Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Good Deal Food Shopping

It's been fun going around to the variety of markets here shopping for my food staples.  Although I'm new to living in Oregon, I've spent a bunch of time vacationing here so I'm very familiar with the area already.  The big difference is that this time I'm looking closely at prices.  Since there is a ton of competition as far as selling food goes, a lot of good deals are to be found.  I suppose that's what happens when you have so many people living together. 
An aside here:  I'm overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people and traffic.  I knew, of course, what it was like, but this time I'm not going home to a small town where I know almost everybody.  It reminds me of the movie Crocodile Dundee from the 80's when Dundee learns there are 8 million people all living together in NY City and says something like 'this must be the friendliest place on earth!'  
In Aspen I shopped where I worked and bought a little food every day or every other day to stick in my backpack on the way home.  I also purchased my meat from ranchers in bulk.  It's quite a change up having to drive to the store a few times a week.  Anyway, a few quick impressions before I tell you about the deal I stumbled upon.  First, prices in general are way cheaper here.  There are big discount stores and some of them have items that you would only have found in 'natural' stores a few years ago.  Things like Kerrygold cheese and greek yogurt.  Second, there is no sales tax in this state.  If an item is $9.99, that's the amount you owe when you pay at the register.  I had a 10% employee discount at the store I worked at and that BARELY covered the state and county sales tax.  Scary.  

The best price I've found on ground grass-fed beef here is in Trader Joe's which has it at $5.99/lb for the frozen brick (Angus no less).  At most other places it's at least $6.99/lb for frozen and even more for fresh.  In my mind, $5.99 is a very good price.  I paid more in Aspen even when I bough it in bulk quantities from local ranchers.  And buffalo was even more spendy.  One evening my bro and I were Xmas shopping and he asked if I wanted to go into another grocery store that was in the strip mall we were at.  My exact words were 'Sure, I always like going into grocery stores'.  Now, I've been to this place's sister store and know that it is of the higher end variety.  That is to say, if one is looking to save money, you wouldn't be shopping there.  So imagine my surprise when I was perusing the meat section and came across fresh ground grass-fed beef on a buy one get one free deal.  Their everyday price was $7.99/lb for that item, so the discount put it at 4 bucks a pound.  As you can guess, I was a little skeptical.  There was a hand written sign with ubiquitous 'buy one get one free' stickers on the packages.  Not being one to pass on a good deal I first purchased 6 units and brought them home where I then looked the company up online to see if they were putting out a legit grass-fed product.  Check on that one (from the PNW too).  Next, I had some for dinner to see if it tasted good.  Another check.  Then I put the rest in the ice box to see if it froze well.  Bam ... good to go.  The finale of the story involves me going back there multiple times, sometimes twice a day, to stock up.  I stuck the product I purchased in the freezer and when it was solid I pulled it out of the plastic tray and sealed it in a smaller bag.  I wound up purchasing 60 units in total!  The meat manager there must have thought his bogo sale was going pretty gangbusters.  Heck, on the third day he almost doubled the amount of space he devoted to the sale (he could only fit about 14 out at once in the beginning).  

I suppose I could have asked the meat manager to package me up a bunch at the sale price and would have only had to come in one more time, BUT, I was worried he was going to figure out that he was essentially giving that stuff away if he noticed one person was completely pimping out their freezer with it.  Who knows, perhaps they were sitting on a bunch and figured it was better to get rid of it at cost than to lose it.  However, it sure doesn't seem like old product to me and I'm not exactly a rookie when it comes to consuming grass-fed ground beef.

Takes after his crazy uncle
The lesson here is to be on the lookout for good deals.  Even on high quality food.  Deals and Aspen are not synonymous so this is all a bit new to me.  

It's also strange for me to not be working during the holidays (or at all right now)  I worked my butt off this time of year in that small mountain town. 

Happy Holidays to everyone and best wishes for 2014!

PS One of the many perks of living with family is stuff like finding selfies of your nephew on your phone with his tongue sticking out.  Stinker!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

School fiber

I was with my bro picking up his kids from elementary school the other day when I snapped the two pics below of the bottom portion of their lunch and breakfast menus (pickup is in the cafeteria).  Since they're a little hard to read I'll just recap and tell you that they use the words whole grain/wheat and fiber a whopping 14 TIMES in the bullet points!

Those unsuspecting kids must have a serious whole grain deficiency.  I imagine most of them get nothing but meat, eggs and veggies at home.  Poor little guys.  Not to worry though, the school, following the government guidelines, will make it all better.  Horror the thought that one might actually want to minimize this stuff in their diet.  No room for lost souls I suppose.

Makes me pity the janitors in our schools with the amount of insoluble fiber being served up these days.  Yikes.

Oh yeah, they offer 1% white milk or fat free chocolate milk.  Conventional Wisdom is alive and kicking my friends.  Alive and thriving actually.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas cookie kryptonite

I've made it to Oregon and I'm settling in here with my brother and his family.  I plan to take some time off before I start the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be.  Perhaps I'll even do a bit of traveling around this area to check out my new home.

