You are going to a family gathering. At said gathering, the meal is pasta focused. And when I say pasta focused I mean the good old wheat-based, gluten-filled, make-the-rumblies-in-my-tumblies, kind of pasta. I love that stuff, but it’s just not a good idea for me to partake in too much of it.

So what’s a gluten-avoiding/paleo eating guy to do?

How about tasty meatballs with marinara sauce and skip the pasta? Yum!

Except most meatballs have bread crumbs in them as a binder.

Drat! Foiled again…….or maybe not.

Yes, if you go with store bought meatballs or with grandma’s secret recipe, you are likely to end of with something that can cause you…you gluten sensitive little darling that you are…um…issues. However, I’ve found that you don’t really need a binder. Here’s how if you want to give it a try.

Hat tip to NomNomPaleo and The Food Lover’s Kitchen for a few ideas.

Also, this recipe scales nicely. I made 5 pounds worth of meatballs by just multiplying everything by 5.

You will notice that there are no eggs in this recipe. I’ve found that they are not needed.


  • 1/2 pound ground beef, preferably grass fed. I used 93% lean
  • 1/2 pound ground pork, again, preferably responsibly and naturally raised.
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt ( You can go with 3/4 tsp if you prefer )
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper


1. Let the ground beef and ground pork warm to room temperature. This is important. You’ll freeze your fingers off if you make meatballs my way if you don’t ;)

2. Preheat your grill on high or medium high.

3. In a large bowl, combine the beef and pork thoroughly. As alluded to above, I use my hands. It’s just easier.

4. Once combined, add the onion and about half the spices and mix them in thoroughly. Finally add the second half of the spices and again mix in thoroughly. You could probably just dump all the spices in at once, but I like to spread it out. It seems to mix in more evenly that way.

6. Using your hands, a medium sized cookie dough scoop, or method of your choice, create decent sized meatballs and put them on a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet is just for transportation. I usually scoop a fairly generous scoop and end up with around 12, 1 1/2 – 2″ meatballs per pound of mixture.

7. Clean off your hands :)

8. Head out to the grill with your lovingly formed little morsels of meaty goodness and pop those bad boys on the grill.


9. Close the lid and grill for 4 minutes.

10. Flip the meatballs and grill for another 4 minutes. Be gentle here. If they stick to the grill, then they need to cook a bit longer. They will release easily when done.

11. Remove from grill and enjoy however you wish to enjoy your tasty, good-for-you, whole food meatballs.



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My Health Journey: The End of the Beginning

by kriggins on June 27, 2012

This is me on June 24th, 2010.

Click to enbiggen, as if I wasn’t big enough already.

Wowsa. I cringe when I look at what I used to carry around.

I have written two other posts in this series, which you can read here and here, but I will summarize:

Statistic 2010 2011
Weight  235+ 210
Total Cholesterol  249  179
LDL  151  85
HDL  25  43
Triglycerides  365  170
Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio  9.6  3.8


I made some pretty good progress in that first year. Again, details can be found in the posts I point to above, but the short and sweet of the changes I made to affect those improvements were:

  1. Exercise – I started Crossfitting 4-5 days per week. This turned out to be too much for my body to handle and I dropped to three.
  2. Nutrition – I greatly reduced the amount of grains and refined sugars that I ate.

That’s all cool and wonderful, but with a post title like “The End of the Beginning,” I’m sure you are wondering how things are going now.

Still here?


In all seriousness, things are going absolutely fantastic. I had a physical today, the 27th of June, 2012, and everything is good. In fact, doc didn’t suggest any changes.

Let’s look at the numbers first.

Statistic 2010 2011 Today
Weight 235+ 210 193
Total Cholesterol (<200 is good) 249 171 179
LDL (<120 is good, <=100 is ideal) 151 85 109
HDL (>40 is good, >=60 is ideal) 25 43 50
Triglycerides (<=100 is ideal) 365 170 99
Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio (<=3.5 is ideal) 9.96 3.98 3.58
Triglycerides/HDL Ratio (<=2.0 is ideal) 14.6 5.0 2.0
HDL/LDL Ration (>=0.3 is desirable) 0.12 0.51 0.46
Body Fat % (2010 and 2011 est.) 27 18.1 10.8


First. Yup, that’s 40+ pounds gone.

