Neo-Agutak: “Eskimo Ice Cream”

UPDATE: Melissa has given this dish a great name: “Neo-Agutak,” after the Inuit dish Agutak or “Eskimo ice cream.”

Eating certain foods during a fast can increase its health benefits.

In the book we recommend coconut oil and fiber-rich calorie-poor plant foods. Our reasoning is:

  • Short-chain fats in coconut oil make the fast more ketogenic. Ketones have benefits for immunity, neuronal function, cancer suppression, and HDL production. They also reduce glucose requirements, making the fast less stressful.
  • Fiber in plants may be digested by gut bacteria to butyrate, a beneficial short-chain fat.
  • Anti-microbial plant compounds help fight gut pathogens and biofilms, shifting the balance of power in the gut toward commensal species.

Good food choices during a fast include green leafy vegetables, which are highly nutritious; traditional herbal spices, like oregano or turmeric, which have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity; and berries, which are rich in antimicrobial compounds.

What I Ate During Today’s Fast

Baby spinach, cranberries, and coconut oil.

First, I put a layer of baby spinach in a bowl:

Next, I add cranberries and coconut oil:

Then, I heat them in the microwave for a few minutes. After the coconut oil has melted and the spinach shrunk, I add more spinach and cranberries. You can also add spices to taste. Then, another few minutes in the microwave so that most of the cranberries burst their skins, and let it cool. It will look like this:

This bowl has about 125 carb calories from a half-pound of cranberries, about 500 fat calories from coconut oil, and a host of gut-cleaning pathogen-disabling plant compounds. It tastes great (I think), and makes a passable Christmas decoration!

I started eating this about 1 pm. I had eaten 3/4 of it by 4 pm, when I added 3 egg yolks. It was finished by 6 pm. This was my only food before dinner.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Yes! Thanks, Melissa, I didn’t know about agutak, the original recipe with reindeer fat, seal oil, and wild berries looks great!

  2. That’s really hardcore. I can dig the spinach and cranberries, but I don’t think my stomach could handle that much coconut oil.

  3. I hardly notice the coconut oil with all the cranberries.

  4. I think the purpose of the fast is to keep insulin levels as low as possible. So I agree with the coconut oil.

    But isn’t spinach and cranberries going to create a insulin response?

  5. Dr. Jaminet, I’m awaiting the arrival of your book so I can more thoroughly “digest” your philosophy. I consume a 90% Paleo Diet as does my bride. Coconut oil is a daily component. No adverse effects other than thirst (?)We’ve just recently re-introduced cooked spinach and I’ve resolved to develop a “taste” for it which is a challenge. I wonder about the cranberries. I’ll give it a go. Looking forward to reading your book (I decided not to wait for the Kindle version).

  6. Hi Jake,

    I may talk about that in my next post.

    Yes, in one sense the sugars in berries take away some of the benefits of the fast. But you can get that back simply by extending the fast a bit, since glucose is consumed ~25 calories/hr eating 150 carbs is like shortening the fast by 6 hours.

    But there are other ways in which the fast is beneficial. Autophagy promotion is driven by protein deprivation and by the presence of ketones, as well as by glycogen deprivation. This meal has no protein and the coconut oil amplifies ketone production.

    Another benefit is remodeling of gut flora. Here I think the berries deliver benefits well in excess of their cost in sugars. In my upcoming post I’ll talk about why that’s important to me.

  7. Agutak is made with Crisco now. 🙁

  8. Y’all must get ahold of the Anore Jones book. She has an agutak that has greens in it.

  9. It does look christmasy 🙂 I found this blog 2 days ago (through the healthy skeptic) and have since ordered the book. I feel like I’ve finally found a path to help heal my chronic illness! Ketogenic diets like the one you describe seem to be the only thing that help a bit (but not enough), but I wasn’t sure why. Anyway thought I’d share: I decided to go ahead and do a ketogenic fast (with 12T coconut oil) for the coming 36 hours. Enjoy your fast and thank you for all the information in the blog!

