How to dine out like a caveman

Posted: March 27th, 2012 | Filed under: Lessons Learned, Paleo | Comments Off

Did I forget to mention how I’m now that guy at restaurants?

A few weeks ago, at Rice Paper (a vietnamese pho noodle house), the chef and owner actually came out and asked what’s up with my diet. It’s not difficult to eat right, it’s these social interactions that drive me slightly more crazy. Explaining the diet was fun during the first year, but now I sound like a broken down recorder.

Since I’ve been doing Paleo for awhile, I’ve discovered easy ways to keep on track.

  1. Snack or eat at home before going out. Don’t stuff yourself. The goal isn’t to get full. Dining with friends is a social event, don’t make it additionally painful on yourself. The idea here is to make it easier to pick side dishes or salads. It’s a lot harder to do this when you’re famished.
  2. Be that guy at the restaurant. You do meats, veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds. Another way of thinking about it: you are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and as-sugar free as possible. Sometimes it’s easier to say you have allergies, but you get the evil eye if you can’t back it up (try it, trust me, they ask, if you decide to fake it, make sure you can talk the talk). Pay attention to ingredients, particularly in sauces. Don’t be afraid to ask how a particular dish is made. If you’re new to the restaurant, you have to be that guy.
  3. Making easy decisions. Here’s almost a years worth knowledge:
Quick appetizers
  1. Olives
  2. Nuts (almonds, macadamia, walnuts, brazilian). No peanuts!
  3. Nachos without: nachos, sour cream, beans and with: extra chicken, guacamole
  4. Guacamole
  5. Extra veggies (no corn)

Sometimes, it’s easier to load up on a few good appetizers instead of an entree.

  1. Salads. with meat, guacamole, and your favorite extra veggies. Season with salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Skip the cheese, croutons, and dressing.
  2. Meat & chicken. Skip the sauce.
  3. Fish, baked or seared.
  4. Burgers. Skip the bun and cheese.
  5. Sashimi. Skip the rice.
  6. Fajitas with extra veggies and guac. Skip the tortillas, beans, and sour cream.
  7. Naked burritos. Skip the cheese.
  8. Shrimp tacos, no shells, cheese
Chain restaurants:
  1. Chipotle: Fajitas, steak, guac, lettuce.
  2. Pho: Pho without noodles- Yes sacrilege, so ask for extra meat. Stuff it with lime, bean sprouts, no sriracha, or oyster sauce. Make sure the the broth is made on site, preferably a vegetarian broth.

Another great reference on how to dine out from Mark’s Daily Apple. This is a work in progress. If you have suggestions, please send them my way.

Grilled Chicken Marinade

Posted: March 3rd, 2012 | Filed under: Paleo Marinades, Paleo Recipes | Comments Off

Got this from Mark’s Daily Apple


  1. 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  2. 1/2 C olive oil
  3. 1/4 C balsamic vinegar (red wine vinegar works, too)
  4. 1 tsp hot chile powder
  5. Grated zest from an orange Juice from the orange
  6. Sea salt and pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Pour over 1 lb. skinless/boneless chicken breast halves.
  3. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill.


Tangy Chicken Marinade

Posted: March 3rd, 2012 | Filed under: Paleo Marinades, Paleo Recipes | Comments Off

Tangy Chicken Marinade


  1. 1/2 cup lime juice
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 jalapeno pepper, cut in 1/8″ slices (do not remove seeds!)
  5. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  6. salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Pour over 1 lb. skinless/boneless chicken breast halves.
  3. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and grill.


  1. Serves 4
  2. You can brush the chicken with remaining marinade during cooking.



Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Filed under: Paleo Recipes | 2 Comments »

I love snacking. Before Paleo, it was chips, salsa, cheeses, and dip, but I obviously had to change that. Since I wasn’t about to stop snacking, I had to find good substituions.

Here’s what I have in my pantry and refrigerator at the moment.

  1. Dates
  2. Almond butter
  3. Dried apple rings (or really any non-processed, additive free freeze dried fruit, i.e. Certain grocery stores will sell sulfur-free, sugar-free dried mangos)
  4. Cut up carrots and home made baba ganoush
  5. Nuts: Macadamia, Almonds, Cashews
  6. Sliced up fruit (pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, whatever is in season)
  7. Guacamole
  8. Carrot or banana (aka plantains or platanos) chips.

I have these foods prepared, sliced up, and ready to be eaten at a moment’s notice. Preparation makes a big difference here.

Here’s what normal people do:

  1. They buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables
  2. They put them in the fridge
  3. After a long day, they come home, open the refrigerator and see a stack of unprepared fruits. Uncut pineapples, unwashed strawberries, and unopened blueberries. Then they shut the door and think “crap, too much work just to eat, forget about it”

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables
  2. Prepare them for your future lazy self. This means cleaning, slicing, and putting them in resealable bags or containers.
  3. Now, after a long day, you can open the fridge, and the hardest thing is picking your favorite fruit.