Poof. No longer on ma bod. (If by poof we mean gone because of a whole lot of work and a whole lot of change)

Second. Those are some fabulous numbers. What’s more, every other number in my labs was in range, i.e. good. Not bad for a 47 year old. Reminder: Nutrition and exercise, no meds.

The most amazing part is a good chunk of that weight loss since 2011 has occurred over the last 6 weeks or so, with 10 pounds of it coming off in the last month.


I’m going to tell you in just a moment, but first, gratuitous shirtless photo taken on June 24th, 2012. Notice that is exactly 2 years since the first photo in this post.

Click to enbiggen.

A bit less of me than before, huh? Wanna see side by side?


click to enbiggen

Just a tad bit of a difference.

Now to answer the ‘how’ question.

It’s really quite simple. Read The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and do everything he says. If you would like to know more before buying the book, you can read The Primal Blueprint 101 online.

However, I’m not going to leave you hanging since this is about my story, not Mark’s. This is how it happened.

I started Crossfit. I saw progress. I started messing with my nutrition. I saw more progress. In fact, I have made many changes to my nutrition over the last 2 years. All of them, slowly, but surely moving me towards stricter adherence to a paleo/primal diet.

About a month ago, I finally decided that I wanted to see what would happen if I bought in whole hog to eating primarily whole foods, avoiding most grains, and removing dairy and refined sugar from my diet. Yes, even cookies and ice cream although I have snuck in some frozen yogurt a couple times. Second admission, I have some rice now and again. Result? I got even healthier and my Crossfit performance started to improve.

I also started paying attention to the other facets of Mark’s fitness plan. Succinctly said, that means lifting heavy things a few times each week, getting some low level activity in frequently, and sprinting once in a while.

What does this mean to me specifically?

This is what my weekly exercise plan looks like now.

  • I go to Crossfit Des Moines three times per week where I lift heavy things .
  • I also participate in the Crossfit metabolic conditioning workouts, i.e. workout of the day (WoD), those three days.
  • I try averaging 10,000 steps every day. I use FitBit to track and make sure.
  • I try to get a three mile walk in on days I don’t go to Crossfit. I try to make  one of those walks longer.
  • I do a sprinting workout once per week.

That may seem like a lot of exercise, but it really isn’t and I feel so much better for doing it.There is also the added benefit of 3-4 hours of think time built into my week as I walk.

The end result of going primal is 10 pounds of fat loss in the last month. 10. You be the judge as to whether it has been effective or not.

Could I have made progress more quickly? Maybe. I could have made all these changes quickly and maybe gotten to this point a lot faster. However, that could also have been disastrous. As we say in Crossfit, slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Taking it one bit at a time made some pretty drastic changes palatable and really not that hard. It also gave me time to research everything I was doing and convince myself it was the right choice.

This is getting pretty long so I am going to end with an explanation of the title of this post. By ‘End of the Beginning,’ I mean that I am now what I consider healthy or well, but well isn’t good enough. I want to be fit. I want to excel.

Crossfit believes that there is a continuum that goes from sick -> well -> fit. I want to be fit. That means that my focus is now shifting from being on a health journey to being on a fitness journey. Who know where this will lead me, but I’m pretty excited to find out.

Performance is now the goal, not fat loss and health marker improvement. Those will take care of themselves as I continue to adhere to my exercise and nutrition plan. That plan will take some tweaking to support my activity level, but the what I eat won’t change, just the amounts and ratios.

One final thing. None of this would have been possible without the love and support of my wife. Thank you and I love you babe!

There are a number of other resources that I have come to rely on that I will write about in the very near future.

As usual, comments are welcome below or if you prefer to send me a private message you can email me at kriggins _at_




Two years ago I started a photo project that I called 52 Weeks – An Amateur Photographer’s Project.