  10. Aren’t you concerned the microwaves could eradicate all of the antibacterial or antifungal activity of the coconut oil? Some people use it to sterilize wash cloths. And microwaving clearly falls into the “high heat” category of cooking, so the vitamin C of the cranberries were probably inactivated too. It would be interesting to see research on microwave’s effect on nutrition.

  11. i’ve tried a 1 day coconut oil fast (probably drinking about 10 tbsp with plenty of warm water) and found I was chained to the toliet. is this something your bowels have to work up to?

  12. Hi Chris,

    I saw that! But not ours.

    Hi Claire,

    Welcome! When you feel like it, tell us more about your illness. The book has a list of illnesses that benefit from ketogenic diets.

    Hi Poisonguy,

    For October and part of November, I was eating the cranberries raw. But then I read somewhere that the anthocyanin availability of cranberries was maximized if they were cooked to near 100 C. I tried the above recipe and liked the taste.

    I can’t seem to find the source for that now.

    I’m not concerned about vitamin C, as I supplement that, nor am I concerned that the fatty acids in coconut oil will be degraded by microwaves — saturated fats are fairly heat stable.

  13. Hi steve,

    Possibly there’s something wrong in the small intestine that makes fat / short-chain fat digestion difficult. Short-chain fats have a unique routing path to the liver so you might have trouble with them even if you don’t with longer-chain fats. Do you have any independent signs of any gut issues?

    I would avoid the coconut oil for now, but try to get foods like the cranberries that are good for gut health. You can look at gallbladder/bile nutrients as well.

    Possibly if you mix a small amount of coconut oil (2 tbsp) with a large amount of food, such as the cranberries and spinach, you might find it digests OK. Taking the oil straight with only water is the most challenging way for your digestive tract, and 10 tbsp is a lot.

  14. Can’t this be done just as easily in a steamer or slow cooked on the stove top? I would worry that the micro-wave would destroy whatever nutrition is in the food. I would start with slow cooking the cranberries, maybe with just a little water, and then add the spinach and coconut oil towards the end.

  15. Hi Ann –

    Yes, that would probably be a healthier way to prepare it … On the other hand, we have to balance health against not having to clean pots. 🙂

  16. Quote:
    … and a host of gut-cleaning pathogen-disabling plant compounds.

    I wonder about that. Research suggests that microwaving causes 97% loss of flavonoids in broccoli. Boiling caused 66% loss, high pressure boiling 47%. Steaming had minimal effect. [1]
    How applicable this is to microwaved spinach, cranberries, and coconut oil, I don’t know. But it does seem like some plant compounds are not very microwave tolerant.


    [1] Vallejo, F. et al. Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Oct. 2003; 83(14):1511-1516
    Note: found in chapter 16 of Anthony Colpo’s “The Great Cholesterol Con”.

  17. Hi John,

    Thanks for the data. That certainly puts a different color on the microwave question; I didn’t think the loss could be 97%.

    Best, Paul

  18. Microwaved it?! Umm, that is definitely NOT paleo and certainly not recommended for anything other than maybe heating water.

    Let’s see super high energy bombarding your carefully selected foods and violently disrupting bonds and configurations, especially proteins.

    I have not kept up on the latest research, just got rid of yet another “convenience” item that is really not necessary at all.

  19. Paul, a good stainless steel double boiler to steam stuff is great. All it takes is a quick rinse and a wipe with a paper towel to clean.

  20. Karl, If I were committed to Paleo in all things I’d have to disable the smoke detectors every time we light the bonfire in the living room.

    That said, I’m intrigued that microwaves can destroy 97% of a protein. I wonder if this method can detoxify other foods? Perhaps microwaved oatmeal isn’t so bad. Can microwaving cream eliminate dairy sensitivity?

    erp, thanks. Once again, I have to learn life’s lesson that laziness is not the way to get ahead.

  21. Anand Srivastava

    I am not sure how you can cook without heating substances. Microwave are not a very different form of cooking. They are actually less energetic radiation than the infrared Grok would normally cook in using a fire.

