Let’s dig a little deeper into the Paleo Diet!
I, myself, recently finished a Whole 30 to see what the buzz was all about. When I started and read the testimonials, I was impressed. People were having all sorts of beneficial outcomes from changing to a paleo diet – losing tons of weight, having clearer skin, better hair and nails, massive changes in chronic conditions, more restful sleep, and just generally feeling better about themselves and their food.
Initially, I was convinced that cutting out dairy, legumes, alcohol, grains and sugar all at once was far too drastic, and was unsustainable. I’m all about sustainability in developing dietary habits, and this much of a shake-up seemed like a fad diet. I also thought it would be really, really hard to do.
In truth, a month and a half without bread and cheese didn’t kill me. It wasn’t even as tough as I had imagined. With guidelines as clear as the Whole 30 has, you learn quickly what you can and cannot eat, and you adapt. You also learn to read labels thoroughly, as sugar is hiding in EVERYTHING!
I didn’t reap many of the touted rewards of the program. In fact – my sleep got much worse, and my digestive processes were, let’s say, stalled. What happened was that I learned to far more creative and experimental with my food.
Each meal plan was a series of questions – What was my protein? What sort of spice did I want to add to it? What veggies would fit with that, and where could I add some healthy fats? How could I make the vegetables more interesting? My food processor definitely got a work-out for the duration, as I figured out ways to make veggies into noodles, rice and bases for my dishes.
Also, since white potatoes and sweet potatoes are allowed in the Whole 30, I developed a deep and abiding love for the humble spud.
All in all, if you feel like you’re in a food rut, paleo is a good way to turn. Now that the Whole 30 has passed for me, we still eat 3-4 paleo meals a week in my house. It helps to keep things interesting in our weekly planning, and ensures that we’re eating whole foods most of the time.
My favourite meal from the time I spent paleo was, by far, salmon on greens with potato wedges. Here’s how you can enjoy it too!
Ingredients: 1-2 salmon fillets, lemon juice, spinach, 1-2 medium white potatoes, EVOO, coarse salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400ish degrees. Chop potatoes into wedges and place on lightly greased baking sheet, top with salt and pepper (I add curry too sometimes), and a drizzle of oil on top. Bake for 10-15 minutes, then flip. Place salmon in greased baking dish, with a little cracked pepper (or dijon mustard), cover with foil (shiny side in) and bake (along with the wedges) for another 15-20 minutes (if frozen, you can put them in at same time). While the wedges and salmon are baking, add a bed of spinach to a plate. Once the wedges are browned and slightly crispy on the outside and the salmon is flaky (not slimy), remove from the heat and place the fish on the bed of greens. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and dig in!
And what is Commander Will Wrecker’s favourite paleo recipe?
“My favourite paleo meal is Shepherd’s Pie. I love meat and I love sweet potato and this is a beautiful union of the two. It’s the perfect meal for after a workout, and it also feels like comfort food too!”
Ingredients: 4-5 lg. sweet potatoes, 1.5 onions, 1lb lean ground meat, 3-4 stalks celery, 3 carrots, 5 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp butter, rosemary, thyme, salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil chopped sweet potatoes until soft. Brown meat and onions in a skillet with some olive oil. Add celery, carrots and garlic to the skillet. Add spices to taste, then cook on low to medium heat for 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes, add 1 tbsp of butter, dash pepper and mash until smooth. Spread the meat mixture in a casserole dish, top with sweet potatoes and bake until slightly browned. Enjoy the noms!