So, just what DO you eat?


2014 Meals Aboard

Everyone we talk to about our LCHF way of living inevitably asks, “So, just what DO you eat?” Most people simply cannot conceive of not eating grains or legumes or giving up sugar (including most fruits). And all that fat! Horrors! The mire of false beliefs and misinformation surrounding how to eat for good health is deep. Of course, folks usually want to understand just what eating this way would look like. Thus, many have asked us to put together an LCHF cookbook. This will not happen. We are, however, very happy to recommend several essential guide books–even a few cookbooks!

Notwithstanding our lack of interest in publishing recipes, we do have a camera. Presented on our personal website is a small assortment of meals we enjoyed aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi during five months in British Columbia. I photographed the plates, dinners for the most part, as they were delivered to the table–no time for food styling! The food is simple, quickly prepared, and very satisfying. The ingredients you will see all store fairly well on the boat. It’s not 5-star, but the fare suits us just fine.

Breakfast is nearly always three eggs with bacon. Sometimes Clark will use sliced sausage and/or cheese. We snack lightly on almonds and macadamia nuts, cheeses and a good salami (if we can find one). We make pemmican with grassed beef and suet during the winter. It gets doled out judiciously. IF we eat lunch, which we often do not, it will likely be canned Cole’s sardines in olive oil or Bar Harbor Herring with Cracked Black Pepper. Usually we eat right out of the can, but you will see other ways of using these extremely health-giving little cold-water fish.

Dinner is a serving of animal protein, cooked in natural fats (butter, lard, suet, coconut oil), along with a serving of vegetables that are low in carbohydrate. Cauliflower and cabbage store especially well in the “bilge” under the floorboards, as do red peppers and onions. You will see these simple ingredients are a recurring theme, but we pick up other fresh vegetables along the way when possible. We buy local eggs and we catch a fish on occasion. We eat to live and we live well on what we eat.

So, let’s go to the photographs! Enjoy.

May all your meals be scrumptiously nutritious!
9ah & Clark

The LCHF Boat

July 2010

LCHF stands for Low-Carb/High Fat. It’s the way we have been eating for nearly 10 years. It is, of course, the way we provision our boat, Rikki-tikki-tavi, for six-plus months of cruising. This season, we are exploring Southeast Alaska for the second time. We will supplement our food supply along the way with freshly caught fish and shellfish.

Our diet is primarily focused on the inclusion of natural fats at every meal. We try to make sure they are of the highest possible quality. Of no less importance is eating an adequate amount of protein, which we get mainly from naturally raised animals and eggs. Of least emphasis is carbohydrates from non-starchy vegetables. Finally, we throw in things like nuts, coffee and teas, 90% cocoa dark chocolate, herbs & spices.

Proteins & Fats:

  • 20 dozen unwashed, unrefrigerated eggs from pastured hens
  • 7 pounds of beef liver from San Juan Island grassfed cattle
  • 12 pounds of ground grassfed beef from Slanker’s & SJI
  • 24 (3.75 ounce) packs of homemade pemmican
  • 22 (8 ounce) blocks of Kerrygold unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds virgin coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs
  • 2 pounds of lard rendered from San Juan Island leaf lard
  • 4 pounds chicken thighs with skin & bones
  • 2 (500ml) bottles of California unfiltered olive oil
  • 12 cans coconut milk
  • 8 cans wild Alaska salmon (when we don’t catch any)
  • 10 cans tuna in water
  • 24 cans sardines in water
  • 6 cans smoked herring (no additives)
  • 10 cans dry-roasted Hawaii-grown macadamia nuts (Costco)
  • 20 pounds Kirkland “raw” almonds (pasteurized!)
  • 3 jars Kirkland dry-roasted almonds
  • 5 pounds raw pecans
  • 3 pounds raw cashews
  • 3 pounds raw Brazil nuts
  • 3 pounds raw walnuts
  • 1 pound raw pine nuts
  • 2 large blocks Dubliner white cheddar cheese (Costco)
  • 1 large wedge Dutch gouda cheese (Costco)
  • 2 pounds Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 pound triple-cream Brie cheese
  • 1 pound parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound feta cheese


