An experience shared is an experience doubled..

So here are some learnings after completing four [or is it five?] weeks on Paleo.  I decided to cap it at five because otherwise you’ll still be reading this tomorrow:

1. Its costs more to eat well.

My grocery bill is almost double – fresh produce and lots of meat, particularly where I live, is expensive.  Two adults are eating their way through around $300 food a week.  But, like I said, this is due in part to the fact that prices up here in Northern WA are super high because we’re a remote community. Lucky me.

2. Grocery shopping takes about 1/10th the time it used to and is super easy.  

It really is true, you just go straight to the fresh produce end, grab fruits & veg, skim along the back grabbing your meat and then pop into the freezer section at the other end to grab any frozens [eg fish, snap frozen veg, shellfish, etc.]  Then, unless you need to duck briefly into the darkside (read: the aisles) to visit the health food section [almond meal, organic raw honey, Linseed meal, etc] or the asian section [coconut cream, coconut milk, tapioca flour], you are DONE. Bang! Snap! Straight to the pool room! [For those outside Australia, this is a quote from a very Australian 1997 movie called “The Castle”. Its hilarious but please don’t think all Aussies are like the Kerrigan’s… except for the giant hearts part].  So – it really does take 10-20mins max to get everything you need because you only need to run the perimeter of your local supermarket. Score!

3. Organisation is paramount.

If you’re a meal planner – fantastic! You’re one step ahead of the rest of us.  If you’re not a meal planner [read: me] then …. now is a GREAT time to try something [else] new!  Failing to plan your meals and do the prep one day a week will not make it impossible to follow the Paleo way – I know this because it describes my journey thus far.  It just means that you will spend several periods a week staring into your fridge/pantry/freezer blankly for +/- five minutes, wondering what to eat or cook for dinner. You’ll google several paleo recipes at 1/2hr before dinner time, discarding each as you realise that you don’t have this or that crucial ingredient. You will visit your local grocery store several times a week [albeit briefly, refer point: 2] because you simply don’t have what you need to make an edible menu for the next few days.  The lesson here?  Sit down on a Saturday or Sunday, grab Robb Wolf’s food matrix [find this amazing tool here: http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/thePaleoSolution_FoodMatrix.pdf] and plan out your week’s meals, as best you can.  I am TOTALLY going to recommend that you start leaning towards the whole cook a bunch and eat for lunch method, whereby at least 3-4 times a week your lunch is made up of last nights dinner left overs. It just saves time and energy.  And – spend some time ‘prepping’.  Not for doomsday, for the following week. Eg: grate carrot/chop onion/slice mushrooms for salads, hardboil several eggs, make mayonnaise, make marinades/dressings, do any baking [muffins, frittata’s, crackers, biscuits]. Yes, it may take an hour or two on a weekend, but I guarantee it will save you hourS during the week. Trust me on this! Plus, you can involve the family and make it an activity, make it fun and encourage and develop their healthy eating/cooking habits. Note to readers: No, I am not currently following my own advice, but its a case of do as I say, not as I do.. 🙂

4. You will consume an enormous amount of eggs.

If you can – buy chickens!  I wish I could but our living arrangements [and our Siberian Husky, to be honest] kind of puts a kabosh on that. So if you’re in my boat, at least study up on what eggs are available to you, go for something reasonably priced if you can but do NOT ever, EVER purchase cage eggs – its abhorrent and I think it should be totally banned; strive to purchase free range, naturally fed hen eggs [eg grass fed, not grain fed] and always look for Omega3 enriched eggs.  If you can’t tick all the boxes – try finding Omega3 enriched eggs in my town 😦 – tick as many as you can, and at minimum, buy free range.  Or go without. Seriously.

 5. Snacking is hard if you a) don’t like nuts or b) don’t like fruit and/or are trying to lose weight.

For those of you who do like nuts and or fruit and or are not trying to lose weight – you can skip straight to the end.  Do not pass GO, do not expect $100 or a make up learning. You only get four.  For the rest, read on.