    The real trouble with Microwave is that it uses a very high intensity. This can be reduced by using lower power settings. But this does not work on normal microwaves. The best microwaves are with transformers which can actually turn down the intensity rather than just turning the radiation on and off.

    I have seen that Panasonic sells such microwaves. They are more expensive but I would think are well worth the investment.

    I am not even sure flavonoids are so great for us. At least Stephan had given some interesting research showing that the actually benefits happen because of the body’s reaction to it. As such the benefits are when the flavonoids are less in the food. So the reduction in the flavonoids may actually be a good thing.

    • Thanks, Anand. I intend to address the flavonoid issue a bit in my next post … The attraction for me is not the effects in the body so much as in the gut, where they can poison pathogens and also inhibit gastrointestinal cancers.

  22. Paul, thank you so much for the warm welcome 🙂 I have gastroparesis, i.e. stomach/duodenal dysmotility (but not diabetes), which started after an unknown illness while traveling in Brazil 7 years ago and has gotten progressively worse. I started trying ketogenic diets this summer because I figured there must be something wrong with sugars if its mostly diabetics who have this disease. It definitely seems to help, but what I’ve done so far is hard to stick to and isn’t a sure thing – my stomach can get upset pretty easily. So on bad days I often drink tea with honey – it seems the only thing that stays in and gives me energy. But now I am wondering if I’ve been doing more harm than good with all that honey. I never tried rice or potatoes as part of the diet so I really like that possibility for an energy source. I really appreciate all the info on your blog! best, claire

  23. I would not say that I was fasting if I consumed more than 625 calories during any period of that “fast.” You say you took in 500 calories from fat, 125 calories from carbs, then 3 egg yolks. An egg yolk supplies 54 calories. Hence, you took in more than 775 calories during what you call a “fast.” This is enough calories to be counted a meal. It can’t even really be counted as caloric restriction. In other words, I would say that your fast ended at 1pm, not 6pm.

  24. Hi Don,

    Welcome! I love your blog.

    I think there are different kinds of fasts for different purposes. Several factors in addition to calorie restriction promote autophagy. One is protein restriction, which continued until 6 pm; another is ketosis, which likewise continued until 6 pm thanks to the coconut oil.

    This is all in the context of a daily intermittent fast. So, I had no food from 8 pm the night before to 1 pm, or 17 hours, and then I relaxed the fast a bit to avoid any glycogen deficiency, but continued elements of the fast another 5 hours or so.

    By the way, we Catholics are allowed a meal on fast days, so our definition of a fast is somewhat flexible. 🙂

    Best, Paul

  25. Hi claire,

    It’s remarkable how many chronic health problems begin with an illness in a tropical country. Our view is that chronic infections with pathogens are a primary cause of many chronic health conditions.

    You might try intermittent fasting and foods like this “neo-agutak” as I am doing this to help heal the gut and defeat any residual chronic infections I may still have. These techniques should also be helpful for your condition.

    Best, Paul

  26. I have a Panasonic microwave but mostly my husband uses it to warm the half & half for his espresso and Americano coffee. I wouldn’t miss it if it was gone (I’d be glad for some more more cabinet space, actually.

    I limit my use of the microwave for a variety of reasons, including not wanting to perpetuate a “instant” view of food with our 12 yo.

    I rarely heat/reheat anything on full power (in the microwave or on the stove) because it is entirely too easy to over cook and undercook foods that way. I often stop and stir to redistribute the food, so microwave use still requires my attention.

    Most of the time I prefer to use the range or oven even though increases washing up chores. When I’m preparing multiple items for a meal and my attention is divided, I have better control over the work flow that way.

  27. Paul,
    I like to make popcorn using organic expeller pressed coconut oil. Do you consider this a safe and healthy way to get coconut oil into the diet?