As I've mentioned before my sister in law is a registered dietician of the conventional wisdom type and we stay away from the nutrition talk, which is totally fine.  And as much as I cringe at the majority of food choices in their household, I'm big enough to stay quiet.  What do I know anyway, I learn everything from the internet machine

Okay, I'm not going to use this forum to gripe about their eating habits.  I'm just going to poke fun now and again.  Like the following.

You know I'm not dogmatic in my approach to nutrition in general and paleo/primal in particular.  I also consider myself pretty darn healthy and don't sweat it when I have gluten or seed oils on rareish occasions.  So I figured being with the family and all it was going to be cool to partake in some holiday baking and have a treat or two.  I wasn't at all going to blink about having some gluten.  And then came out the kryptonite.  CRISCO.  Lots and lots of Crisco.  In the mix and on the pans. It was enough for me to only man up and take a 'bite' of one of the kids treats.   My 'bite' would be stretching the definition of the word really.  I know it wouldn't have been the end of the world and all, but I just thought it funny how much of a turn off that was for me personally at this point.  I believe that stuff would better serve as lubricant on the bottom bracket of my bicycle.  I considered asking nicely if we could use butter to make one of the recipes and then realized that their idea of butter is the country crock spread in their fridge, which is, as you can guess, made from seed oils.  Ah well, at least I have chocolate to cheer me up.

I'll admit to making cookies and such with shortening growing up (right mom!)  The difference now is that they make it in 'sticks' like butter in addition to the big tubs we used to get.  Oh, and that I've learned a thing or three from the interweb thingy about nutrition as well.  I wonder if they think I'm crazy paying so much for real pastured butter?  On second thought, never mind that question

Friday, November 15, 2013

Act II

Today was my last day at my job.  I'll start going through things and packing up in order to head out to Oregon here shortly.  Kind of feels like Act II of my life is ahead of me.

In 1998 when I rolled into Aspen I never would have guessed I'd still be here today enjoying the simple, but satisfying work in a grocery store.  In many ways this job has been the perfect one for me here.  One of the biggest positives was the feeling of being part of the community by helping provide a nice environment for people to shop for their food.  Sounds kind of corny, but getting to know regular customers and people of the town in this way was pretty neat.  Even the seemingly morbid though of knowing at least 20 co-workers and customers who knew me by name that have passed away since I arrived is a feeling that cements my time to this place.  Lots and lots of memories in that store.  Lots of faces.

At 15 years, I was only 10th in the store for length of tenure.  So when I say it was like a family there, you know I'm not kidding.  And not being a big corporate company, I didn't feel like a small cog in a big wheel either.  I had a lot of autonomy and trust in my position there.  Also, there's the whole benefit of the medium manual labor entailed in a grocery store, lifting and putting away odd sized objects most days of the week.  Anyway, I'm just gushing over how much I enjoyed my job while here in Aspen.  I'm quite certain that if I had to endure the restaurant biz here I wouldn't have ended up staying nearly as long.

All of this isn't to say that I'm not slowly coming around to thinking about the next chapter of my life.  If I wind up in another grocery store somewhere down the line that will be fine (this is, after all, where I'd consider myself an expert now).  But I do think a job that will challenge me more mentally is probably in order (I do have an Aerospace Engineering degree after all!).  I LOVE to analyze things, so I need to take this into consideration also.  Ah, I'm just thinking out loud at this point. 

Probably sounds like a lot of gushing over a little job, but 15 positive years at one place is pretty cool.  I am, however, not going to miss those florescent lights and that damn Kenny G song you hear in every grocery store and elevator that is seemingly infinite in length.  I actually have a theory about Kenny G - I believe he only recorded 3 minutes of unique material and the rest of his music catalog is a perpetual repeat of that cacophony.  I can't be the only one to have come to this conclusion, eh?

Friday, November 8, 2013

A funny

Lots of memories going through my brains in these waning days I have left in Aspen.  Out and about as well as at work.  Today I recalled a funny that happened the first year or two I was here, which means like 13 or 14 years ago.  An elderly gentleman (in his 70's I imagine) was in our vitamin aisle and asked for some assistance.  He wanted to know if we had any colloidal silver.  Indeed we did, so I lead him to it and pulled it off the shelf.  He then asked me to read the directions.  I obliged and read out loud the exact directions which you see in the picture (read them now). 

After I read them he looked at me and with a straight face and in a deadpan voice said, 'Well, I guess I'll have to kick my wife out of the house when I take it'

Funniest line in the history of ever.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Helping Others

I don't have anything lined up work wise for when I move to Oregon.  I'm going to take a break first and think about things while I just enjoy being with the family for the holidaze. 

Always in the back of my mind though, I think about helping others.  Is there anything I can offer or do to help others become healthier so that they may enjoy their lives more?  I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and personal experience in this area, but I don't necessarily see myself as doing anything more than just setting an example.  And this blog has been exactly that ... me sharing my experiences and thoughts and using this space as a creative outlet for my own good.  On the flip side, I do think there are lots and lots of people who very much want to feel better but are frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed with the information out there and could use some basic guidance.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to find stuff on their own that makes sense and works for them.   And there is the key.  The Wonka golden ticket - finding stuff that works for you. 