Sometimes, you just want to nibble on something.  Just a little bit of food. Maybe something sweet, maybe savoury.  Not a meal. So you go to the fridge and here are some typical choices:

  • Left over roast chicken from last night.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fruit
  • Eggs

Sigh. You close the fridge and open the pantry.  Its even more *gulp* bleak:

  • Herbs & spices
  • Coconut milk
  • Various types of flours
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Oils

Well.  That’s some seriously limited choices. The ‘easy’ snacks are nuts and fruit. What if you don’t like either??  I am not a nut fan and don’t really like fruit overly much. Plus, for those who are trying to slim down, consumption of fruit should be limited until you reach your goal leanness. So what do you do?  I think this is where your dedication [or lack thereof] to Paleo will really show and imagination is super useful.  Prep time on the weekend can also help here – bake some Paleo muffins, or egg/bacon frittata’s and keep them for snack attacks. Find one fruit or nut that you like.  Try celery with a nut butter on it.  Google ‘Paleo Snacks’ and then don’t be shocked when they are all healthy. First step though: Have a glass of water.  Years of comfortable existence have meant that what humans often translate as ‘feeling hungry’ is actually thirst. So if you feel a little pang of hunger, snack size, there’s a good chance that you’re actually just thirsty.  So try a glass of water or cup of tea. Wait ten minutes. If you still feel it, search for a snack.

So there you have it. Five of many things I’ve learned since 1AP [After Paleo].   Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go away and think of a title for this post, as the original title I had ‘How do you do what you do?’ no longer applies… as so often happens, once I clicked in the ‘body’ box and started typing, this post became something completely different to my original vision. Oops!

Eck so, eck so,

Paleo Girl.

Paleo…. or Primal??!

So, firstly, apologies for the absence of late, I’ve come off my 2 week swing at work and when you spend 14 days straight sitting at a PC for 12hrs a day, the LAST thing you want to do when you get some down time is… surprise… sit at a PC. But I’m sufficiently recovered now, so here I am.

[Note: I spent the first lot of downtime exploring cooking the Paleo way – came up with loads of yummy food – I WILL post recipes, or links to recipes, soon]

On my mind at the moment [today] though, is some interesting research outcomes that I experienced recently.  I was just doing my usual net surfing for Paleo stuff, and I kept coming across “Primal” as opposed to “Paleo”.  I had assumed they were the same thing, but apparently not.  So – I looked into “Primal”, mostly via an awesome blog called “Mark’s Daily Apple” [google it], and now I’m wondering… am I Paleo, or am I Primal??

The more I read, the more I got confused, concerned, etc., until my head was about to implode and I didn’t know WHAT I was.  So I shut the laptop down and walked away.  After a couple of days, I had the nerve to look again.

There are some key differences, and to get your head around them I suggest you head to a particular post on Mark’s blog = http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whats-the-difference-between-primal-and-paleo/#axzz2OMKOCyva

But there are also the key similarities, and I guess these are the most important: stop eating processed foods… they just are NOT good!  Don’t eat grains: we just are NOT supposed to. Cut out Dairy [or limit it, according to Primal]: our bodies are just NOT that able to deal with it. And don’t eat sugar: it was NEVER designed to be eaten by us, unless you mean grabbing a stalk from a sugar cane plant and munging on it.  And good luck with that – I have – ugh 😦

I guess the thing that motivated this post for me was that I did not appreciate, being already confused as the Paleo world seems vague enough to me now [some eat dairy, some don’t, some eat eggs, some don’t, etc.] by finding another diet that is strikingly similar but actually different, JUST to confuse me more.

But.  We are four weeks into our 3 mth trial.  My husband has lost 6kgs and now holding steady and I have lost 4.9kg [still going down, but more slowly now, and I’m sure will go up as I get toned….?].  We both feel better for eating this way.  We are both sticking to the ‘rules’ – neither of us have cheated yet, no 85/15 for us EXCEPTING when our remote location doesn’t allow for anything other than a slight cheat.  Actually that’s not totally true. We had ‘Paleo Pasta’ last night – you can buy it here: http://paleopasta.com/ – and it has both quinoa and xantham gum in it. But OH WELL. It was a tiny cheat and gave me a fix of pasta which is the one thing I am absolutely always going to miss.

I now cannot even fathom eating food that contain grains [esp corn – its EVERYWHERE] or any ingredient that has a number in brackets after it.

So. My conclusion in regards to Paleo / Primal is that I need to look into it more and I will most probably pick n choose what suits from both.  For example, I won’t be drinking soda with artificial sweetners, as allowed by the Paleo diet apparently; but I may start to include some dairy now that I’ve passed the initial 30 days, as allowed by the Primal diet.  My suggestion to any readers is to do the same.

I better go now… my husband has just informed me that I need to get dinner going because he’s hungry. On the menu tonight: lamb chops with a spice rub, broccolini with garlic and steamed squash.  Surprising how much I’m looking forward to such a ‘clean’ meal; I think my actual tastebuds have been revived!

