Paleo

40 Days of Paleo: What I’ve Eaten So Far

Although I’m only two days into my 40 Days of Paleo experiment, the truth is that I actually started a couple of weeks ago. When the idea for the experiment popped into my head, I also thought, why wait until Lent? Why not start now? And so I went through the process of ridding my apartment of (read: eating) all non-paleo things I had stockpiled and started in on making recipes that followed the guidelines. I didn’t have much to go through – some green chili with black beans in my freezer, a few slices of bread, a quarter of a block of cheddar, two Kind bars. Just odds and ends that I didn’t want tempting me. I still have some oatmeal and quinoa in my cupboards, but I’ve never felt the need to dive head first into a bowl of either so I’m not terribly concerned about them. Oh, and I have copious amounts of liquor from parties past, but I so rarely drink in my apartment.

One of the main objectives of this experiment is to get myself to include more vegetables into my regular meals. I cook often and regularly bring my lunch to work, so I’m not totally starting from scratch and overhauling my eating routine. I’m just making tweaks that I know are easy, but that I fail to make in the name of laziness. I’m fairly lucky in that I already quite like vegetables – I just tend to forget about them when it comes time to fill up my grocery cart.

So, here’s what I’ve been doing so far:

I’ve already posted a couple of recipes that were easily paleo.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Pork Marinara (no cheese, of course):
Spaghetti Squash

Roasted Sweet Potato Breakfast (for Dinner) Hash:
Sweet Potato Hash

I’ve also discovered that I like lacinto kale (aka Tuscan kale, aka dinosaur kale, aka not curly kale) and I sauteed some up with cremini mushrooms, onion, and garlic and topped them with a couple of fried eggs:
Kale Mushroom Hash

I’ve even tried my hand at a few paleo specific recipes. I, admittedly, need something a little bready in the mornings, so right away I tried PaleOMG’s espresso banana bread muffins:
Espresso Banana Bread

I made it into a loaf and omitted the chocolate because I’m not a fan of chocolate in the morning. Yeah, you read that right. Aside from wishing it had a little salt in the mix, it was fairly good and I would definitely make it again.

I know resisting pancakes after my Sunday morning group runs will be difficult, so I tried out this paleo version in the hopes that I won’t feel so deprived:
Paleo Pancakes

They were pretty good! And very filling. I topped them with a few walnuts and some warmed maple syrup. I think they’ll fulfill my pancake needs nicely.

And because I’m concerned about my overall desire for bread, I made this paleo version using almond meal:
Paleo Bread

It was…well, it needed salt, that’s for sure. I wasn’t entirely enamored of it at first, but warmed up with a little spread of butter and a sprinkling of salt, it wasn’t a bad thing to have with my evening tea. It’s not a substitute for bread, but it serves as a decent post-dinner snack.

I’ve been scouring paleo-focused websites and stockpiling recipes in preparation for this challenge and I’m a bit excited to get to try out a new way of cooking. I do plan to concentrate my efforts on incorporating plant life into my meals, as opposed to devising paleo ways of eating my previous vices, but for those areas where I know I’ll have trouble, this should help ease the transition. Ultimately, I don’t believe one’s diet should be about what you can’t have, but what you love. Figure out what makes you feel good and find ways to eat that as much as you can.

40 Days of Paleo

Several years ago I had the inspired idea to go vegetarian for Lent. Okay, technically it was pescatarian, because, like any good Catholic, I still had to have my fish on Fridays. No matter – the purpose was to see if I, a bacon-loving, sausage-pizza-craving, general fan-of-meat, could go without it. It turns out that it wasn’t that hard. For all I was concerned about the temptations of meaty pizza, you know what I wanted most? A simple turkey sandwich. What I wouldn’t have given for some deli turkey, with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mustard between two slices of bread. It turns out I don’t need meat that much after all.

So why am I considering Paleo now? Well, I have been having, let’s say, some issues figuring out the amount I need to eat. I know I gained a few pounds while training for my half marathon and although it probably wasn’t noticeable to anyone but me, it’s not a positive trend. As I’ve continued running and working out at a higher level than I have in the past, I’ve had more and more days where I feel like I just can’t get full. The way I’ve been eating isn’t working and it’s time to try something new.

Now, I don’t particularly put stock in one diet over another. I firmly believe that the best diet is the one that works for you, but Steve Kamb’s take on Paleo has always sounded exceptionally reasonable to me. More fruits and veggies, little to no dairy and starches, some quality meats? I can’t lie, regardless of whether or not our paleolithic ancestors ate that way, that makes a whole lot of sense. Scarfing down a block of cheddar because my entire day’s worth of meals didn’t satiate me does not.

Consider this an experiment, the point of which is to revamp my diet to squeeze in as many fruit and vegetables as possible. (It is not a license to Eat All the Bacon.) I expect there to be a learning curve, as I give up certain things that I love. Here’s what I anticipate missing most:

  • Cheese. Peace be with you, Smoked Gouda.
  • Peanut butter. But I get almond butter and cashew butter and, ooh, I think I’ll try my hand at making pecan and walnut butters! Maybe I won’t miss peanut butter at all.
  • Black beans. With scrambled eggs and corn tortillas, they’re my go-to for a quick dinner. I am half-Mexican after all.
  • Kind bars. They all have rice. Not Paleo.
  • Bread. Obviously. I will likely be ready to offer sexual favors in return for a good sourdough or pretzel roll by the end of this. Don’t get any ideas.

But, I don’t expect myself to be perfect either and will allow myself some exceptions. Here are the rules by which I will govern this experiment:

  • By nature of my new business, I’m going to have to taste the occasional baked good. But I will only eat them if I absolutely must taste them. This is my stance in general, so it’s not much of a deviation from how I would normally conduct myself around leftover product.
  • I also run a baking meetup group. Our monthly meetups will not be Paleo days.
  • If I go to a restaurant, I’ll do my best to choose something within the Paleo guidelines, but I’m not going to ask the server to list all of the ingredients and then balk when the chicken’s been dredged in flour.
  • If I’m at a friend’s place and spontaneously they cook for me, I’m going to eat what they offer.
  • I’m keeping butter and white potatoes. Both are on the Paleo fence. Coconut oil weirds me out, so for the small amount of Paleo baking I plan on doing, I’m just going to use butter. Potatoes are generally shunned because they’re not as high in nutrients as other vegetables, but they’re really perfectly fine as long as they’re not deep fried or covered in heaps of sour cream.
  • Alcohol. I don’t drink much to begin with and the only reason I’m keeping it is because Rick is visiting in a couple of days and I do plan on having several adult beverages with him. Life’s not worth living if you can’t enjoy a drink with your best bud whom you haven’t seen in three years.
  • Generally I visit my parents a few days before Easter. When I do go there, that’s when this experiment ends. I am going to eat the hell out of my mom’s homemade flour tortillas.

So that’s it. The goal of this experiment isn’t necessarily to lose weight, although I’m curious to see where my body fat ends up at the end of this, and it isn’t to eliminate any food allergies that I’m aware of. I want to see if it changes how I feel. I want to know if I can be full and satisfied without tipping the scales in the wrong direction. I want to experience foods that I might otherwise forgo because making a grilled cheese on a random weeknight is seemingly easier. Will I feel good? Will I feel strong? Will I feel happy? Who knows…maybe I don’t need bread as much as I thought. We shall see.