Paleo Week Test Day 2

Waking up with a hangover (even though I didn’t have a drop of alcohol the previous day), not packing enough snacks and having a tasty but not filling lunch made the second Paleo day drag on, but it ended with bacon wrapped chicken and sweet potato pancakes so all ended well.

With a dull headache and a general feeling of grogginess that I’d typical expect after a night of moderate drinking, the beginning of the day was not what I wanted.  I quickly determined that I wasn’t dehydrated, which would have been a bit of a miracle considering how much seltzer water I drank the day before.  The one culprit I could imagine, besides some bizarre food craving, was the lack of caffeine the prior day.  I’ve been through the caffeine withdraw process before and it started feeling exactly like that, and then migrated to more of a feeling like one caught a virus.  While I’m disappointed that I have that much of a physical dependency on caffeine, now is not the time to tackle it.  First order of business when I got into work was therefore going to be to get some strong tea in me.

Breakfast was something like yesterday’s, eggs but this time with spinach.  As I said, I was somewhat limited on how much kale I could use yesterday because my plants just couldn’t take too much pruning considering their pathetic state.  Frozen spinach is plentiful however, so a big handful of that was the basis of my egg breakfast; even more spinach than egg even!  I had some bacon with that just as yesterday but this time also capped it with a bowl of frozen berries.  The organic frozen berries cost twice as much as the regular, but berries are one of the pesticide laced foods that really make sense to buy organic.  I figured with a little sugar boost I shouldn’t have hunger pangs until lunchtime or beyond.  Just to be safe I packed some carrots and celery.  I unfortunately didn’t make my paleo snack bars, so that would have to do for the day.

Over the morning I drank several cups of tea but the headache was only slowly going away.  By lunch it was gone, but by then I was really ready to eat something.  I wasn’t starving, per se.  However there were literally a couple dozen vanilla cake cupcakes with chocolate icing, my favorites.  During meetings people kept snacking on the candy in the bowls on each of the conference room tables.  I usually would only vaguely consider eating any of that, especially in teh morning, and then decide not to.  This time I had no choice, and for some reason that made me want them even more.  Therefore when the lunch bell rang and everyone was going to the nearby mall food court for lunch I figured I’d join the train.

I had one potential paleo meal planned out for lunch, and only one.  I figured at Chipotle I could get a “salad” with chicken, mixed vegetables, tomatoes, hot sauce and a heaping pile of guacamole.  I was actually craving this concoction.  Unfortunately the line for Chipotle extended not only beyond their storefront, but also the one next to it and almost the one after that.  There was no way I was going to wait for this.  Instead I looked at various Asian restaurants, but everything was obviously breaded or covered in soy sauce.  I therefore ended up opting for some sushi at the new sushi place that I had been meaning to try anyway.

I was able to get some salmon and octopus sashimi.  I also got a California Roll without rice.  A roll without rice apparently means they just amp up the cucumber.  I wasn’t expecting extra stuffing of expensive ingredients, after all the rice is dirt cheap.  I was expecting maybe a little more of other vegetables or something.  That wasn’t too disappointing.  The real disappointing thing was when one of my dining buddies asked if I was supposed to be using soy sauce or not.  Whether it is heresy or not, one of my favorite parts of sushi/sashimi is making the “wasabi soup” with the soy sauce and the wasabi.  I don’t like to saturate the roll with it.  Instead I lightly dip it.  For pieces of sushi I actually peel off the non-rice part, run it through the sauce and then eat it reassembled.  There could be none of that today.  Instead I just smeared the wasabi on the pieces and ate them dry.  The experience was not anywhere near as happy.  I’m going to have to seriously give thought to these coconut aminos as substitutes for that for my three month paleo experiment.

By early afternoon I was really hungry, so I started eating my way through the carrots and celery.  As you can imagine, this did little to take care of my stomach.  At least the third and final cup of earl grey tea had finally squashed my headache.  I did a list ditch run to the kitchen to see if there was potentially something paleo I could eat.  As I expected there wasn’t a thing.  Everything had grains, or dairy, or soy and most had all of the above.  I ended up leaving a bit early so that I could get my run in and get a head start on dinner.

After my 4.5 mile run I started preparing dinner, all while chomping down on a few cups of fresh watermelon.  The protein component was bacon wrapped chicken thighs.  These are quick and easy to make.  You just get some boneless skinless chicken thighs and toss them in your favorite seasoning.  We have a dry rub called “Butt Rub” (I’m not kidding) that we use on everything, so I liberally covered them and tossed them in a bowl.  I then took a bacon strip for each of the breasts and cut it in half to give me two shorter pieces.  I lightly tucked the thighs in on themselves and then wrapped them in the bacon.  After they were all assembled I lightly dusted those with the same rub and put it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Now, it probably should have been 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  However I didn’t want to have to check them, especially since they were very dense.  While I was probably overcooking them a little bit, both the thigh and the bacon add enough juices to be able to err on that side a little.

While that was in the oven I prepped some sweet potato pancakes.  This is a recipe from the Practical Paleo cookbook, but you can also find it on the author’s website. These are very easy to make but will just take a little time to grate by hand.  I was frying them up in two pans, one Calphalon anodized steel “nonstickish” pan and one Lodge cast iron pan.  The way they cooked up in the cast iron over the steel made me decide literally on the spot to start replacing my pans with legitimate USA made cast iron.  The first replacement pan, for that thing, was ordered already.

The chicken and potato pancakes proved to be a very filling dinner.  In fact I was originally intending to eat a large salad afterward, but I was so full I decided to not even do that.  I saved the last three cakes for tomorrow’s breakfast and went on to make some paleo snack bars out of dates, nuts, coconut oil, cinnamon and honey.

If I had planned the day better I would have done much better.  I need more snacks on hand in case lunch turns out to be a problem.  I also need to get my caffeine intake levels up a bit more so I don’t have another caffeine hang over.  Despite all that it was a good day, and even better still because for the second day in a row I had no artificially sweetened beverages.