Thanks for reading – follow me if you’ve not already – and feedback is ALWAYS welcome 🙂

Eck so, eck so,

Paleo Girl

Converting my favourite meal to Paleo

So – I have ALWAYS been a huge eater of pasta, potatoes and rice.  They are my favourite three foods, I kid you not. Ask my husband. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if I could, if he would [hub is NOT so partial to these three items].

Give me gnocchi – combining two of my favourite things – ahhhh I’m in LOVE.  Carbonara – lasagne – spaghetti bolognese; yum!  Potato – baked, scalloped, chipped, boiled, roasted or mashed… YUM.  And rice – well, I love risotto and then after that rice just is a great accompaniment to so many meals… chilli con carne, lima bean soup, curry, steak and eggs, tuna…. yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum.

Now, of course in my new Paleo world, guess which of the three I’m still allowed to have?? NONE. Yes, that’s right, NOT ONE OF THEM.  This would honestly have to be the single reason I may not continue with the Paleo lifestyle after our three month trial 😦

And my favourite meal of all time just happens to be chicken schnitzel with salad and mashed potato.  Which I cannot have anymore – not the schnitzel, not the mashed potato.  And I mean, come on!! I want to be healthy but I still want to LIVE!!

*sigh*

So I thought to myself, “Take up the challenge, Paleo-ise this meal”.  And this is what I came up with:

My replacement for chicken schnitzel with mash potato

My replacement for chicken schnitzel with mashed potato

This would be:

Chicken breast – sliced in half to create a thinner ‘steak’, but you could just bash it a la schnitzel – spray with olive oil, coat with dukkah of your choice [avail in Coles or at gourment stores for those of you lucky enough to live near anything!], bake in the oven at 180 deg for 20-25 mins til cooked through.

Cauliflower mash – steam 1 whole head of cauliflower [break it up into florets, first]. Then in a food processor or with a stick blender, blend the cauliflower with 1 clove crushed garlic [or to taste].  Do it too long and you end up with puree – so keep an eye on it.  You can also add spices of your choice to it if you wish 🙂

Roasted Sweet Potato – roughly chop rosemary, peel and chop sweet potato. Toss in olive oil & rosemary, put in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 180 deg for approx 40 mins. [I do these first, then prep the chicken and chuck it in the oven for the last 20-25 mins of the potatoes].

Voila! 

Ok, so its not exactly my dream meal, but it IS pretty close, and you can always fry the chicken rather than bake, just maybe use almond meal & egg to bind the dukkah more firmly to the chicken if you do that.   Dukkah is a GREAT alternative to breadcrumbs if you can get a good one.

So – challenge raised? You bet.

Met? I tried!

Bested? Hmmm maybe 90% – but I’ll take that!

Ek so, ek so,

Paleo Girl.

Lunch: graze in the fridge for left overs

Really?

We got a sample meal plan during our first week of Paleo, and I kid you not, it actually said “Graze in the fridge for left overs” in several of the ‘Lunch’ boxes.  I was disgusted! How is that good for you, and what if you don’t HAVE any left overs in the fridge??? Then what do you eat for lunch?  PS – I’m not a horse.  I don’t graze.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to follow this, Chris,” was my reaction to that meal plan.

So………….right now I’m kinda eating my words, as I eat my lunch which is – you guessed it – left overs. Last night’s dinner to be exact, BBQ Chicken with salad.  And the truth is, its happened a couple of times already – we make way too much food at night (I have NO sense of portion sizes) and since starting this Paleo thing, not finding myself too hungry (today was an exception) – so what do you get? Left overs.  Better to eat than throw out, right?

I mean, pretty sure I still disagree with the direction in the meal plan – they should have at least provided an alternative for those not portionally challenged like me.  But I’ll admit that eating leftovers isn’t to shabby and nor is it unheard of in our household – just not really ever been the ‘plan’, if you know what I mean.

As the days have passed, we’ve gotten more adapted to this Paleo thing and more often than not lunch (on weekends, in particular) is made up of left overs.  That said, we’re finding we always have so much fresh produce in our fridge (and we have nearly totally eliminated throwing out things that have ‘gone bad’ because we eat them first!) that if we don’t have any left overs, there is always something there we can make.

And I guess that this style of eating is very true to the Paleo theory – I suppose our ancestors more often than not picked at what was left of yesterday’s ‘main’ meal for the day until it was time for today’s ‘main’ meal.