So, what does basic guidance in helping people find what works for them entail?  Information?  Of course.  Instruction?  Sure.  Igniting a desire for the person to become responsible for their own health through their decisions and actions?  Well, no doubt.  But a lot of people feel like health and nutrition information is confusing and contradictory.  And many have had instruction or taken classes that ultimately did not end in lasting results.  These things dampen the enthusiasm people have for believing they can permanently change their health for the better.  This scenario is no longer becoming an acceptable option in my opinion.  Look around.  Look at the state of health of our nation as a whole.  Maybe I'm fit and healthy, and maybe I hang out with some others that are too, but this is not the direction we're headed in as a society.  And this trend is going to become a burden for us all.  Financially of course, but far more importantly for people's overall happiness.  For their enjoyment of life and their ability to contribute to bettering this whole planet we all call home.  The deteriorating health of us as a species is nothing short of threatening our very existence.  The more unhealthy people there are, the more unhappy people there are.  Helping individuals become healthy is a grassroots effort to helping make the whole world a happier, safer, and ultimately better place for us all to live.  

WOW.  I'm not quite sure where that rant came from.  Writing down your thoughts can certainly help bring about and cement ideas that have been floating around in one's head now can't they?

Anyway, I think the feeling of wanting to help others is just a part of being human, something that's hardwired in us somehow.  It probably goes back to helping the tribe, helping in the ultimate success of survival.  There are of course many ways to help out as well.  Better health through nutrition and fitness just happens to be my cup of tea in this regard. 

No matter what I end up doing, I am excited to reach out and actually meet some like minded people in my future new home.  There aren't that many crazy people like me up here in the mountains.  Well, paleo/primal crazy that is.  Lots of actual crazy people here though

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm moving to Oregon

Yep, it's finally time to live near my family.  I should arrive there at the end of the month.  I'll likely be posting more on the switch up soon, but for right now the major reasons.

I'm moving to Oregon because I need more of this

I'm leaving Aspen because I'm done with this

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Diversity ... good or bad?

I've been chewing over a particular paragraph from Dr. Ayers last post (Vitamin C, Guinea Pigs, Limeys and Gut Worms) which speaks about food diversity.  This was posted awhile ago but I only noticed it recently as he updates very infrequently these days ... unfortunately.  It is very counter intuitive, but try to wrap your head around it:

Sea Voyages Damage Gut Organisms
The hundred of different species of bacteria in the gut change in proportions to adapt to different foods in each meal.  If the diet is fairly constant, then the diversity of the population gradually increases, just as the diversity of species in a tropical rain forest is greater than in a temperate forest.  This also explains why gut flora diversity is far less in the USA than in other parts of the world.  Americans are encouraged to eat diverse diets in the search for vitamins and superfoods.  Each dramatic change in diet makes it hard for the gut flora to adapt and the remaining bacteria are those that are generalists.  It might also be expected that early sailors who changed their diets dramatically when they went to sea, ended up with a highly compromised ship-board gut flora (and fauna.)

Right.  Did you catch that?  We Americans eat a diet too diverse for optimal gut health.  Kinda goes against the whole 'eat all of the colors of the rainbow' thing now doesn't it.  I like this guy.  Not because he has some thoughts that are against the grain (like try to minimize insoluble fiber), but because he is down in the trenches looking at nutrition (gut bacteria really) from the bottom up.  He's figuring out what kind of nutrients and environment are best for optimal gut bacteria in our colon and then determining the effects various foods and medications have on said bacteria. 

Here's the clincher clincher in that paragraph (only my classmates from sophomore year English with Mr. Rich will get that joke)  'If the diet is fairly constant, then the diversity of the population (of gut bacteria) increases'.  Diet.  Fairly constant.  Not your typical advice.  Some of my thoughts:

  • Eat a nutrient DENSE diet covering all micro and macro nutrient needs
  • You do not need a wide variety of foods to accomplish this (hence the word dense)
  • Include soluble fiber and fermented foods to 'feed' you gut bacteria
  • Eat the same foods over and over again in order for the bacteria in your gut to proliferate
  • DO make sure to change your diet once in awhile, but focus on one or two staple foods at a time
  • This is not at all to say don't enjoy different foods.  Just don't go out of your way to include everything under the sun in order to 'cover all of your bases'

I know, what the hay?  So many thoughts on nutrition out there, so many angles.  You gotta take in information, process it in regards to your own body and situation and then try to make sense of it.  And this just makes sense to me. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Snow Tires

We don't f*** around here in the mountains

Saw the neighbors put on their snow tires.  Winter must be right around the corner. 

