primal lifestyle

Squashed Squash with a few extras

We have been experimenting with making a mashed potato replacement using summer squash this week. Turns out, squashed (or mashed) squash isn’t all that peculiar. Who knew? We haven’t cooked squash before so we are entering new territory and having a ball with it. 🙂

Don found recipes online to get him started (see examples here, here, and here.) It seems butternut squash is most frequently used for this dish but we had yellow crookneck squash and it seemed to turn out just fine.

Don made use of his vast culinary talents that come so naturally to him (brat) and took a little license to add a few new things once he had a general idea of how to cook the squash. I don’t have actual measurements, alas, Don doesn’t really measure. It’s always a pinch of this, a few shakes of that. He just adds things by instinct and flavors to taste. Hopefully sharing this with you still provides some value, maybe some ideas, or some starting points.

Forgive me for not getting any pictures of the process – I was making a breakfast casserole while he was making our smashed side dish. However, this is how it all turned out.

Pretty isn’t it? Colorful, and tasty!

Here’s what’s in it:

  • 3 smallish yellow crookneck squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • ½ head of cauliflower
  • 3 strips of bacon (mmm, bacon) – I really doubted him on that addition but once again, his instincts proved true. It was a good choice.
  • sour cream
  • green onion
  • red bell pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • oregano


Cut the squash and zucchini into small chunks (much like you do when boiling potatoes) and place in a pan with about a ½ inch of water. Cover and steam on low medium heat until soft (about 15 minutes.)

Steam your cauliflower together with the squash and zucchini, or like us, you can steam separately using one of those little stainless steel vegetable steamers. No reason why Don chose to steam it separately this time around, he just didn’t think about doing it all together.

Once everything is steamed to the softness that you like, drain the water, and combine all the veggies in one pan. Reduce heat to medium low. Add your other ingredients and blend together. A stick blender works wonders for us in this department (we like the Kitchen Aid one.)  I’m sure an old school hand mixer would work just as well. I don’t think hand mashing would be very effective.

Let sit for another five or ten minutes to get an even temperature throughout.


Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. 
~ Harriet van Horne

A New Way to Walk

It’s been a few weeks since we bought our Vibrams and I haven’t given very much of an update on them so here goes. I love these shoes! They are truly amazing. They are like wearing gloves on your feet. I was worried they would feel restrictive or tight but they don’t. You hardly feel them they are so light! It’s noticeably different from wearing traditional running or athletic shoes.

I want to stress that wearing Vibrams, or other minimalist footwear, is not just about wearing a different shoe. It’s about changing your biomechanics and walking or running in a totally different way. Minimalist footwear is designed to encourage forefoot or midfoot striking. When walking forefoot, the ball of your foot is the first to make contact with the ground and the muscles in your feet and lower legs support your body as your heel comes down after. Midfoot strike is landing flat footed. (Really, it’s not a bad thing.) Our greatest problem with shoes today is that they provide so much cushion and support that the muscles in our feet and lower legs are weakened by not having to do the work themselves.

Let me tell you, walking forefoot is awkward the first few times. I didn’t like it. I thought I probably looked weird and I felt like I wasn’t really walking for exercise because I couldn’t walk with the long stride that I’m accustomed to. But my legs and feet let me know it wasn’t a waste of time. My calves were sore for about a week after walking (more like strolling and stopping frequently) for a few hours. I think it was three or four miles we walked that day.

Your feet come down closer to your hips, almost underneath you if you walk midfoot or forefoot. After getting out a few more times and practicing, it’s coming more easily now. It still takes a lot of concentration for me to do but that’s ok. I know that eventually it will come naturally.

Running forefoot is much easier than walking. It feels very natural to run on the balls of your feet and not be striking your heel and jarring your body with each step. I have not had any trouble with that transition, but I have to remind myself to take it slow so my body can build up the muscles in my legs and feet.

If you’re thinking about trying barefoot walking or running, or minimalist footwear, keep in mind that it will take lots of work to re-program your body mechanics – don’t push too hard, too fast.  