  28. Hi Paul,

    I am in the camp of those who would like to avoid the microwave. Heating water or watery food in it might be ok, but I read somewhere that it affects lipids’ structure too so I’m rather cautious and rarely use it to reheat the left-overs (it is also a bad idea to heat refrigerated expressed breast milk)
    As a Eastern-European I’m not so happy about the recent emphasis on coconut oil. It might have a lot of beneficial effects but it hasn’t been consumed traditionally in the temperate areas. It is not even available in many countries in Europe. People should be able to have a healthy diet with what is available locally or should we be so strictly paleo as to recommend only foods that were eaten by man 50.000 years ago? We never heard of broccoli or sweet potatoes when I was a child, my parents still don’t consume these foods, lamb and beef were rarely consumed for cultural reasons, so yes our diet might be skewed towards pork with sauerkraut/other pickles during winter and spring and chicken with other vegetables during summer and autumn. What do you think?
    Nobody at home ate oily fish and my grand-father lived until the age of 96, with no major illness, his sister is 91 and still healthy. Were they just lucky?

  29. I have a question about religious fasts. If what you say is correct that protein restriction has health promoting properties, is it not strange that these religiously enforced fasts twice or more a year might be beneficial? Is this why calorie restricted vegetarian diets are better at reducing ageing markers than low-carb diets?

  30. Hi simona,

    I do think a lot of traditional religious practices had health benefits.

    I don’t think it’s necessary or even desirable to eat only local foods for health. There is a whole world of healthy foods. Tropical plant foods tend to be healthier for us than high-latitude plant foods, because of their lower PUFA content.

    I think a diet of pork and chicken is OK, but the PUFA content tends toward 10% of calories which I think is a little high. I think your family’s diet is very healthy and I would expect a lifespan in the high 90s from it … but perhaps cutting down on PUFA a bit more might have brought your grandfather into the hundreds!

    I’m going to do a post on the microwave issue. I’m open to the idea that microwaves are harmful to food quality, but I’m having trouble finding convincing evidence and I think the criticism is exaggerated.

    Best, Paul

    • Hi, Paul. Why do chicken & pork have a high PUFA content? From the foods they consume, such as some grains? Would pasture raised chicken & pork have a lower PUFA content? Which meats & other protein/ fat sources like eggs have he lowest PUFA’s? (My husband has pattern B dense LDL &, very low HDL & other issues, so he has been told to eliminate PUFAS. Of course, we all need to). Thanks!!!

  31. Hi Paul,

    I welcome your idea to post about microwaves. I tried to research this awhile back and only found lots of conflicting evidence that confused me even more. It’s hard to tell if people are just being alarmists, or if there is any valid science behind their claims. As a non-scientist, I fear my ability to evaluate various claims is somewhat limited which can make me more prone to falling for scare tactics. As a result I will welcome your input on this topic.

    Cooking and reheating without a microwave would be a hassle, but definitely doable if there are health reasons to do so.

    Maybe it would be another small way to slow down and get back to more traditional ways of living…not so bad overall!

  32. Just devils advocate about the use of microwaves: I recently read about an experiment where someone used water that was microwaved to test against water that was not microwaved to newly growing plants. The plants with the microwaved water (of course cooled first) did not thrive nor grow but the other watered one did grow healthy. Wondering how microwaving alters food. I hear both sides of the coin everyday on the internet.

    I love your recipe of spinach, coconut oil, and cranberry’s. I have all that available and I want to try it today.

  33. Healthy meal, but I don’t know how this could taste good.

    good luck with it!

  34. Claire,
    My husband got a weird tropical disease many years ago in India, one that the tropical diseases hospital in London did not fix (he also had Malaria). He went to a traditional Chinese doctor who diagnosed it very quickly and he was healed with Chinese herbs.
    Just a thought!

  35. Perfect Health Diet » Do Microwaves Destroy Flavonoids? - pingback on December 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm
  36. That’s the thing, they didn’t have a healthy diet, not by the standards that we use in our discussions.(wheat, sunflower oil and occasionally desserts were present) Neither did many other centenarians, like some of those Ashkenazi Jews.
    The only positive that I can see knowing them was that they wouldn’t eat a lot, especially my grand mother, so maybe good genes, due to better diet of their parents, calorie restriction and low protein (not vegetarian) helped them cope better with the rest of the toxic food.