  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 2 heads green cabbage, 1 head red
  • 8 yellow onions
  • 6 heads garlic
  • 3 English cucumbers
  • 8 red bell peppers
  • 6 zucchini squash
  • 4 bunches green onions
  • 3 jalapeño chile peppers
  • 5 Haas avocados

Dry Goods:

  • 21 pounds coffee beans (a 3-bean mix)
  • dried garlic slices & dried onions
  • dried shitaki mushrooms (still working on those, Diane)
  • 3 pounds coconut flour
  • 4 pounds almond meal
  • dried unsweetened coconut- fine, medium & flakes
  • dried unsweetened currants (left over from 2 years ago!)
  • 24 bars 90% Lindt Dark Chocolate (soy lecithin free)
  • 48 bars TJ’s 85% Dark Chocolate Lovers Dark Chocolate
  • coarse sea salt & black peppercorns for grinding
  • Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning
  • Good Earth Original Spice Tea

Canned Goods:

  • 6 cans tomato paste
  • 1 jar roasted almond butter
  • 1 jar organic tahini (sesame butter)
  • Trader Joe’s Dijon Mustard
  • 2 large jars of sundried tomatoes in olive oil
  • 1 large jar of capers
  • Bufalo Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Organic tamari & miso

Already On Board:

  • several kinds of vinegars
  • dried herbs & spices of every description
  • baking soda & baking powder
  • coconut milk powder
  • 6 bars TJ’s Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate (to give away!)
  • wasabi powder & oil
  • green & black olives
  • canned pumpkin
  • pumpkin seeds
  • umpteen varieties of herb teas
  • seeds for sprouting


  • 4 bottles Charles Shaw red wine (Customs limit for Canada)

This is an approximate list of what we brought with us into British Columbia. We bought a few more vegetables at Ganges on Saltspring Island. Clark caught a nice lingcod, a very large yellow-eye rockfish (we were hoping for another lingcod), and a few prawns in Jervis Inlet. We ate oysters, clams and mussels during our five days in Princess Louisa. Another very large lingcod took Clark’s hook in Fitz Hugh Sound. After this stop, we were moving quickly and did not stop to fish.

Upon reaching Ketchikan, Alaska, we bought red cabbage, Daisy sour cream, and a bottle of gin. Clark caught a kelp greenling in Cholmondeley Sound and a big China rockfish at Kasaan. Our new friend Jene bought a 14-pound King salmon from a fisherman in Meyers Chuck. We split it between us.

In Wrangell, we bought five pounds of ground elk meat (from Alberta), some chicken thighs, four dozen eggs, a block of pepper jack cheese, and a cauliflower. When we arrived in Petersburg, we were fortunate to snag three dozen fresh eggs from pastured hens at their new, local Saturday Market. The large grocery at the top of the hill, Hammer & Wikan, was having a “tent sale”. We bought three large Haas avocados, a pint of organic heavy cream and California strawberries (friends coming for dinner!), green onions, eight red bell peppers (59¢ each!), and four more dozen eggs.

Petersburg is the place to catch herring. Clark picked up a few in very short order. We fried them up for lunch and found they tasted very much like brook trout.

While in Petersburg, we were invited to go out on a fishboat, the Hoyden, to watch the pulling of prawn traps. Our friends Mary and Wayne fish salmon and halibut commercially, so the “shrimp” (as Alaskans call spot prawns) are for their personal use. It was a great experience! Clark helped de-head the shrimp in the pouring rain on the way back to the harbor. They gave us two large bags full of prawns and a good-size King salmon for our tiny freezer. Since they eat fish all the time, we invited them over for a dinner of grassfed beef patties topped with shitake mushrooms, sautéed cauliflower, red wine, with berries and cream for dessert.