And some Aspen leafs for ya:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shout Out II

Another shout out.  This one goes to the Aspen Skiing Company, and it's legit.  In light of the closure of the road to the Maroon Bells this past week, the Skico announced that gondola rides to the top of Aspen mountain this weekend would be free.  F.  R.  E.  E.  They said they wanted to provide people who come here with a way to view the amazing foliage.  Ulterior motives notwithstanding, I have to give them props, they in no way had to do this.  Here are some of my thoughts and facts on the matter:
  • The gondola is only open weekends anyways right now (in the Fall) weather permitting.
  •  It was cold all day today, but cloudless.
  • The normal cost for an adult in the summer is $28 and kids 4-12 are $11.  So for a family of two adults and two kids that's, um, carry the 3 and divide by 17, $78 smackers just for a ride up and down the mountain.  There are some activities to do at the top like Frisbee golf and some ropes and swings for the kids, but today those wouldn't have been available as there was snow on the ground.  There is also a cafeteria style restaurant up there.
  • As you can see in the pic below, there was literally a line to get on the gondola.  There were tons of people around the base as well in town in general.  I'm sure the top was flat out a zoo.  Lots of them were families with small kids. 
  • Last Sat. at the exact same time, with almost the exact same weather, I was in town loitering around and was essentially alone.  It was a ghost town.
  • My guess is most of these people were actually from downvalley, as opposed to the Front Range.  They wouldn't normally come up here on a weekend to hang out.  
  • Essentially getting a $78 dollar value for free is way more enticing than something like getting your second pizza for half price.
  • I'd say the Skico will increase the gondola ridership by 10 to possibly 20 TIMES what they would have without the big fat zero for the price.  It'll be interesting to see the figures on Monday.
  • The Skico isn't actually 'losing' as much money on this deal as you would first think.  They actually might not be losing any at all.  Remember, the gondola would be running this weekend anyway.  They'll miss out on say 40 or 50 paying customers, but will likely more than make up for that from photos and food at the top.  And the good memories and press they'll garner is a future investment for sure.
  • This deal doubtless helped out other business in town as well as our little Sat. farmers market.  Like I said, there were just way more people here than is normal for off-season. 
A line for the gondola eh?

The fountains in front of the Wheeler Opera house

The colors with light snow make for amazing viewing

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shout Out

I'd like to give a big shout out to the incompetence of our federal government for closing the road up to the Maroon Bells to vehicular traffic due to the shutdown.  While I'm sure there are some bad things coming about because of the government shutdown, cycling up to the Bells and enjoying Maroon Lake without traffic and throngs of tourists ain't one of them.  Normally this road is one of the safest in the county as about a dozen years ago they made it a pay road and encourage people to take the bus to the lake.  So, although there was no vehicular traffic today, it was probably a little less safe than usual as there were people walking the road.  But since the lake is 6 miles beyond the gate you couldn't drive past, most of them didn't walk very far up.   Therefore, almost nobody was up there.  Sweet!  And as a bonus, there were no forest rangers, or whatever they're called,  so I could ride my bike around to places normally I'm not allowed to go ... like along the lake, where I took the cheesy selfie below.  THANKS GOV.!!!

They shut the road down on the peak foliage week

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn - Changing of the season

Autumn has finally arrived here at altitude.  I'd say it's 4ish weeks later than usual.  Blame the rains.  All the moisture in Aug and Sept has pushed Mother Natures schedule back a bit.  But it came on all of a sudden this week ... no scrub oak turning first and all,  just BAM, golden colors and light snows in the high mountains (see the pic).  As an aside, we have a trail half marathon here every year the third weekend in Sept called the Golden Leaf.  This year it was unofficially dubbed the Green Leaf.  Enough said.
Yep, that's one big smile on my face

I've been road biking much more this year than I have the past couple of ones.  I had intentionally cut back a few years ago in an effort to curb my chronic cardio 'problem'.  I managed to do it quite well if I do say so myself.  Mostly I've gone for walks with occasional rides thrown in and I pretty much quit running altogether (not sprinting).  I told myself that if I ever felt the urge to run, then I would.  I've ended up running about once per summer.  That's not very much, especially compared to what I used to do.  But slowing down and listening to my body allowed me to make this adjustment with full confidence it was for my overall better health.  In particular, ditching the hard training and racing was a good thing.  I may have a talent for pushing myself harder than your average person, but it turns out this is probably a disadvantage in disguise.  At least when it comes to long rides and runs.

So, I'm riding more this year.  And I'm loving it.  I have always loved road riding.  I know it's probably not optimal health wise to over do it, but there are some changes coming my way and I have to soak all of this in now.  The ride up to the Maroon Bells is literally the closest ride from my front door (that's where I'm headed in the pic).  For most cyclists, this is the ride of a lifetime.  I've been nothing less than truly blessed to have called this place my home for the past 15 years.

Interestingly, the natural flow of riding a few times a week has seen me completely forgo my sprinting the past couple of months.  I know, blasphemy for Mr. Sprint right?  But you know what?  It's just what happened when I upped the cycling.  I listened to what my body was telling me.  Novel concept eh? 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I saw this cartoon today and came up with this title:

This is your brain on gluten!