  37. Hi simona,

    Wheat consumption is like Russian roulette; many people do it with little observable trouble, but many run into severe problems.

    The longevity researchers have found a lot of variability in the diets of centenarians, but supercentenarians seem to consistently eat extremely healthy diets, as we remark in the book. You can get to 100 on a bad diet, but not 110.

  38. ‘That said, I’m intrigued that microwaves can destroy 97% of a protein. I wonder if this method can detoxify other foods? Perhaps microwaved oatmeal isn’t so bad. Can microwaving cream eliminate dairy sensitivity?’

    Hilarious! Though the intention was possibly, not?!

  39. Hi Jenna,

    Yes, alas, it’s very doubtful that microwaves can detoxify foods.

    But I do think it’s funny that people worry about microwaves destroying nutrients without ever thinking about the advantages of destroying toxins.

    Best, Paul

  40. Hi! I just ordered your book, so maybe this is covered there, but I’m really confused by your meals during the 16hour fast. Is it just a protein/sugar fast? What foods can you eat during the fast? I was under the assumption that you consumed nothing but water or tea during the 16 hours.

    I already eat a mostly traditional foods diet, eliminating wheat is going to be my main hurdle. What about soaked oatmeal?

    Also, how do you feel about honey/maple syrup – or are all sugars a no no?

  41. Hi April,

    On short fasts (<16 hours) I usually don't eat anything except water, salt and other electrolytes, and tea with or without lemon juice.

    However, coconut oil / medium chain triglycerides are always welcome on a fast. They produce ketones which relieve the stress of the fast, while maintaining nearly all its benefits. I would recommend coconut oil on all long fasts.

    Other things you can eat while fasting include calorie-free fiber or vegetables (such as spinach).

    In this case I included the cranberries because I hoped they would improve my digestive tract flora. So they were a therapeutic food.

    So that made it less of a fast, but not a normal diet either -- a therapeutic manner of eating.

    It's certainly not obligatory for anyone to eat the same way!

    As far as traditional foods:

    We avoid oatmeal as well as wheat; rice is the only grain we eat. Oatmeal is not as bad as wheat, but it has its own toxins and I think it's better to stick to our "safe starches."

    But I think you would find that rice products make great substitutes for both wheat and oatmeal. There are rice cereals, and many other rice dishes. Once you get used to rice you may find that wheat has a rather unpleasant, tough texture.

    Regarding honey or maple syrup, a little fructose is acceptable in certain circumstances -- after a fast, and combined only with saturated, not polyunsaturated, fats. However, we personally favor glucose-based sweeteners. We have been using rice syrup lately and enjoying it quite a bit. Our only fructose now is from fruits, berries, and vegetables.

    Best, Paul

  42. Thank you so much for your response! Your information is really helpful. What’s your favorite glucose based sweetener right now, other than rice syrup?

    P.S., I do love rice products actually!

  43. Hi April,

    We list a selection on the Supplement Recommendations page:

    Any “safe starch” syrup, like rice syrup or tapioca syrup, is good.

    I’m less positive about dextrose derived from cornstarch, or barley malt, since they have some low-level grain toxins. But they’re better than tortillas or beer. We included them for lack of better powdered sweeteners.

    There are also various calorie-free sweeteners, which we don’t use, but some may prefer.

    Best, Paul

  44. Cool! Thank you so much!

  45. Hi Paul,
    What do you think about a product called coconut butter for fasting? I absolutely can’t stomach coconut oil unless it is really a part of a meal. I love my coconut butter though, it is just pureed coconut- in 2 tbsp there is 18 g fat, 7 g carbs and 2 g protein.
    Is this a fasting food?
    Thanks a lot!

  46. Hi Hannah,

    It’s great! If I’m not mistaken most of the carbs are fiber, so it is a fine fasting food.

    Best, Paul

  47. Thanks- it is delicious, tastes like coconut icing!

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