After we left Petersburg, Clark added a small halibut to the larder in Sandborn Canal. Yesterday, he caught a large Kelp Greenling and two big Dusky Rockfish.

We drink coffee first thing upon getting up and around. A good portion of coconut oil is melted into our steaming brew. Sometimes we will also add some coconut milk.

A typical day’s eating begins with at least three eggs each. They are cooked with unbroken yolks over some sautéed onions with a bit of diced red bell pepper. Butter and/or coconut oil is the cooking fat. I like butter best. Clark will add some cheese cubes and perhaps some ground meat to boost the protein.

Our late-morning snack may be a 1/8-cup of a variety of raw nuts or a few chunks of pemmican. Lunch is usually canned sardines or herring, tuna or salmon salad, made up with olive oil, capers, mustard and sundried tomatoes. We serve it out of the cans it came in. We have coffee with coconut oil nearly every afternoon, usually accompanied by some nuts.

Dinner is the only meal where we eat a side of vegetables, which is generally cauliflower or cabbage (these store best on board). Sometimes we skip the veggies and just eat the fish, liver, or beef. These are usually cooked in lard, suet or a combination of butter and coconut oil. It depends upon the seasoning. We may drink hot herb tea sometime during the evening. Clark eats a small portion of very dark chocolate every evening. I eat a smaller serving every couple of days.

When we go away from the boat for an excursion in the dinghy, we take our homemade pemmican. Clark made this during the winter with grassfed beef and suet from Slanker’s in Texas. He sliced the meat thinly and dried it at 110˚- 115˚ in our dehydrator. He rendered the suet, strained it, and poured it into mini loaf pans. The dried meat was pulverized in our “new” 1947 commercial Hobart meat grinder. Clark mixed the prepared beef with melted suet in about a 50/50 ratio, and formed it into patties inside plastic snack baggies. The only addition was a little salt. A small amount of this concentrated “paleo power bar” will keep a person fueled for a very, very long time! You can’t eat very much before your body tells you it doesn’t need any more.

This evolutionarily and metabolically appropriate way of eating has improved and subsequently sustained our health for a nearly a decade. Our selection of foods, minus the freshly caught fish, is what we eat all year. We eat the same foods whether we are camping in the desert or staying at our land home in Sacramento. We eat the same LCHF way when we go out or visit friends. If we anticipate that no suitable food will be available at a social gathering, we eat before we go. Missing a meal is of no concern. Intermittent fasting is actually very beneficial and we don’t ever feel hungry anyway.

We try to avoid commercial and processed foods most of the time, but while driving long distances, we have compromised this somewhat. When stopping for gasoline at the Costco stores along I-5 between Anacortes and Sacramento, we usually buy a whole roasted chicken. We will eat part of it at the food court, where we can get plates and utensils. Then, we cut the chicken apart and take the rest with us to eat later. This practice saves time, money, and circumvents the uncertainty of finding something reasonable at a restaurant.

If you have any questions about what we eat (or why), please don’t hesitate to ask. We are very passionate about LCHF!

To your health,
Nina & Clark

Become a Sardinista!

These little fish pack a big nutritional punch and they’re very affordable.

We’ve been eating and enjoying canned sardines for many years. They are a wonderfully portable food– the little cans have pull-tabs so an opener is unnecessary. Our car always has a pouch with picnic forks in the glove compartment, so we can munch a nutritious bite anywhere. We throw a couple of cans into our shoulder bags for short walks or hikes. All we need is a little salt and pepper. Sardines are satisfying and delicious, plus they’re low-carb and loaded with Omega-3 EFAs.

When we stock provisions on our boat for the summer season of cruising in the Pacific Northwest, we buy many dozen cans of sardines. They are usually easy to find at “dollar” stores for very little money, even in Canada. The sardines canned in water are preferred if we can’t find those canned in olive oil. For a short while, WalMart carried Brunswick sardines in olive oil for the same price as those in water– $1.08. We’d buy flats when we were in town. It was the only thing we went into WalMart to buy! Sadly, the store has changed brands.