Read more technical tips and information here. And check out a great video, it’s not long and is beautiful filming.

Also, if you’re brave, Your Day Without Shoes is coming up on June 11th. 🙂

Good walking leaves no track behind it.
~ Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

Paleo, Primal, Vibram…Say What?

Don and I are embracing some new philosophies and making some lifestyle changes. Some of you have heard a bit about them – you could skip down to the first picture if you don’t want a recap. For those that haven’t heard the story, it all started with a movie (comedy-documentary) we watched on Netflix back in February. It was called FatHead and it said some interesting things about nutrition.

Next came, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. (Thanks Kevin!) We were intrigued and concerned about some of the things we learned. (also viewable on YouTube)

We’d heard a bit about the Paleo Diet but suddenly we were paying closer attention.

Then we found the Primal Blueprint. (Thanks again Kevin!)

And we’re hooked.

We’ve purged our pantry and fridge of any foods with high fructose corn syrup, and cleared out the bread, pasta, beans, and rice. We’ve still got a long way to go to finding replacements for a lot of things but so far the journey has been good. We are eating more meat, eggs, veggies, and fresh fruit and we feel great! When we made the first initial leap and started cutting back on the sugar and carbs, Don lost about 15 lbs and 5 inches on his waist – in three weeks!

This is not just another gimmicky way to lose weight. It’s not even really about losing weight, although Don does want to lose a few pounds. It’s really about a fundamental change to our overall, everyday diet/nutrition. It’s about changing the way we think about food and learning that all the things we’ve always thought about nutrition are not all that correct. It’s not just about calories despite all the media focus on calories.

I can’t begin to try to explain the science and mechanics behind it all. If your interest is piqued at all, I encourage you to take some time to look into these different resources I’ve listed and see for yourself what you think. A great starting place is the personal success stories of living primal:

Or if nothing else, check out the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. Very different.

Great! Now that I got that out of the way I can show you some of the things we’ve been doing and they won’t seem quite so weird. 🙂

Check out our Avocado Deviled Eggs!

Oh, they are divine and so devilishly simple. We used:

4 hard-boiled eggs
½ avocado
splash of lime juice
minced green onion
dash of hot sauce (Tabasco or otherwise)
pinch of cilantro
bit of pepper
dash of salt
sprinkle of cayenne pepper

It’s a science of flavoring to taste and since Don is the cook and doesn’t use measurements much I don’t have exact measurements for you. But it gives you the idea.

Also for dinner the same night, we fried up some freshly caught redfish – YUM! (Left picture.)

We paired it with a salad of arugula and spinach leaves with tomato. There’s a bit of Marie’s All Natural Creamy Ranch dressing,, and before you say it, yes I know it has a little bit of sugar in it. I never said we are cutting sugar out completely. We are paying better attention to ingredients and we are making an effort to limit the sugar intake considerably.  

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how Don breaded the fish. It was something he put together by scratch. I promise to pay closer attention in the future. I realize it’s a bit useless to show you something and not tell you how you can do it.

Earlier in the week we made a chicken stir fry (right picture) that we served over a spring mix salad. Don sautéed the chicken with onions, cabbage, and snow peas, and the strawberries are sprinkled with cinnamon. I’m having the leftovers for lunch today and I can’t wait!

I know, you foodies out there are going to beat me up for not including details on the seasoning. It’s hard when you’re not the one cooking and I’m in the cook’s way if I hover to try to track what he’s doing. I’ll find a way and I’ll get better with my food posts. I promise.

On a different, yet sort of related note, we bought Vibram FiveFingers shoes last night.

We wore them a bit last night and they are quite comfortable. We are eager to see how they will fit into our fitness routine and how much of a difference they make in the way we walk/run. I will give you an update and a more thorough review once we’ve had them for awhile.

That’s it for today! I know it was a long post. I hope you stuck with me through the beginning so you could see the new things we are doing. We are excited about the changes and looking forward to finding new ways to prepare food, and a new approach to our health and fitness. I also look forward to sharing our successes (and maybe some failures) with you as we explore this new territory.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
~ Albert Einstein