Archive for August, 2011

Middle East inspired Paleo lunch plate!

August 30, 2011

Middle Eastern food is lip-smackingly hands-down probably my favourite type of cuisine, and yes, I am aware that “Middle Eastern” is a blanket term with a lot of variation in between. If I had to be more specific, then Lebanese would be what I am most familiar with and love, love, love. It’s just so simple and infused with quality, fresh produce. OK, so maybe not so much in the case of kebab proprieters but you get my drift! Middle Eastern food is really quite compatible with the Paleo way of eating which makes me a very happy bunny.

I’m usually very uninspired when putting lunch together – it’s usually leftovers or just a mishmash plate of bits and pieces. Today wasn’t really much different from the latter, however this lunch plate had a distinct Middle Eastern and also Mediterranean influence. I’d picked up some fresh tabouli (up there with the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve eaten a LOT of tabouli) and babaganoush which is probably my favourite condiment. Since hummus is out on Paleo, on account of the chickpeas, babaganoush is a great, and probably superior, substitute. I’ve tried to make babaganoush myself, but am happy leave it to the experts! I picked up the tabouli and babaganoush from a Lebanese take away place called Grandpa’s in Hurstville and they even made me a fresh batch of tabouli without the wheat…WIN!

This plate was a cinch to put together as there was barely any prep apart from soft-boiling an egg:

Middle Eastern paleo lunch plate

Middle Eastern paleo lunch plate

The plate was made up of:

  • Smoked sardines
  • Sicilian olives (look at that gorgeous green hue)
  • Semi dried tomatoes
  • Babaganoush
  • Tabouli
  • Soft boiled egg (which it seems I butchered when I was peeling the shell off)

This type of cobbled together lunch would be ideal for a picnic or even taking in to the office when you need to pull together things quickly from the fridge. Bon appetit!

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Paleo suppliers – Sydney and beyond

August 24, 2011

I often get asked where I get my Paleo supplies from. I’m Sydney based and have a few favourite haunts from which to get my bits and bobs. It would be great if I could regularly afford to shop somewhere like Thomas Dux, but that isn’t about to happen soon, so the places I go offer good bang for my buck, along with some intriguing people-watching as in the case of hippy hangout The Suveran in Bondi Junction – aka the crazy in the coconuts place.

I’ll be updating this list as I discover new gems but these are my preferred suppliers so far. Aside from this list, Asian supermarkets, quality butchers, seafood markets and growers markets are also great places to source Paleo goodies from too!

The Suveran
244 Oxford St Bondi Junction NSW
Phone: 02 9369 4040
Website: thesuv.org

I absolutely love this place. It’s so unique that going there feels like an adventure and I always wonder as I’m heading towards it “what tidbits of oddball information am I going to pick up today?”

They have two stores – one stocks organic produce and lots and lots of staple products such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut flour, nuts, dried fruits – and the other is more of a cafe-style hangout with a stash of supplements and raw chocolate to die for (though watch out for the carob lurking in the fridge right next to the chocolate, doh!) This is also where I get to indulge in coconut water and flesh from A REAL LIVE COCONUT!

I usually order a delicious lunch of slow cooked lamb shank with veggies and salad. And I never forget to grab the free coconut that you get with purchases of $10 or more. Get the gang to cut it open with a machete, grab a straw and slurp your way to heaven. When you’re done with the juice, get them to crack it again, in half this time, to scoop out the flesh.  I always laugh when I read the items on the menu, their wacky sense of humour is in evidence with dishes such as “lamb crap” – that would be a crepe.

The Suveran

The Suveran - delicious hippy food served with a side of coconut

The Suveran is very Paleo friendly and works well for people on other types of diets as it’s all gluten, dairy and sugar free. Everything tastes phenomenal – except the carob that is 🙂 They have a wide selection of health books – you can read their copies for free and then buy a new copy if you wish to. They’re a non-profit so the prices are very reasonable indeed and I really like their ethics. I’m planning to go to their cooking class on September 3rd so I can pick up some tips to improve my cooking, and nab their treasured chocolate recipe.