Trader Joe’s stocks sardines in olive oil but they are about twice what we want to pay because we eat so many. A TJ’s brand we like is a “lightly smoked” variety that is packed in olive oil for about a dollar less at $1.69 can. The smoke flavor is mild and pleasant. We keep a cache of these on hand for quick lunch food. They also make great appetizers for last-minute cruiser get-togethers.

When we are cruising in the waters of British Columbia, we frequently encounter schools of sardines. It’s fascinating to watch the dark shapes move through the water as the thousands of fish swim as one big ball. Seals pursue them relentlessly and when the pinnepeds charge through the school, the sardines burst from the surface en masse, creating a distinctive, rather percussive swooshing sound. The photo above is of a sardine we caught north of Bella Bella in an anchorage called Morehouse Bay. Clark used a sardine jig, which is a leader with about a dozen very small hooks, each tied with a small red plastic flag. Most people we’ve met use the silver fish for bait to catch larger fish like salmon, but we ate the sardines for dinner!

When we reached Petersburg, Alaska, in June of 2007, the herring that schooled in front of the cannery numbered in the millions. Kids would perch on the outermost dock and jig for them after school. The fish were extremely easy to catch. The youngsters packed styrofoam coolers with dozens of the silvery wigglers in short order. Scales flew everywhere, glistening on the docks and on everyone’s clothing. Every so often, a boy would heave a herring or three into the sky and bald eagles would swoop low over our heads to snag the fish as they hit the water. The whooshing roar of air through the wings of these large predators was impressive. Even more memorable were the sharp, outstretched talons as the eagle passed within feet of our heads!

The Petersburg herring were particularly large and we were dismayed that none of the residents or visitors were actually eating them! The town was founded by Norwegians, for goodness sake! The waters around Norway are home to the world’s best “sardines”, the brisling. These fatty fish are highly prized in the Nordic countries as a major food source. So why were the herring around St. Petersburg being sold merely as bait? We were stumped. The young people walked each dock, peddling the fish for $5 a dozen, packed in salt. We can imagine that they made quite a nice income. We caught plenty of herring for ourselves and loaded our freezer against the chance that we would fail to catch a salmon or two (using a lure) along the way.

The interest in sardines seems to be burgeoning at the moment. Perhaps it’s partly due to chef Alton Brown’s discussion of his low-carb eating plan wherein he recently dropped 50 pounds. He is a sardinista too. We hope it’s a trend that will remain strong. There are a number of very good incentives for eating these fish of the herring family, not the least of which is the excellent nutrition profile. Herring are numerous and low on the food chain, so eating them is an ocean-friendly, responsible choice. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a program called Seafood Watch® and you can download a printable guide to making sustainable seafood choices.

A June 2009 article in The Washington Post highlights the surge of mainstream attention to these small cold-water fish. You will find a couple of recipes there too.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium estimates that more than 80 percent of the Pacific sardine catch is used to feed bluefin tunas raised in Mexico and Australia. The problem: It takes at least seven pounds of sardines to produce one pound of tuna, a ratio that they say doesn’t make sense. “Eating tuna and salmon is the functional equivalent of eating grizzly bears and cougars on land,” said Sardinista Mike Sutton, who directs the aquarium’s Center for the Future of the Oceans. “We need to eat lower down the food chain to be sustainable.”

Eating smaller fish also offers health benefits. Because sardines eat mostly plants, they do not accumulate high levels of mercury or PCBs the way larger, carnivorous fish such as tuna or salmon do. Sardines also live shorter lives: six years vs. about 10 for tuna, meaning less time in the ocean to absorb hazardous toxins. Those factors, say the Sardinistas, plus high levels of protein and omega-3s, make sardines an excellent option for pregnant women, children and eco-conscious college students on a budget.

The California sardine fishery is making a comeback after its collapse in the 1950s. Scientists have learned that the sardine population surges when the ocean’s surface is relatively warm. They continue to spread northward as the ocean warms further. They are abundant once again. “Zillions and zillions of sardines,” is how Monterey Harbormaster Steve Scheiblauer put it in this article in the Monterey County Weekly.

