You might ask yourself: what is Paleo anyways? Let me start this story from the beginning. Three months ago I was introduced to the Paleo diet. Before this, I had battled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I was a jazz dancer for 18 years and my dance professors made sure I maintained the right weight so that the male co-dancers could lift me up. On top of that, I come from a family of vegetarians who are very strict with what they eat. I had no escape! I was mentally forced to worry always about how I looked and what I ate.
I tried numerous diets and cleanses during my teenage years: the all-fruits-diet, the only-vegetable-diet, the vegetarian diet (for two years believe it or not), the don’t-have-dinner diet, etc; I could go on forever! When I moved to the United States, I was seduced by the numerous dietary programs available. I did Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and finally, I tried the Nutrisystem program. I was starting to feel tired, switching back and forth between different options and not being able to see positive results. To make things worse, I started to get sick often. My allergies became resistant to my regular medicines and my gastritis worsened. My doctor blamed my irregular eating habits and she recommended sticking to a routine.
I knew I wanted to adopt a lifestyle not just a diet. I thought that if I engaged to a program that made sense, made me feel good and healthy and still allowed me to eat my favorite treats I would be happier, thus, I would get the desired results.
When I was introduced to the Paleo diet I was very skeptic. I had read online articles about this program and I thought I could never commit to it. The philosophy behind Paleo is that men and women should eat all the natural intakes our bodies were designed for through thousands of years of evolution: plants and animals. Paleo makes you think about how new technologies and the pop-culture have modified the forms of food available for consumption. Grains, pasteurized dairy and processed food are the result of intense farming that generally includes the use of pesticides, antibiotic or other unnatural components like hormones. Our body wasn’t designed for these foods; therefore, it is logical to think that since our bodies can’t digest them naturally, many diseases can be attributed to them: allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes, gluten intolerance, etc.
I thought I would give it a try for a weekend just to feel how my body reacted and if I would be able to commit to a Cave Men lifestyle. It’s been 3 months now and I’ve lost 18 pounds. The truth is that I feel very energized and healthier than before, both mentally and physically. I get to eat without fearing about the quantity of fat, calories or carbohydrates in my meals. With the OnlyPaleo app I make sure I buy the right kind of food. The most important aspect of this diet is to remember to stay natural and when I say natural I don’t necessarily mean organic, I just mean naturally fed animal meat, naturally grown food, etc. As Paleo people, we like to stay away from grains and their derivates, dairy, processed sugars including those diet substitutes, potatoes, corn, beans (including soy). To us, real food is: lean animal proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts (except for peanuts) & berries.
I am writing this story to persuade you to try Paleo for a weekend. This is how I convinced my husband to adopt Paleo too. I have included three of my favorite recipes that I happened to cook this past weekend. I have included my personal modifications to them. All the ingredients can be found at any grocery store or at your local Trader Joe’s.
Hope you enjoy!!
Breakfast: Blueberry muffins & eggs
For the muffins (makes a 12-cup muffin pan)
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1 ½ cup almond meal/almond flour
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 1/2 cup Raw Honey
- 1/3 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1/3 cup of Coconut Oil, melted
- 1 of teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
For the eggs
- 4 eggs
- 1 spoon of coconut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If you’re good at baking, you’ll know to mix the dry then the wet ingredients then mix together.
- Place ingredients into a muffin pan. I usually fill ¾ of each muffin cup with the mix.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Just keep an eye on it, they will puff up and look adorable.
- While the muffins are in the oven, heat your skillet with the coconut oil (medium-low heat). Fry each egg separately, cooking each side for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- You can garnish your dish with some strawberries and voila.
- Eat them and be happy.
Lunch: Sweet Pecan Chicken and Salad with Baba ghanoush
Ingredients for the Baba ghanoush
- 1 eggplant
- ¼ cup of tahini
- Juice of 1 ½ lemon
- 1 tsp each of salt and pepper
- ¼ o cup of olive oil
- Prick the eggplant on all sides with a fork and place on a baking sheet.
- Roast eggplant in 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
- Place eggplant in large bowl of cold water for approximately 5 minutes.
- Peel skin from eggplant and discard. Chop eggplant into large chunks and place them in a high speed blender along with tahini, lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Blend until smooth
Ingredients for the Chicken
- ¼ cup of spicy mustard
- ½ cup of raw sage honey
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (antibiotic free chicken)
- Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
- Whisk honey and mustard together.
- Toss the pecans in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.
- Taking one chicken at a time, roll the chicken in the honey-mustard mixture.
- Transfer the coated chicken into the chopped pecans and cover both sides.
- Place crusted chicken into a greased baking dish (you can use melted coconut oil to grease it). Sprinkle chicken with a little sea salt and bake for 45 minutes.
Ingredients for the Salad
- Mixed Greens (or any kind of lettuce you want to use)
- ½ cup of cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup of walnuts
- ½ cup of raisins or cherries (your choice)
- 2 tbsp of raw honey
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar (try to use one that is sweet)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all the ingredients
- Wisk the honey and balsamic vinegar together and purr the mix over the salad.
Dinner: Butter-Chive Steak and Colorful cauliflower salad
Ingredients for the Steak
- 1 pound of desired beef steak
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of dried thyme
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp unsalted pasture butter, room temperature (you can melt in the microwave for 15 secs)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp chopped chives
- 1 bag of asparagus
- Preheat grill to high heat.
- Marinate the steak with salt, pepper, olive oil and thyme.
- Grill for 5 minutes per side depending on how you like your steak to be cooked.
- Add the asparagus to the grill.
- While the steak is in the grill, whisk butter, ¼ tsp of salt and chives with a fork.
- Serve the steak and asparagus and top the steak with the chive butter mix.
Ingredients for the Salad
- ½ head cauliflower
- ½ red bell pepper
- ½ yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup carrot
- 1 cup cucumber
- 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
- 2 green onions
- 2 tbsp of parsley
- 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grate cauliflower. Place in a bowl and microwave for 45 seconds on high.
- Rinse all vegetables and cut into ½ inch chunks.
- Add chopped vegetables to grated cauliflower.
- Add in parsley and stir.
- Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil and the juice of 1 lime. Add salt and pepper.
Dessert: Almond Butter Coconut Ice cream with bananas
- 1 can of coconut milk (16 oz)
- ¾ cup of pure maple syrup
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- ½ cup of almond butter
- 1 banana
- Combine all ingredients, except almond butter, in a sauce pan.
- Bring to a low boil while whisking.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Strain mixture into a medium-sized mixing bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
- Chill mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Place mixture in an ice cream maker, and run until desired consistency is reached.
- When ice cream is almost finished, add almond butter to ice cream maker and continue to process.
- Serve with sliced banana and almonds (optional).