On the plus side, we never would have been introduced to the Cookie Monster if he had started out eating almond flour cookies.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


In my recent paleosphere meanderings I've come across some people's thoughts that it's unlikely the paleo/primal template of living and eating is going to become mainstream.  I agree with this.  A big chunk of people that end up here are very unwell to begin with or are at the opposite end of the spectrum and are athletes looking to push performance (let's put aside the whole crossfit - paleo connection for the moment).  You also have a small subset of people, like yours truly, who are information geeks and just totally resonate with this lifestyle.  As for mainstream people though, the ones who barely know the term 'paleo diet', this type of living is just too weird.  To different.  To much of a change, coupled with too many 'rules'.  At some subconscious level people are tired of being told not to eat fat, and cholesterol, and sugar, and salt, and blah blah blah.  They're thinking 'Oh, and now you're telling me not to eat gluten and veggie seed oils eh?  Sure. Okay - whatever'. 

I get that.  It makes sense.  If you don't have the time or inclination to do some information digging and self experimentation for yourself, then it's going to be confusing.  Experts from all areas are giving out conflicting information about diet as well as exercise.

Coconut Water
But let's think about this for a second.  Can  paleo/primal ever be where 'low fat, eat less and exercise more' is in our society today?  I don't think it can.  As evidence I present exhibit A (the pic over there to the right).  This is the side view of an aseptic of coconut water.  Look at the fourth bullet point.  In case you can't read it, it says 'no fat and no cholesterol (means big hearts and small butts)'.  Almost anybody reading that won't blink an eye because it tows the conventional wisdom line.  No fat = no butt.  No cholesterol = clean pipes.  There is literally no end to this type of stuff to be found including fat free labels on jelly beans and heart healthy stickers on cereal boxes.  It's all about selling products.  I should know, I work in a grocery store.  Want some more?  Take a look at the next pic.  Nutrition rich cookies.  Who did know?  Oh bother!  Or how about that calorie free peanut butter spread stuff I already posted about?

The state of  modern grocery stores in our country is nothing short of a disaster.  This includes supposed healthy ones like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Whatever happened to the times of buying your food fresh every day?   I digress.  Where was I?  Right, paleo/primal will never become mainstream.  Why?  Follow the money silly.  We are too far down the rabbit hole that is processed/convenience food.  There is no going back.  At least not for the majority of people.  I can't put it any simpler than that.  The truth hurts.  I hope more people make the majority of their diets whole foods.  And get more fresh air, sunshine, and plenty of sleep.  And reduce their stress and move their bodies.  I do have hope, otherwise I wouldn't bother having this blog.

But I think it is us who will always be the oddballs.  The weird ones who are crazy about what we eat and how we exercise.  And I'm okay with that.  It shouldn't drive us nuts that more people don't get this lifestyle and it's benefits.  We're all on our own journeys.  All we should do is live our lives in the way that makes sense to us.  And right now all that makes sense to me is to get some nutrition rich cookies and wash em down with no fat, no cholesterol coconut water. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

I must be missing something (Fiber)

Last week on Mark's Daily Apple Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace, did a guest post about fiber.  A lot of people in the comment section didn't seem keen on the idea that vegetable fiber isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Oh, those beloved veggies.

Now, I do agree that Konstantins tone was too abrasive.  Just give me the facts please.  Anyway, today on MDA we had Mark himself weigh in with his take on fiber ... basically on vegetable fiber.

Here it is in a nutshell:
  • Soluble fiber can be fermented by bacteria in our colon with benefits to our immune system and short chain fatty acid production, along with some unwanted gas and gut discomfort.
  • Insoluble fiber cannot be broken down anywhere in our system and does not help with constipation.  
  • He's going to continue to eat his Big Ass Salad every day (which, along with some protein, appears to be very high in insoluble fiber)

WTF am I missing?  Is there a disconnect here or is it just me?  Why are green leaves so friggin sacred?  WHY?  A few here and there - fine.  But the Big Ass Salad is basically his lunch every day.

Alright, I don't want to come across as hating on Mark.  I just happen to disagree with him on the salad thing.  He is a super nice guy who genuinely is in this game to improve people's health and gives out oodles of free information to back that up.  He's da man.  However, it's all about soluble fiber kids.  And bacteria.  We should be eating some soluble fiber (but not an excessive amount) and taking care to also ingest a variety of bacteria.  Here is a link to one of the best articles I've found on the subject (by an expert in the field no less ... Dr. Art Ayers).

Leaves, stalks and grasses?  Let ruminants break those things down ... and then eat the meat of those ruminants  Okay,  I'm getting off my soap box now. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Calorie Free

I saw a funny snippet the other day on a website I go to for, well, funny stuff.  It was supposedly a tweet by Bill Murray that read  'It's 2013, why are there still calories in food?'.  Now, I have no idea if he really said this, but it's funny nonetheless. 

Apparently Bill has never of a company called Walden Farms.  They make calorie free 'food'.  I kid you not.  Their schtick is 'save 10,000 calories a month' - by swapping out to some of their products. I've know about their salad dressings for awhile as I order some of them for the store.  Nothing crazy here ... water, vinegar and some flavorings.  Not something I would want to ingest, but not something that confounds me like, oh I don't know, maybe their spreads.  I ran across their peanut spread at the store for the first time the other day which you can see in the pic. 