Dr Earth Healthfoods
311 King St Newtown NSW 02 9519 3495 and
444 Oxford St, Bondi Junction NSW 02 9389 2160

I could easily drop $100 in here no problems. Though I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore, I rely on this place for a few of my favourite food and beauty items – coconut flakes are only for $6 for 500grams, organic hair care products, cheap goats milk soap and natural scented soaps (only $5 for 3 cakes). I really like the staff in the Newtown store, led by the wonderful Adam – they navigate their way around the over-stocked store like acrobats and always have a smile. I’m relaxing my strict Paleo-adherance at the moment to include things such as fermented soy and buckwheat, so this is where I get miso paste, tamari and 100% buckwheat noodles and bread. I make a mean miso soup with the paste, noodles, seaweed and Dulse flakes.

Sign up as a member to get 21% off on selected days each month (this is on most products except perishables and practitioner products).

Wholesome Natural Health Market
181 Broadway BROADWAY NSW

02 9211 1171

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

This store is quite similar in range to Dr Earth and they also have the same discount structure and the same discount days – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? A great range of fresh and packaged products and really knowledgeable staff make this store a real treasure.

Wholesome Natural Health Market

Wholesome Natural Health Market

iHerb
iherb.com

My addiction to US online store iHerb is so bad that I’ve got VIP status. Ouch! I don’t buy supplements in Australia anymore because the US has much better range and incredibly cheap prices. I’m sorry Australian retailers, but I need to save money somewhere and this is how I do it. I order all sorts of goodies from iHerb including rose hip oil – only $5 instead of the $20+ you pay in Australia – lots of supplements, coconut flakes and coconut butter – which is soooooo tasty, cacao powder, stevia drops, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant. You get the drift, it’s awesome. At the moment, orders are taking about 3 weeks to arrive after ordering, but the discounts make it worth it. My hot tip is to keep your order under $US80 and under 4 pounds in weight (the checkout calculates this for you) so you get airmail shipping for only$6. I usually make sure my order is as close to $80 as possible to get the best value I can from each order.

If you want to try out iHerb, feel free to use my discount code for $5 off first time orders: ISO110

Be really careful not to order anything that’s illegal to import in to Australia… I did this once and got a slap on the wrist from quarantine…oops! But I was trying to buy something that was $7 compared to $70 in Australia and didn’t realise at the time I couldn’t import it. Here’s the ICON database to check on the legalities of importing things in to Australia and iHerb also has a handly list that appears on the shopping cart page to advise what items are often confiscated by customs. Do be careful, especially if you try to buy some expensive supplements like I did….turns out customs don’t like mushrooms…who knew?

The big supermarkets

For those on a budget, the main supermarkets are an important place to stock up on fresh produce, meat, oils etc. Here’s what I tend to get from each place.

Coles: macadamia nut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, turkey mince, lamb mince, dukkah (spice mix), spices, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, coconut milk, coconut water – this is going to be a summer treat since it’s in a popper box you can freeze 🙂

Woolworths: Select tinned wild Alaskan salmon

Aldi: free range eggs, smoked sardines, bulk avocadoes, bulk zucchini, Italian proscuitto, macadamias

The Nut Roaster Company
79-81 Chapel St, ROSELANDS, NSW
02 9759 1206

Nut roasters are where I stock up on nuts and almond flour for those all important biscuits and muffins!  I also get my anchovies in bulk (in olive oil) and olives, though the last time they were way too salty, even for me.

Nuts

Obviously, I like nuts.

7 Star Supermarket
408 King Street, Newtown
Tel: 02 9565 5521
http://www.7starsupermarket.com.au/

I pick up Spring Hill free range bacon and their AMAZING aged beef mince from this store. This is the best beef mince you will ever taste, I’m not kidding.  They also stock all sorts of organic, gourmet products and really cool smoked fish.