I made it 25 weeks before I fell of the wagon and for some reason never got back on.

Well, this week is week 26 of 2011 marked from the 1st of the year so I decided to pick it back up. I went out wandering today and took a few shots below are my favorites.



Alone in a Big Sky

Marching Power Towers

We’ll have to see what the rest of the year bring, but I am hopeful to finish this dude out.



My Health Journey: The One Year Point

by kriggins on June 17, 2011


I had my wellness screening at work yesterday. I have been eagerly awaiting this day. I made some changes almost exactly one year ago because I hit that last notch on my belt and even that wasn’t quite enough. Ahem, tight pants not attractive. That coupled with some very unimpressive, or impressive in a bad way, numbers in my last wellness screening finally convinced me that I needed to make some changes.

So I did.

I started doing Crossfit and then started making some changes to my diet. At the six month mark I wrote this. At that time, I had made what I considered some pretty good progress and was very happy.

There have been some setbacks and challenges along the way so I was a bit concerned going into the test yesterday.

There was no need.

My Results
Total Cholesterol (lower is better) Year ago 249 – Now 171
LDL Cholesterol (bad kind, lower is better) Year ago 151 – Now 85
HDL Choesterol (good kind, higher is better) Year ago 25 – Now 43
Triglycerides (lower is better) Year ago 365 – Now 170
Total Cholesteral/HDL Ration (lower is better) Year ago 9.8 – Now 3.8

Every one of those numbers was in the ‘really bad’ range and is now either in the normal or optimal range….All without drugs.


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by kriggins on January 15, 2011

Just had to post this shot from my 365 session yesterday too. Lots of fun I think.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens/Exposure: 50mm / ISO 400 / f/1.8 / 1/40sec / Handheld
Lighting: Available light
Post: Nothing beyond white balance tweaking and sharpening.


Assignment 1: Light Through The Snow

by kriggins on January 9, 2011

I am reading a book written by Tom Ang called “Digital Photography Masterclass.” It has an assignment for each chapter. I decided to go ahead and post my attempts at the assignments here. They will all be in the set Digital Photography Masterclass This is the first one.

The assignment was to take of picture of city lights, but I cheated a little and took a shot of the Christmas lights on the bushes in front of our house shining through the snow.

Nikon D7000 / ISO 3200 / 18-105m@52mm / f/6.3 / 1/25sec / Handheld


6/365: Three Faces

by kriggins on January 6, 2011

6/365: Three Faces

More playing with light. These are three sculptures that we have that we really like. I wanted them to look like they were floating in space. They actually rest on three stands that you can see sticking out of their foreheads. This time I used the umbrella in a shoot through configuration to get a softer light.

Camera and Exposure: Nikon D7000 / IO100 / 38mm / f/22 / 1/200s / handheld
Strobist: SB600 @ 1//1 through 60″ umbrella camera left aimed slightly in front.


5/365: Headed to the Coal Mine

by kriggins on January 5, 2011

5/365: Headed to the Coal Mine

A quick pre-sunrise shot as I was headed into work. Not real happy with it, but it counts :) Wednesday shots are likely to be like this. Wednesdays tend to be a very busy day for me.

Camera: Droid X
Exposure: Doesn’t really matter :)

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4/365: Jack the Corgi

by kriggins on January 4, 2011

4/365: Jack the Corgi

Just for Marisa :)

Jack the Corgi was waiting for me to quit pestering him so he could take a nap. You can tell he is just about out here :)

Camera: Nikon D7000
Exposure: ISO3200 / 105mm / f5.6 / 1/15s / Handheld. I did bump exposure .75 stops in post.


3/365: Self Portrait

by kriggins on January 3, 2011

3/365: Self Portrait

Well, I did it. I picked up a 60″ umbrella and light stand today. This is my first attempt at using it. I am sure you will see much more of it :)

Camera: Nikon D7000
Exposure: ISO 100 / 80mm / f16 / 1/125s
Lighting: SB600 @ 1/1.3 into 60″ umbrella