I'm a pretty smart guy, but when I saw this item I said to myself no calories huh, then WTF is in this stuff?  Probably like you, I was both curious and scared to read the ingredient list.  My curiosity won out, but I'm none the wiser for my effort.  Check it out below.

Sure enough, zero for the listed calories.  Well, you might notice the little * at the bottom with 'contains trace calories'  Right.  Whatever.  That's not even the problem here.  There has to be something giving this product some bulk, something to actually make it spreadable with a knife.  I'm guessing that bulk has to be the second ingredient listed, the vegetable fiber.  What kind of vegetable fiber?  Who friggin knows.  And who cares right ... no calories!  Wait, that's not what I meant. 

Vegetable fiber, hmmm.  Notice something else on the label that doesn't jive with this?  Right, that would be the big fat zero listed next to the fiber content of the food.  Vegetable fiber is the second ingredient listed and yet this is a fiber free food.  And calorie free too, in case you forgot
I don't know.  I'm not going to make a bigger deal of this than I already have.  I have no idea how this product has no calories or no fiber.  Seems to me if you put two tablespoons of this stuff into a bomb calorimeter and lit it up, you would get some kind of reading.  I'm sure it's just some label slight of hand stuff that they can technically get away with.  Regardless, you wouldn't catch me putting this stuff into my pie hole. 

The moral of the story?  Eat real food.  Goodness knows there are some hucksters out there trying to pull a fast one on poor, gullible people, but this paleo stuff isn't exactly rocket surgery.  A rocket surgeon, however, might be exactly what we need here to solve our little peanut spread puzzle.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Picture Post II

Time for another picture post.  First up is a pic I forgot about that I took while I was in a local store in Portland.  It was above the dairy cooler and as was marked as being taken in 1936.  As you can read on the side of the truck, they had pasteurized AND raw milk and cream.  That's nuts!  That's like listening to Country AND Western music.  Batshit crazy I tell ya.

Here are some of our local emergency response vehicles painted up by Portraits of Hope for this summer and fall.  It looks kind of silly at first, but check out their site portraitsofhope.org to see what they're all about.  Neat stuff.

I was on a walk about town tonight and snapped a few images.  This one is of someone's front door.  I'll bet they picked it up at Home Depot for a couple of hundred.  On second thought, that might be custom made

Wagner park downtown on a beautiful summers evening.  The three story building you see is the Wheeler Opera house.  Three stories is as tall as you're allowed in town.  No big signs or billboards either.  We do happen to have a McDonald's, but unless you were within 30ft of it, you wouldn't know it.  Kind of nice that way.

Another beautiful sunset tonight.  Stringing them together this summer.

Taco's are Paleo right?  When was the last time you saw, let alone had, one of these puppies?  Mmmmm, chaco tacos.

Click on any of the images to make them larger.  Definitely check out that door in a larger size ... that thing is, well, quite some door.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Still here

I'm still around, just not posting much obviously.  I suppose I pretty much have things on cruise control as far as the paleo lifestyle is concerned.  My base nutrition and exercise are solid.  I stray now and again, and I probably eat more chocolate than most, but my busy days at work and unbroken metabolism allow that.  I tweak things here and there and have intentions to write about them on occasion, but it hasn't panned out that way so far.  Little things like dropping the everyday avocado from my lunch menu.  Not exactly headline stuff.

Anyway, summer is gorgeous as usual in Aspen and I'm working hard at the store.  I'm taking extra special attention to soak everything in this time around as some changes may be headed my way in the near future.  I went for a little hike up Red Butte today and shot this video:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Portland trip

My Portland trip was fun.  I always enjoy staying with my brother and his family.  And this was probably only the second time I've ever been and not seen a drop of rain - it was gorgeous the whole time.  Sweetness.

Since I travel so infrequently, I don't lose my mind trying to stay Paleo while away from home.  I think I had a little bit of gluten almost every day.  Not a lot mind you, but it popped up here and there and I didn't pay it a second thought.  While I don't order obvious gluten items on menus while dining out, I also don't question servers about ingredients (not because I find it rude - if a paying customer wants to know what's in their food, then that is their right).  I'm sure I also had foods cooked in veggie oils and ate more sugar than usual, but it wasn't like the wheels of the bus were falling off while engulfed in flames and flying over a cliff or anything.  I still prepared a lot of my standard meals and didn't indulge in carbomania with my niece and nephew (sorry, small pot-shot there).