My advice? If you want to follow that meal plan – ensure you cook extra so you do have left overs, and if that sounds too boring, remember you can always jazz up a bunch of left overs with a new ingredient. IE BBQ chicken – shred it then mix with egg and chopped cherry tomatoes for a yummy omelette.  The possibilities are endless – I guess 🙂

Ek so, ek so – Paleo Girl.

The Saving Grace of the Dinner Party: 85:15

** Warning: this is a LONG one J

 

So, once the perils of dining out at a restaurant had been conquered, it was time to take the next step. A leap into an area much more fraught with danger: dining out at a friends place.

 

You see – dining out at a restaurant, the only worry you really have is finding something you can eat. But, given that these places have menus, with a variety of dishes available and usually at least a vegetarian option you can turn to (with a ‘steak on the side, please’) you are generally going to be ok. The worst part will be fighting temptation!  

 

At a friend’s place, not only is there a restricted menu – ie restricted to whatever’s being served – there is also an extra set of complications.  The guests don’t want their hosts to feel they ‘have’ to cook paleo (thank goodness for the 85:15 rule), the hosts feel like they should cook paleo (don’t know about the 85:15 rule) and when it comes time to sit down there’s the thoughts – ‘If there’s something non-paleo, can I refrain from eating it without offending my hosts?’ or ‘Have I accidentally cooked something non-paleo?’.  And god forbid additional, non-paleo or paleo guests are dining too!  Extra NPs will add to the pressure the Paleo’s are feeling whereas additional Paleo’s might make the hosts feel they have no choice but to try to cook a suitable meal, adhering to guidelines they don’t know.

 

Phew. What a drama!  Why would any person willingly submit themselves to so much stress?!

Well – because despite our different choices of diet, we all love our friends and family and sharing a meal is an ancient and wonderful bonding experience.  I can’t think of times that are in my ‘golden memories’ bank that don’t involve a meal shared between family and/or friends. From our wedding with sixty of our nearest and dearest right down to a simple but amazing meal at a friend’s place where the four of us got to know each other a little better.

 

So then – how to combine the two for the recently Paleo? (Read:me)  Dinner with my friends and not compromising my new diet?

I do not want or expect or need my friends to cook Paleo when I visit them.  Their house, their rules, I totally respect that and if they want to cook a pasta or a chicken schnitzel or whatever, I will happily dig in and chalk it up as the 15 of my 85:15.  That said – the majority of dishes I can happily eat anyway with just a simple minus – eg a roast dinner, mostly paleo, may just mean I don’t eat the potato and just have extra pumpkin or carrot.  Or a BBQ – usually all paleo too, just omit anything like the cheese from a salad.  See what I mean?  And I hope that the host isn’t offended by omissions and just gets excited that they get to eat the extras.

 

This theory came into play recently when we were invited for dinner. The first ‘eeek’ moment came up with the question of dessert – another couple was coming along and providing dessert (we did the salad) – I got the question of “what can you guys eat? Do I need to google a Paleo friendly dessert?”  I admit, I felt guilty. I didn’t want my friends to stress about what they were putting on the plate.  So I told her not to worry about us and to make whatever suited her, and if it wasn’t Paleo, we’d just not eat it. (That last bit on the advice of my husband – I should have explained the 85:15 rule instead!)

 

The hosts had already said they would do the meat – so that was fine.  But I was stressed that our friends were feeling extra pressure, or would not make the food they really wanted to, because of my diet choice.  And I think my friend was stressed because she wanted to ensure everyone could happily eat her dessert. Plus she probably looked at the finished result and thought ‘Man I could have made non-Paleo desserts that would kick this sorbet’s ass!’

 

Stressed. Not how I want to go into a dinner with friends!

 

The dinner was an absolute success – there was meat which we all ate; roasted veggies, which we all ate mostly (Husband and I avoided the potatoes); and salad which was Paleo, which we all ate. Even the NP’s.

Dessert – paleo sorbet because of course my amazing friend did not want us to ‘just not eat it’.  Ironically I was too full to really eat dessert but that’s not the point.

 

The point is – if you aren’t Paleo but have friends who are – get them to explain the 85:15 rule to you so you can feel good about having them over and cooking whatever you want without worrying you’re putting them out or that they’ll just sit at the table and politely sip at their drinks while you eat the non-paleo meal.

 

If you are Paleo – explain to your friends the 85:15 rule and that you would much rather utilise it so you can still enjoy these wonderful nights without them having to stress about what should just be a fun experience.

 

And then – when it’s your turn to host – blow them away with an amazingly yummy, totally Paleo entrée, dinner and dessert 🙂

 

Ek so, ek so – Paleo Girl.