Prepare your food ahead of time, your future lazier self will thank you.

Paleo Meatloaf

Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Filed under: Paleo Recipes | Comments Off

Meatloaf is a another easy goto meal. We make this early in the week so we can divide it up for lunches or dinners.


  1. 1 diced red onion
  2. 2 lbs of grass fed ground beef 1 C almond meal
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 can tomato paste
  5. 1 TBSP crushed garlic
  6. 1/2 TBSP sea salt
  7. 2 TBSP dried basil
  8. 1 tsp marjoram
  9. cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients by hand in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place meat mixture into a large glass baking pan and form into a loaf.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until meat is no longer pink in the middle.


  1. If you’ve got leftovers by Friday, you can cut this up and use the meat in a frittata recipe.
  2. Sometimes, the meat gets dry. I add in half an avocado for additional flavor.

Banana Nut Pancakes

Posted: March 2nd, 2012 | Filed under: Paleo Recipes | Comments Off

Banana nut pancakes are one of my favorite breakfasts. They look like pancakes, taste just as good as pancakes, and keep well for a few days, which means you can prepare a batch on Monday and have enough to last till Wednesday


  1. 2 Ripe Bananas
  2. 2 Eggs
  3. 2 TBSP Almond Butter


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Cook in a skillet over medium heat
  1. Each pancake is 2 TBSP
  2. For a crunchier pancake, place mixture in skillet, then heat up pan.
  3. Serves 4. I double or triple the recipe so it lasts for a few days


Day 30: Fight like a caveman

Posted: March 1st, 2012 | Filed under: Lessons Learned, Paleo | Comments Off

It’s the 30-day mark for my gym’s Last Caveman Standing competition. 30 days ago, 17 entered. Today, only 4 remain. It’s clear that we’re all in it for the long haul; but I’m not worried.

I started Paleo last March. The early days were fun because I got a chance to really learn and think about food differently. To be clear, during those days, my version of Paleo was not super strict–like the current challenge. In fact, now that I think about it, I was doing something closer to EZTown-Paleo, which floweth with wine, honey, and sriracha.

I couldn’t have kept going this long if I didn’t learn how to fight a few battles. Some of you might know what I’m talking about.

For example, the easy battles might be learning how to tell the difference between a craving and genuine hunger. Or making a habit out of looking at nutritional labels for everything. Then there are the slightly challenging battles, like taking the time to prepare food on Sundays. Or ordering a salad and soda water when everyone else is ordering burgers, nachos, and margaritas, then brushing aside the ham because that’s what comes on a Cobb Salad but you couldn’t remember since you didn’t want to keep everyone waiting, and had to make a decision quickly. True story. My favorite type of battles, though, are the ones where other people’s world view of food come crashing into mine.

Like when I had to tell friends I couldn’t eat rice anymore.

Giving up rice? WHAT? How can you not eat rice?

Hahahaha. No seriously, here have some rice.

Are you really Asian?

And those comments came from my friends. I even got flack when I ate out Asian restaurants. Restaurant owners and staff would berate me.

No rice? You want fried rice instead?

Are you sure? It’s free, you know?

Is that how you stay so skinny? – Seriously, I <3 Asian restaurant owners.

In case I need to spell it out for you, I am Chinese. I grew up eating rice every day. I own two rice cookers. Two. I have three different bags of rice in my pantry–basmati, jasmin, and something that I can’t even pronounce. Three. Giving up rice? Impossible. For awhile, I started questioning the diet because I had to kill my most sacred cow.

Fortunately, I knew that the span of the challenge was only 30 days. Through my curiosity I found the motivation to stick to the plan and avoided rice for 30 days. It’s been almost a year and even though I still keep those three bags of rice in my pantry, I don’t touch the stuff anymore. Okay, okay- occasionally, I indulge with sushi. If the chef says eat the rice, you eat the rice. Okay?

Another battle might be learning to be that guy at the restaurant who is always asking for shit that’s not on the menu.

I’d like this salad, without feta cheese and candied walnuts. I’d like to add sliced steak and olive oil for my dressing. Thanks.

I hate that guy, and doubly hate being that guy since I have always respected other people’s time. Eventually, I learned to think about the situation differently and how to handle that conversation.

But through these battles, I learned that when you start the Paleo diet, society will tell you that you are wrong. Nutritionists don’t believe it will work, grocery stores stock incompatible foods 99% of the time, and even restaurant staff make fun of you.

Don’t listen to any of that. Manufacture your own motivations and seek out the truth on your own. You don’t have to follow Paleo as strictly as I do. I don’t even want to follow Paleo as strictly as I do. After the challenge, I’d like to try Primal (say hello to whey protein shakes and wine).

If you’ve been reading this blog, thank you for sticking around. I still want to make it easy for people to get through their own 30-day challenges, and plan to keep this space updated with recipes, funny battle stories, and tools for succeeding on Paleo, one 30-day challenge at a time.