When I occasionally eat off plan like this, a few things go through my mind:
  1. I look at it like a hormetic stressor.  A small dose of poison to keep my system on its toes.
  2. I'm one of the lucky ones.  Gluten does not churn my gut like a washing machine nor does it affect my sleep.  I don't notice it at all to be honest.  Now, this is in what I'd call small doses ... if I slammed a whole pizza pie, the story might be different.
  3. There is gluten almost everywhere in the average Americans diet (if my brother's pantry is any indication) and in most restaurant menu items.   
  4. I'm glad I don't have to travel a lot.
As you know, I'm not a picture taker so I don't have any of the food I ate.  So without those, I'll keep brief a few of my dining highlights.
  1. Visited the newest Cultured Caveman food truck.  They now have three, so something is jiving up there in Portland.  I had a bowl of chili and some bacon almond dates.  No need to get into the latter as you can't go wrong with that combination, eh?  The chili meat was fab, very tender and, I don't know, is it me or does stuff just seem better when you know the animal was raised right?  As for the chili flavor itself, it was a little weak.  I want to strongly point out here though, that this is due to me having an unusual experience lately.  A guy that works in the hardware store below where I work 'lunches' with me outside sometimes.  He happens to make chili.  He also happens to have been in the chili world championships last year.  Thusly, I now know what a real deal chili tastes like (and a whole lot more from talking about the competition side of things ... very interesting).  Anyway, you're probably saying then why did I order the chili, right?  Bugger off
  2. Frozen Custard!  Yeah.  I love frozen custard.  I love frozen custard.  Did I just say that twice?  We have to drive quite out of the way to get it, but that smoothaliciousness is worth it.  My nephew had bubble gum, I had chocolate peanut butter and my sister in law had lemon.  Oddly, when I ordered peanut butter custard they offered it to me in either vanilla or chocolate.  Vanilla and peanut butter?
  3. My brother and I went to a mom and pop Indian place.  Tons of them out there.  That's because there are lots of Indians there (think Intel).  I had me some spicy goat curry.  You know how much I love goat so when I saw it on the menu, there really was no other choice.  It was tender and tasty.  And spicy.  Those Indians do like their food spicy. 
  4. We made Japanese food for 'International night'.  My bro and his family do this once a month or so.  They roll some kind of letter dice to get the first letter of a country, then roll again to get the second letter to narrow it down.  Once they pick the country they go online to find recipes that look good.  That part was up to me this time and I decided on Yakitori and Soba noodles.  The sauces for each involved mirin, soy sauce, ginger and garlic.  I served the soba cold and it was quite good.  I could take or leave noodles, but these were more dense than typical wheat ones (soba is actually gluten free) and the sauce turned out nice.  For the Yakitori I bought some pasture raised chicken breast and hearts at the farmers market and used some beef we got at the mega Asian market there (Uwajimaya).  We skewered the meats, slapped on some sauce and then put them on the grill.  Easy peasy.  The chicken was amazing, especially considering I'm not much of a chicken guy, but the hearts were what did it for me.  They were like little meat poppers.  My brother even like them ... enough said!
  5. Liquid nitrogen ice cream.  There was a small stand across from Voodoo doughnuts (where the line was halfway down the block to get in) that froze a cream and candy mixture of your choice with liquid nitrogen - right in front of you for your viewing pleasure (neat one for the kids).  The deal here is that by freezing the cream/sugar at such a low temperature, the ice crystals that form are much smaller than usual ... resulting in a creamier texture.  And sure enough it was nice and creamy.  The only downside was that it melted quite quickly.  Kinda gimmicky, but a yummy one nonetheless.
    Monkey weight calf raises
While I strayed from my usual menu options, I was right on track with the exercise.  I revived the Portland Sprint Club with my niece and nephew, and my nephew liked to 'throw in' sprints everywhere when we went for walks (I might have instigated one or two myself).  Lifting was easy, even with only the few light dumbbells that they have.  It's not about the weight, but about being creative to attain, or get close to, momentary muscle failure.  And it's so quick and safe.  I love the way I lift (pat self on back).  The pic is me getting creative with my weights to do calf raises.  Long gone are the days of going for one hour runs there, beating myself down and being too tired to enjoy the kids for a spell afterwards. 

I also went to the UNFI tabletop show one day and ordered a bunch of new products for the store.  Nothing earth shattering, probably one of my favorite things was the ice cream sandwiches by Coolhaus (warning, contains gluten).  All in all a good trip.  By the way, I sleep like a rock when I'm there.  I'm trying to decide exactly why that is and will talk about it more in a future post where I intend to discuss sleep cycles. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Aspen Delays

Well, I should be on a plane headed for Portland right at this moment, but instead I'm at home standing in the blaring sunlight writing this.  Weather delays.  One of the very few things that get on my nerves (it's too windy today).  I'd say 4 out of every ten times I come or go from here I'm delayed in some fashion, often till the following day.  It's not so much the weather that irks me, it's the whole throw a wrench in the plans and the hassle of rebooking.  I've been inconvenienced because it's been too snowy, too cloudy, too windy and because some radar thingy was out of order for a few weeks (I had to fly out of Vail on that occasion).  Drives me nuts.

Now this has nothing to do with the aeroport itself ... that I really like.  It's very small and therefore has a short security line and it's very close to town.  So close in fact that I walk or ride my bike in the summer.  Know anyone else who rides their bike to the aeroport?  Didn't think so.  I also noticed today that they got rid of the millimeter wave scanning machine.  They had it in February so they must've ditched it recently.  They just had plain old metal detectors.  I'm down with that.

