Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Paleo Diet - Basic In's and Out's

With summer coming around, I will surely be posting a bunch of food for BBQs, Picnics, etc.  This means that you'll get a healthy dose of Paleo-this, Paleo-that.  You've probably heard about it, but let me go over some basics.  Anyone can eat this way - which is the best thing!

What is the Paleo diet?
The paleo diet is based on the foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had access to - but of course with our modern day culinary genius (I'm talking about flavor combinations and stuff).  The paleo diet has a few key points that it follows: higher protein intake (19-35%), lower carbohydrate and lower glycemic levels, higher fiber intake, moderate to higher fat intake (mono, poly, om-3, and om-6), higher potassium and lower sodium, alkaline foods to balance acidic foods, and higher intake of vitamins/minerals/phytochemicals/antioxidants.

Geez.  That's technical sounding, huh?

Dr.Loren Cordain created the Paleo Diet.  If I'm ever in doubt, I check his book or his website (HERE).

What can you eat and what is on the NO list?
Before I get to the lists, I want to mention that label reading is a must for paleo-people.  Companies like to sneak in stuff like tapioca or rice syrup, etc.  While I love having a larabar every so often, it isn't entirely paleo - thanks rice syrup for ruining it for me.

Foods we can eat:

  • Meats (grass-fed preferably)
  • Seafood/Fish
  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Healthy Oils (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nut oils)
  • Insects (cricket flour, roasted bugs, etc)
Foods we do not eat:
  • Starchy Vegetables (potato, sweet potato, cassava, peas, etc)
  • Legumes (all beans, soy, peanuts, etc)
  • Cereal Grains (wheat, quinoa, teff, oats, corn, rice, etc)
  • Dairy
  • Refined Sugar
  • Potato (of any kind!)
  • Processed Food
  • Salt
  • Refined Oils (canola, corn, generic vegetable oil, etc)
  • Hidden Items (cornstarch, energy drinks, soda, most juice, etc)
Foods on the cusp:
  • Yogurt - I generally will have the occasional yogurt simply for the good bacteria in it.  I could buy expensive supplements that would do the same thing, but for me a plain or vanilla greek yogurt once a week is good.
  • Sweeteners - You want to keep your glycemic index low.  Here are a few sweeteners to try with their index number: coconut sugar (35), agave nectar (15), stevia (0), and honey (50).  Honey is on the high end of low, but it has sought after properties like allergy control.
  • Some dairy - Sometimes people like to use very minimal dairy.  This would be butter (real stuff) or cheese (usually).  I'll admit to always having Parmesan on hand and usually some kind of shredded cheese.  I rarely buy butter or any other dairy products (aside from the occasional yogurt) unless it's for a special occasion.
  • Root Tubers - These veggies are particularly starchy.  Once I began the paleo diet, my body changed.  I can no longer eat sweet potato or carrots, they don't digest.  I can have a little taro every so often.  Pick and choose your root tubers carefully, and limit your intake to 1-3 times a month at the most.  Some are totally okay like turnips and rutabagas.
  • Whey Protein - To be strictly paleo, whey protein is not allowed.  It is, however, easy to find and affordable compared to egg protein powder or hemp protein or isolated beef protein.  Don't rely on this as your main protein source.  Your protein should of had, at one point, a face and a mother (as they say at my crossfit gym).
Food claimed to be Paleo, but it's not:
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tapioca Flour
  • Rice
What are some replacements for cooking?
  • Instead of cornstarch, use arrowroot powder.
  • Instead of grain-based flour, use coconut flour or nut meal/nut flour (almond is good).  Tapioca flour is highly starchy and should be avoided.
  • Instead of sugar, try a low glycemic sweetener like agave nectar, coconut sugar, or stevia (you can even grow it!)
  • Instead of potato, use cauliflower or turnip.
  • Instead of peanut butter, try cashew or almond butter.
  • Instead of chocolate -- ha ha, just kidding.  You can have chocolate, just keep away from white chocolate.

If you have any questions about paleo stuff, feel free to ask me.  I've been eating this way for almost ten years now (sheesh!  Makes me feel old) and I have quite a bit of experience.  I'll have to post one of my favorite breakfasts on here soon.

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