good and is easy to prepare, or worse, prepared for us at a fast-food place.

Getting the ingredients for healthy meals takes time and effort. Cooking for yourself takes time and effort. But guess what: that time and effort is good for you. It’s meditative, it teaches you about the food you’re eating, and most importantly, it is healthy for you.

I can think of no fewer than a dozen people I’ve seen over the years transform themselves from unhealthy to healthy, and I recall feeling defeated because I had the same opportunity to start when they did and I chose to not do so. I am glad I chose to be an active participant in my health and to do something about it. A whole new world opened up, and I am no longer on the sidelines or on the couch.

Cooking by the Book

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Sherry made the bread, bbq sauce, and the pulled pork for these sliders that were out of this world delicious!

Diets, meal plans, and lifestyles. There are many out there, and some have more rules than others. Personally, I’ve followed Whole30 and the Paleo Diet to the letter, and after some time on them, I’ve adapted to the changes I’ve felt and seen in my own body and health to optimize the effects I got out of both. On Keto, I didn’t monitor my macros as closely as most people, yet I was able to maintain moderate ketosis easily and comfortably for over a month.

I took some criticism in the past when I did my last Whole30 because I didn’t eat much fruit as allowed under Whole30. I explained that my body is very sensitive to all sugars including natural ones, and that I had decided that for my own health to limit my sugar intake. The same goes for Paleo. I limit my sugar intake to minimize it as much as possible.

Now, Sherry and I have adopted a combination of Keto/Paleo that seems to be working well for us. Our weight is maintaining at a good place, we feel great, and our health is strong. My workouts are fueled properly and I never feel exhausted or unable to complete my runs. In a nutshell, I am properly fueled for the activities I undertake. And that is, afterall, what food is for. Fuel.

I do recommend starting with any diet, meal plan, or lifestyle by sticking to the rules. Then, after you see how it affects you, make the appropriate adjustments and then take stock of what those adjustments impacted. Wash, rinse, repeat.

We are all different. Our genetics play a large role in how our bodies respond to different foods, and because of that, we have to work within diets and lifestyles to find what works best for each of us. What works great for me may only work marginally for you. Find what works and stick to it and don’t worry about sticking with a diet plan to the letter. Sometimes, you use the cookbook as a guide that leads you to something better.