I don't have much planned for the visit.  Mostly just hang out with the family.  It's suppose to be real nice weather!  One day I do have to go to a UNFI table top show where hundreds of vendors showcase the latest and greatest grocery products.  Kind of a circus really, especially since these days I'm all about fresh foods, but it is my 'profession' so I guess it's best to keep abreast of all the happenings.

The Paleo food cart that opened in Portland last June (I visited and blogged about it a year ago) now has two more locations, one just opening this week (the carts are called Cultured Caveman).  That's an encouraging sign I must say.  I wonder if Portland, or any other city for that matter, is ready for an indoor Paleo/Primal restaurant? 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I'm a Coloradan !

It's official.  When someone asks me where I'm from I can now say Colorado.  I've been calculating when this day would arrive on some of my walks this spring, knowing that I was getting close.  You see, I've now just surpassed my total time living in Colorado over that spent living in New York.  I've lived in N.Y. on three separate occasions and here in Colorado on two.  I have also lived a couple of other places, but the majority of my life has been spent in these two states.

I remember clear as day driving into Colorado Springs all of those years ago with my bike strapped to the back of my car and everything else I owned in the trunk.  I would have never guessed then that I would wind up here for so long.  And it's been mostly fab and very little drab!  If this ends up not being my forever home, well, at least I can say I'm a Coloradan 

Clearly this post has nothing to do with Paleo so if that's what you came for you can stop reading now.  Also, the story that follows is just a brief recap as to how I'm actually the fourth generation of my family to live in this great state of Colorado.

In 1941 my great grandfather, Henry Walter Henderson (know as Judge Henderson - his title) came down with Tuberculosis while living in Warsaw, Missouri.  He was advised, like many people back then, to move to Colorado where the dry climate and sunshine could possibly help with the disease, which it did.  While visiting him for a planned two weeks, my great grandmother decided she loved the place and wasn't going back to Missouri.  So they rang up their daughter Laura (my grandmother), told her to sell everything, and move on out to Colorado with them.

My grandmother was in her early twenties then and found work at some point (as a secretary likely) in Camp Hale, near Tennessee pass (then headquarters of the 10th Mountain Division).   This is where she met and married her first husband, Claude (Shelby) Ford.  As a matter of fact, my mom has some pics of them walking down the 'aisle' together under a bunch of ski poles held up by 10th mountain guys.  Unfortunately, Shelby was gunned down in Italy during the last official battle for the 10th on the 30th of April, 1945, just 7 days before the Germans surrendered. 

A few years later, in 1947, my grandmother then met my grandfather in Colorado Springs, who was stationed at what was to become Ent Air Force base (which is now, oddly, the U.S. Olympic training center).  They married later that year and began the typical military lifestyle of moving around the globe every 3 years or so. 

Enter Mama Aspen Paleo.  After graduating from high school in Alaska, she moved to Colorado Springs in the late sixties where she was a nursing student at the Penrose hospital nursing school.  She didn't actually graduate from there, instead, finishing her degree in Brooklyn. 

And then there came me.  I moved to Colorado Springs after graduating from college and soon found my way to Manitou Springs.  I then went back to N.Y. briefly and finally returned, this time to Aspen, destined to become a Coloradan.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cool Story

Here's a cool, quick, little story.

Mama Aspen Paleo received a phone call out of the blue from a childhood friend a couple of weeks ago who happened to be vacationing near where my mom currently lives.  Mom invited her and her husband over to catch up on old times.  Like really catch up.  50 years of catch up.  You see, they were best friends in 8th grade when both of their fathers were stationed in Indiana and have only exchanged Christmas cards since then.  They hadn't seen each other face to face in half a century.  I can only imagine what was going through each of their minds as their reunion approached.  Cool, no?

They had a great little visit reminiscing and catching up and such, but it turns out they had something recent in common as well ... they're both Paleo!  My mom's friends daughter got her started just like I got my mother to 'buy in' a couple of years ago.  I guess this stuff is a craze.  Mom's friend actually lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and it was interesting to hear of her frustration getting quality dairy at any kind of a reasonable price up there.  Probably living on an island doesn't help matters.  Anyway, she's into 'smuggling' the max amount of Kerrygold bars back into Canada (from the U.S.) when she visits, and I know she's not alone among Canadian Paleo types in this little habit.  When you think about it though, it must be kind of irritating as living in St. John's, they're literally the closest one can get to Ireland on the North American continent.  Ah well, c'est la vie.

 I guess it's not that close

Sunday, April 28, 2013


"Sorry folks, park's closed.  The moose out front should've told you"

Does anyone remember that classic line delivered by John Candy to the Griswold family at the entrance of Walley World in the movie National Lampoon's Vacation?

I think we need a moose out front of Aspen right now to tell people it's closed as well.  I was walking around town today and snapped all of these pics of restaurants closed for the off-season (and one or two others).  I'd say well over half of the eating establishments in town are currently closed.  I could have safely taken a nap in the middle of the street if I was so inclined.

I used to see bumper stickers around town that said 'bring back the quiet years' - careful what you wish for!

Today was the last ski day ... at Highlands
What?  Oh right, pot is legal now.