So, add sardines to your grocery list. They are the perfect way to add quality selenium, vitamin B12, calcium, niacin, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. We will continue to relish our sardines several times a week. We encourage you to add sardines to your menu too. The benefits are delicious!

Become a sardinista!

Our Search for Good Eggs

We eat a lot of eggs. These little powerhouses of nutrition make up a significant portion of our diet. We begin nearly every day with two or three each, sometimes cooked in butter, fried in bacon fat, or made into a frittata with meat or cheese, sometimes with both. Eggs are high protein, virtually zero carb, and they have a perfect mix of essential amino acids needed by us humans, with thirteen essential vitamins and minerals. The yolk is the major source of all this goodness. Don’t throw it away! Notably, eggs are one of the very few foods that contain Vitamin D. They are a source of biologically available lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related macular degeneration. Eggs contain the highest quality protein you can buy, second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition.

Because we rely on eggs to provide essential amino acids and fatty acids, we feel that it’s important to obtain the best, most nutritious eggs possible. If you’ve ever had a fresh egg from a chicken allowed to eat its natural diet, you know and appreciate the enormous difference there is between it and a conventionally produced egg. The taste is richer, the yolk stands tall and is more orange-yellow in hue, and the white is thicker. Eggs are truly nature’s perfect food– versatile, portable, delicious and wholesome. And they are a real bargain, both for our budget and for our well-being!

What are chickens designed to eat?

Chickens are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. When allowed to run free, chickens feed on earthworms, small insects, herbs and green plants, even fruits. Chickens also catch and eat small animals such as mice and frogs. They will even eat each other and the eggs of other animals or birds.

Unlike herbivores, omnivores can’t digest some of the substances in grains. (Humans would be included in this category.) Some birds can eat seeds/grain exclusively and these are classified as granivores. Goldfinches would be an example. There are very few strictly granivorous animals. Chickens are not among them. Despite this, all conventionally raised hens and chickens raised for meat eat feed made of grains.

The unnatural formula fed to industrial chickens is a dried concoction that may also contain soy. (We avoid soy like the plague it is for human health.) Flaxseed or fish oil may be thrown in for Omega-3 enhancement and synthetic vitamins added. Purina proudly describes its SunFresh® feed as “highest quality sun-grown grains and plant proteins to give birds the wholesome, healthy goodness and fresh taste they deserve… FREE of all animal proteins and fats, it contains all the quality nutrients necessary…” In other words, only grain. No fresh, green plants, no bugs, no worms. No animal protein or fats. Grain alone means a sickly chicken.

Egg cartons in the supermarket, especially those sold in ‘health food’ stores, are almost universally emblazoned with “fed a vegetarian diet”, as if this were a good thing. It’s not. It’s done because it’s cheap, easy and controllable. As Paul Wheaton of says, “When I see ‘100% vegetarian diet!’ on a carton of eggs, I think ‘our chickens suffered to satisfy the passions of ignorant twits!’ I have yet to see a package of eggs with the words ‘diet includes bugs and other meat’.”

In order to restrict the birds’ diet, their environment must also be tightly regimented. The industry uses battery cages or large barns where the hens have no access to the outdoors or sunlight. The American Egg Board website states, “The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations.” However, tests conducted by Mother Earth News showed that pastured eggs (from hens that had an omnivorous diet with access to green plants and bugs) contain significantly higher nutrient values.

