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Eat Dinners, Not Menus

Eat Dinners, Not Menus.
Angelo Coppola

I look forward to spending more time exploring the various aspects of the ‘Humans Are Not Broken’ philosophy. There are so many things to talk about: food, health, and fitness; topics of real wealth and practical tips.

Along the way, I will try to be mindful of this warning:

“Intellectualisation creates a gap or lack of rapport between you and your life. You think about things so much that you get into the state where you are eating the menu instead of the dinner, where you value money more than wealth, and are generally confusing the map with the territory.” – Alan Watts

This quote from Watts merges ideas from Dr. Trigant Burrow, a psychoanalyst, and from Alfred Korzybski, author of General Semantics (and, some say, cult leader).

I think we’re going to have a lot of fun here at Humans Are Not Broken, so I hope you’ll stick around, sign up for email updates, subscribe to the RSS feed, or do whatever you prefer doing to keep up with the blogs you follow.

For example, recently I published an article called, You Might Be Getting Too Good for Paleo, that has received some good feedback. Buried down in the text, I wrote:

Part of the problem with the Paleo(tm) approach as opposed to the Paleo(lithic) approach is that the Paleo(tm) approach is a business. It’s a business that is seeking clicks, views, booksales, pins, likes, tweets, and every manner of marketing bullshit that ought to have nothing to do with what influences your health decisions.

This is something that has been on my mind, I expect to explore this further. In the meantime, let’s talk about intellectualizing our foods, and then I’ll show you some photos of the meals that I’ve been eating for the past week or so.

The Forefood

Here’s the first line of that Watts quote again:

“Intellectualisation creates a gap or lack of rapport between you and your life.”

Remember, intellectualization is a flight mechanism (in psychology), whereby we run into the arms of reason to avoid uncomfortable emotions. We change the focus of a situation to words and ideas, instead of the situation itself. This is something I warn against frequently. If you’ve followed my work, you may have heard me say: never confuse words, ideas, and things.

If you are intellectualizing your diet, may I suggest that you leave your words and ideas about nutrition and biochemical processes far, far away from the dinner table? Make your choices about what you are going to eat before you even step foot on the stage of your kitchen.

At the table, there is nothing left for you to do but to enjoy your food. Enjoy those around you.

The Food

And here you go. This is what has been sustaining me over the last week or so. And by the way, I feel INCREDIBLE!

Let’s start with this meal (below) consisting of a delicious pan-fried salmon with mixed greens (Swiss chard in chicken stock with bacon), roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli.

It was a fantastic combination — the dill set the tone, and everything else complemented nicely. Try adding chicken stock to your cooked greens instead of plain water. It really softens the iron flavor, and provides a richer taste experience.

salmon-dill-greens

Herbed salmon, vegetables, and roasted potato.

 

Next (below), was an experimental dish that tasted a lot better than what I was able to visually capture with my iPhone. Ever get a hankering for pasta? Tired of pretending with squash? Me, too. Well, here’s all the flavor of a grass-fed, meaty, Sunday sauce over roasted potatoes accompanied by a crunchy salad with EVOO, balsamic, and seasoning. Win!

I’m not opposed to trying this with a good rice noodle, but this way, instead of pretending your dish is some semolina variant, you can come awfully close to reality by pretending it’s a plate of potato gnocchi.

potato-pasta-meatballs

Potato “pasta” and a side salad

 

This (below) was my version of ‘breakfast for dinner,’ and I can bet you know whose night it was to do dishes. Crappy plastic forks can ruin a good meal, but paper plates have never interfered with my enjoyment of what lays on top of them.

Here we have two over-medium eggs resting atop a portion of roasted potatoes. When the yolks burst, both egg and potato are transformed into something far greater than the sum of their parts. They are joined on their faux dinnerware by very real matchstick zucchini sautéed with almond slices. Also on the plate: roasted and then gently mashed yams, which play the role of dessert like Lee Strasberg graduates.

I never get tired of this combination.

eggs-potatoes-zucchini

Fried eggs over potatoes, served with zucchini and yams.

 

All right, this next dinner was awesome. Below, we find pan seared lamb and, count them, three types of starch…along with an added bonus of roasted vegetables featuring sliced Brussels sprouts. If you ask me, sliced and roasted is how Brussels sprouts should always be prepared.

Note: my definition of always isn’t always always.

Now, the grass-fed lamb was just off the hook. Trader Joe’s near my home carries this lamb from New Zealand. It’s amazing. Very flavorful, but I wouldn’t describe it as gamey. I’m a huge fan, and the price is right.

There are left-over roasted potatoes and yams. And a dish of scalloped potatoes baked in chicken stock with peas and butter. The roasted vegetable medley adds some crunch, some olive oil goodness, and some nice color to the plate.

Isn’t this a beautiful dish?

lamb-sweet-potatoes

Lamb with three potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.

 

Below is a meal of pan-fried cod with scalloped yams and crispy garlic hasselback potatoes.  I’m a huge fan of cod. Sometimes, I pour a little acid over them…maybe a drizzle of balsamic or rice vinegar. But, never malt vinegar. The gluten (who knew?) in malt vinegar is enough to twist my stomach into knots for an hour.

The hasselback potatoes were garlicky good. Amy found the recipe on The Food Network and wanted to give them a shot. We liked them, but haven’t had them again since. They might have been a bit too much work for what we got in return.

cod-sweetpotatoes

Cod, yams, and garlic hasselback potatoes.

