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Paleo in a Food Desert: Perfection is not imminent

By Jenice Johnson, assistant director of marketing

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One thing that hasn't changed since moving to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is my occasional lack of desire to cook for myself.

I moved to the location of our headquarters, Kyle, SD, in January. Since then, I have stayed pretty paleo but I will admit I'm not as strict as I was while living at my home in Dallas, TX. The difference between when I don't feel like cooking here and when I didn't feel like cooking when I was living in Dallas is the lack of access to alternatives. For example, there is a great little place on Greenville Avenue in Dallas that I loved to go when I didn't feel like cooking, and I could still get quality, paleo-friendly food. Actually, there are quite a few places like that back home. However, when that feeling happens here, your best bet is an hour and a half drive away.

I have caught myself heading to the local burrito stand here for a something in a corn tortilla when I don't feel like cooking the night before (or for the week) for my lunches. Because I don't normally eat that way, I tend to not feel the greatest afterward, even though the food is tasty. And then there is access to other foods that are not so great to eat, but are easy to find -- chips, for one. I have always loved tortilla chips and they are my Achilles heel.

Obviously, there is something called planning. But now I not only have to plan the meals ahead, but I have to plan the travel time, budget my spending for the food and gas and carve out time to prepare the meals. It's doable, but every week? Sometimes, not so much and especially if it's a week you don't really feel like it or can't budget for the travel time. Also, I have a beverage refrigerator in the cabin I'm staying in, so space for food is limited. However, all is not lost! Even though I may have my moments, I'm on track overall. I still avoid gluten, refined sugars, grain, etc. I still stay active swinging my kettlebells, flipping tractor tires and I just started yoga at home -- keeping in movement when I can. But yes, perfection is not imminent!

Even though I don't always like cooking for myself all the time, I do enjoy cooking for other people. I cook a paleo or paleo-ish meal for the office once a week, so it is nice that there are folks who enjoy the food. Last week, I wanted to make homemade chili Tanka Hot Dogs, but that was kind of an ambitious feat considering people typically like those with hot dog buns and not with lettuce wraps or with a fork. So instead of gluten, I opted for corn and made Tanka Hot Dog Tacos. Corn, considering the GMO issue isn't ideal, but we rarely include it in our weekly meals. And even though there is cheese and sour cream, everyone used them judiciously. The recipe is below, but feel free to omit the dairy. If you include it, make sure it's full-fat and local, if possible, if you follow a primal/paleo diet.

Tanka Dog Tacos

Two packages of Tanka Dogs
1/4 cup chili powder
2 T of coconut oil
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup cumin
1 onion, diced
2 cups of black olives

Dice up your onion. Take the Tanka Dogs out of the package and sliced them into pieces. Start a sauce pan of about two tablespoons of coconut oil and saute the dogs and onion. Add your spices and the crushed tomatoes. Cook until the onions are soft and everything is heated. Serve in a corn tortilla or lettuce wrap. Top with the black olives and other taco toppings you enjoy.

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