In my quest to continue cooking in the kitchen, I have been trying more and more recipes and personal “culinary” experimentations. Something that keeps intriguing my taste buds is one of the latest trends in the health and nutrition industry, the Paleo diet. I find numerous cookbooks, iPhone apps, and websites centered around this ideology. I am always intrigued about new “diets.” After reading the books about the Whole 30 program I wanted to dig deeper into the principles behind it. To become “Paleo” means you eat foods lacking harmful additives and preservatives and have been minimally processed (close to the source). Basically, you eat as our ancient hunter-gather ancestors ate (Fred Flinstone probably indulged in a few of Wilma’s Paleo dinners). This diet includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts, healthy oils and coconut derivatives. The foods you avoid are all forms of dairy, grains (yes, even whole grain), legumes (think peanuts, beans, and peas), processed sugars and all foods containing additives of any kind. So long and farewell to Hostess cupcakes and harmful food dyes. So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame? The reasoning behind eliminating these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.
So why would someone want to cut out entire food groups, such as heart-healthy whole grain or protein-packed edamame? The reasoning behind cutting these items out of your diet is to reduce digestive issues normally caused by these foods.
Digestive inflammation is a leading cause of certain health issues. The problem is many people walking around today don’t even realize they suffer from inflammatory reactions due to dairy (lactose) or gluten. Simply eliminating foods that contain inflammatory triggers can improve someone’s health in a matter of weeks. It has also been touted to help some people with their weight loss journeys or improve the autoimmune problems of others. Paleo has also been linked with aiding some people with their weight loss journeys. Foods that can trigger inflammation in the body can also add on pounds despite the person calorie counting or exercising every day. Some researchers go on to say Paleo diets can also help improve cardiovascular health, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and certain autoimmune problems.
Whatever your choice may be, if you decide to go Paleo you will need to clean out the pantry, fridge and freezer and re-stock with Paleo-friendly ingredients. You may also find yourself doing some cooking and whipping up things like paleo mayonnaise (extremely simple and delicious) or cashew cream (which can be made sweet or savory). Eggs are also another large staple in the Paleo diet, but individuals with an egg allergy have to get creative on certain recipes. Other must-haves are good cooking oils such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or any other nut oil (no peanuts, please). You will need to avoid things with soy or made with corn-based products (canola oil is a biggie), so be aware of what are in the condiments you keep in your fridge (think soy lecithin). Just start label reading and you will get the hang of watching out for Paleo sabotagers.
If this all sounds too intimidating and time-consuming, there are more and more products coming out on the market geared towards a Paleo lifestyle. Some items I use at home I found off Amazon or at my local health food store. If you think this diet would be for you then I highly recommend browsing some good Paleo websites, cookbooks, and magazines. Find a game-plan to make your major and minor switches in the kitchen easier. Lifestyle changes are not always easy and these sources contain helpful tips and recipes. One of my go-to apps on my phone is Nom Nom Paleo (nomnompaleo.com). You can get step-by-step recipes ranging anywhere from desserts to main courses.
Tonight I made dinner from one of the recipes I thought looked tasty. It is a new version of Asian “fried rice.” How do you have fried rice without actually using rice? The answer is cauliflower. Put it through a food processor and your taste buds won’t miss this grain one bit. Some grocery stores may even carry a packaged grated cauliflower that is easy to use in the recipe, which is what I ended up doing tonight. Cauliflower plays a perfect second fiddle to its carbohydrate counterpart, just watch how long you cook it so the vegetable doesn’t become too mushy. The meal tonight was new for my husband and I, but he was pleasantly surprised with how good it tasted!
The actual recipe, with pictures and step-by-step instructions, for Asian Cauliflower Fried Rice is posted below.
If you wonder what it is you can and can’t drink on a Paleo diet, the options are actually quite good. Besides water, there are plenty of healthy drinks available, so long as you avoid those bad sugars forbidden by the Paleo Police. As for alcohol, well there is hope in that area too. Vodkas made without potatoes or grains are absolutely fine, as are red and white wines (they are made from grapes) and brandy (made from wine). Avoid things that are made using grain products, such as scotch or beer. I would drink a nice white wine, maybe a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough region of Australia with the fried rice recipe. Something that would match the lightness of the meal. You can eat, drink and be merry all while fueling your body with healthy alternatives.
I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t before, you might be surprised at how easy and tasty going Paleo can be for you. As I continue to research and experiment with Paleo I hope to let you in on helpful tips or pass on other great eats to make your own journey a little bit tastier.
Until next time, cheers!