 

I’ve already described everything on the dish below, because they’ve appeared separately in previous meals we’ve already covered, so I won’t say much about this combination. Except, I do remember the lemons. We snagged them (with permission, of course) from my  neighbor’s tree, and they really livened up this already-amazing plate of color, flavor, and nourishment — and I’m a real sucker for all three.

salmon-lemon

 

This was a simple little dinner that really did the trick one night. It’s just some roasted potatoes with grass-fed ground-beef chili served with a fresh green salad. This meal is similar to the pasta sauce and meatballs over potatoes, but with a different kick.

One of the beautiful thing about white potatoes is how well they go with just about anything, and for me personally, the interesting fact that I never seem to tire of them.

By the way, this is an absolutely phenomenal bean-less chili recipe that Amy created, and I’m sure she’ll be posting it here sometime soon <wink, wink>. Amy’s recipes never miss. She’s a genius.

Potatoes Chili and a Salad

Chilli over roasted potatoes with mixed green salad.

 

All right, and I should probably go ahead and throw this last one in (below), since it was quite possibly the climax of the past week’s meals in the Coppola home. Gordon Ramsey’s scrambled eggs. Quite possibly life-changing. I already wrote about them here. My little ladies call them Dad Eggs. No matter what you wish to call them, you should try them if you haven’t already.

ramsay-eggs2

Gordon Ramsay’s scrambled eggs with mushrooms and roasted potatoes, aka “Dad Eggs.”

So are you thinking, “Man, this dude eats a lot of white potatoes!?”

Maybe. I’d say about a pound a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. They’re full of nourishing energy, and they even go a long way toward lowering the cost of feeding a family of 6 — we all know how expensive grass-fed, premium cuts of beef can be.

Are potatoes Paleo? I’ll save that discussion for another time. Or, many other times.

Typically, I skip breakfast and have my first meal at 11, which usually consists of leftovers, bone-broth based soups (like Amy’s Pho Recipe), sardines, fruit…that sort of thing. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a more colorful, balanced, healthy, nutrient-dense cornucopia of real food in my life. I’m very fortunate in that regard.

I’d love to share! Are there any recipes you would like Amy and me to write up? Feel free to let me know. Also, if you eat sweet potatoes, yams, and purple potatoes — but not any white potatoes — I’d love to hear why. Faith? Science? N=1?

  • http://diniscorreia.com Dinis Correia

    This is awesome, Angelo – and everything looks so yummy. Since I re-introduced potatoes in my diet some months ago, I’ve been having them *every* day. And if I’m not having them with a meal, I probably have a side of sweet potatoes :)

    • http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/ Angelo Coppola

      Thanks, Dinis. Good to hear from others who are having success with potatoes, too. I’m OK with rice as well, but I find the potatoes far more satisfying. Even prior to eating white potatoes regularly, sweet potatoes had been a favorite for some time, and I always felt great when eating them. A really good sweet potato with butter and salt is like a little chunk of heaven.

      • http://diniscorreia.com Dinis Correia

        “A really good sweet potato with butter and salt is like a little chunk of heaven.” – that was on my plate a couple of hours ago, with some cocoa chili, greens beans, and cucumber and carrot salad.
        Rice agrees with me as well, but I usually only go for it if eating out and it’s the only available option: I know we can make it more nutritious with bone broth and some butter, but I always get the feeling potatoes will be more nutritious. Plus, rice is easier to overeat, at least for me.

        • http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/ Angelo Coppola

          Couldn’t agree more. We must be in a similar place with the evolution of our diets.

          I was reading an article on Jimmy Moore’s site where he states (paraphrased): “figure out what works for you, and do that for the rest of your life.” I don’t think that’s how it works at all. I think we move into various phases of health over time. I may write something about this in the near-future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kem-Johnson/100001811404457 Kem Johnson

    Spuds are magic. The new potatoes are coming out of the ground now. The evening’s leftovers are a great addition to a giant omlette, fried in butter with tomatoes fresh from the garden.
    Then there are those lambs grazing diligently in the East paddock…

    • http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/ Angelo Coppola

      I would be very curious to do an informal survey of Paleo people who eat potatoes versus people who don’t. Which are healthier? Leaner? Etc. I have my suspicions, but wouldn’t be surprised either way.

      All that ‘fresh from the garden’ food you get, Kem! Envious!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kem-Johnson/100001811404457 Kem Johnson

        Thanks to the PHD, Matt Lalonde, Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser and now you, I can continue to consume my favourite “safe” starch with impunity.
        I have put on a new kilo of late, but I am blaming it on regularity of weightlifting and the uphill tracks in our local MTB park.
        Our cherry tomatoes aren’t on vines, but I fell in love with GR’s method of cooking them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabymorag Gaby Mora

    I leave potatoes for whenever I eat out. According to my N=1 experiments they sometimes make me both chubby and inflamed (particularly in my knees).

    • http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/ Angelo Coppola

      Sounds like a great strategy.

  • Garrett Fox

    Brilliant article Angelo! Couldn’t agree more. Let’s leave the cynical, analytical nutritionist side of us far away from the dinner table. Meals ought to be a time for the rational mind to rest, and to lose yourself in the pleasure of the moment. After all, what good is it to achieve health in the body without contentment in the mind?

    • http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/ Angelo Coppola

      Here, here. Nicely said, Garrett.

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  • http://twitter.com/LianeJamason Liane Jamason

    Paleo can be so confusing depending on what book you read. I’ve done lower-carb for many years due to losing weight better, and also because I’m hypoglycemic and have hypo-thyroidism. I typically shy away from potatoes but do eat the occasional sweet potato. I guess I don’t really know what the difference is either – I always heard Sweet Potatoes were lower glycemic than white potatoes but don’t really know the science behind it. Is one color or variety really healthier than another? I’d love to have more potatoes in my life – and it certainly would make my semi-Paleo hubby happier at dinner time!

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