Here are the results per 100 grams: conventional eggs vs. the average of all the pastured eggs:

Vitamin A:
Conventional: 487 IU
Pastured avg: 792 IU

Vitamin D:
Conventional: 34 IU
Pastured avg: 136 – 204 IU

Vitamin E:
Conventional: 0.97 mg
Pastured avg: 3.73 mg

Conventional: 10 mcg
Pastured avg: 79 mcg

Omega-3 fatty acids:
Conventional: 0.22 g
Pastured avg: 0.66 g

The superior nutrient values of pastured eggs notwithstanding, how the birds are raised is also a question of ethics and sustainability. We would prefer to support the topsoil-building practices of polyculture where we are able, but sometimes we find it nearly impossible to procure local eggs from hens that forage for their natural diet. It’s especially difficult when we’re cruising in remote areas during the summer. If one can find a local grower, it is important to ask what the hens are eating, as the farmer be may be relying on grain feed. Some supplementation with grain is okay, though it does slant the fatty acid profile toward Omega-6 PUFAs.

When we arrived for a two-month stay in Friday Harbor last July, we immediately began searching for pastured eggs, checking with all our previous local sources. Alas, during the ‘high season’, the farmers on San Juan Island have a limited supply. It seems that the numerous ‘bed and breakfast’ establishments have standing orders for all available eggs. Rarely were there any for sale at the weekly Farmer’s Market. We were very disappointed because it had always been easy to buy local eggs on the island during winter and early spring.

We resigned ourselves to buying eggs at the grocery store. We bought Omega-3 free-range eggs, a lesser choice. One really can’t be sure what the term ‘free-range’ means since it’s not regulated. Sometimes it only means that the producer has opened a small door at one end of a huge barn– access to a fenced bare dirt or concrete area. These chickens choose to stay indoors where the feed is dispensed.

In the US, only 5% of eggs are ‘non-cage’, though there is some hope for the future. The citizens of California recently passed a ballot initiative that will effectively ban hen cages in the state as of 2015. Interestingly, we read that sales of cage-produced eggs increased by 11% in 2007 due to price promotions, while organic egg sales fell. The industry took this as evidence that consumers wanted cheap eggs more than ‘welfare-friendly’ ones. We who believe in SOLE food – sustainable, organic, local, ethical – have some work to do!

As soon as we returned to Sacramento for the winter a few weeks ago, our search for Good Eggs began anew. We found several postings on craigslist and contacted the farmers. Upon questioning, we learned that all were using commercial feed and that the hens were not allowed to forage. We kept searching.

Eureka! A conscientious farmer about 25 miles away in Wilton raises chickens the natural way! We were pleased to learn too that her parents live just minutes from us. They visit the Wilton farm weekly and offered to bring our eggs home with them. So, we are now enjoying delicious, optimally nutritious, pastured eggs from Nicole– dozens of them each week. As we said, we eat a LOT of eggs! We are grateful to Nicole for her commitment to the well-being of her chickens. Healthy hens lay healthful eggs. YUM!

Obtaining good food requires a little more effort, but it’s insignificant in comparison to the dedication of local farmers.

At last, a blog

We have been talking about starting a low-carb/high fat blog for months. When we are cruising aboard our boat, we have no internet access, so it has been an impossible dream. This winter we are back on land for a few months and we have much to share. We’ve been reading a lot and refining our choices about how to use food as a tool to live as long as possible, as free from illness as possible. Our very low carb, high fat diet that is also free of grains and PUFAs is not novel any longer, though we still get questioning looks from the folks we meet. The momentum has shifted and the internet is carrying the message, building speed, toward a diet based on our ancestral genes. Call it primal, paleo, evolutionary, or cave man. It’s all based on the awareness that the conventional wisdom of the past 50 years has failed miserably to bring us the robust health we all seek. The wisdom of our ancestors, who possessed abundant health, is the place we need to start. Only by questioning the dogma repeated endlessly by our doctors, our media, and our government can we save ourselves from a slow suicide by diet.

We hope to share some of our nutritional discoveries– those that have become second nature to us and those that we are currently implementing. We may post a recipe now and then but our food has devolved into extremely simple fare. Nearly every day, we seek to uncover enlightening information and new sites devoted to the investigation of diet and health. These we will post for your exploration. We hope you will come to value our small contribution to the grassroots movement that strives to tell the truth about what keeps us healthy or makes us ill.