Harris Farm Markets
Locations around Sydney

Great range of dried fruits, fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of unique products such as duck meat and duck fat, free range pork and sustainable tinned fish. And I love to pick up Ginger Nectar which is an incredibly potent ginger juice with honey. I really like my ginger, what can I say?

Flemington Markets

Submitted by Gazza, this has become a real Sydney institution for fresh produce and flowers. According to Gazza:

(Sat morning – get there early!) is a source of freshly grated coconut (done at the markets) and fresh (frozen) coconut milk. You can get kim chee too (Korean fermented veges, good source of probiotics).

I need to get there stat, just to try the grated coconut!

Alfalfa House
http://www.alfalfahouse.org/

Don’t be put off by the vegan-sounding name – Paleo peeps can get a lot of their staples from Alfalfa House whilst purchasing goods in a considerate manner. Alfalfa House is an ethical, not-for-profit (just like The Suveran) co-operative that shuns packaging for most goods. Perusing their website, the items available that are most relevant to Paleo would be fresh produce, spices, eggs and wide range of oils.

Meat, poultry and game suppliers

I’ve collated this list from around the traps but so far haven’t bought anything from them as I’m currently restricted by a limited budget.

Urban Food Market: really keen to try out the diced goat and some of the free range pork

Otway Pork: I’m going to be trying a pork belly from this supplier soon. After my first attempt at pork belly was an absolute disaster that almost sent me vegetarian, I’ve done my homework to find a quality product

Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats:  Submitted by Gazza (thanks!) – he sources 100% grass fed platinum beef from this store  with outlets all over the city, except the deep south for some reason

Stapleton’s Quality Meats: Just had to add a butcher located in southern Sydney (Sutherland and Gymea) to make up for Craig Cook’s being everywhere except the south!  I haven’t shopped here yet, but they seem to have a wide range of meats including venison, which I last ate in a French restaurant about 10 years ago – it’s been too long! They also have an online shopping and a delivery service.

Spring Hill Beef (and bacon): As mentioned above, the mince is the best I have ever tasted, and I’m really happy with their bacon product too.

If you have any great Sydney-based or online suppliers, let me know so I can add it to this list!

My Paleo shopping list

August 23, 2011

One of the important logistical tasks when starting Paleo (especially if you have decided to jump right in rather than start slowly) is to compile a list of items to pick up from the supermarket/health food store/food market. I thought I’d supply mine for anyone interested to find out what I consider my staples that make life that much simpler!

Oils ain’t oils

Fat is controversial, no doubt about it. What is “controversial” about Paleo is that the demonised saturated fats such as coconut oil and bacon fat are approved, whereas vegetable and seed oils, such as sunflower and soy, are out.

My list of oils:

  • Avocado oil (this is a fruit remember) – works well as a salad dressing or to roast veggies
  • Olive oil (as above, this is a fruit) – I use this occasionally for cooking and on salads
  • Coconut oil and butter – I use the oil to cook my eggs each morning and to spread on buckwheat bread
  • Bacon fat – I cook free range rashers of bacon on a wire rack and then collect the fat on a tray to use on vegetables at dinner…mmm!
  • Macadamia – this is excellent as a salad dressing and also can be used in baking. Incredible flavour.
  • Almond oil – this is also good in baking

Fruit and Veg

Ok, so fruit is an iffy area as excess fructose is considered damaging to the metabolic system and a cause of inflammation and fatty liver disease. At the moment, I’m not eating much fruit at all because I’m trying to fix my hypoglycemia for good (blood sugar swings resulting in low blood sugar) and my gut health, but the types of fruit I generally think are good in terms of bang for your buck nutritionally speaking are:

  • Bananas – it’s a shame they’re still priced like gold bars but these are a veritable powerhouse fruit and great in baking
  • Red or ruby grapefruit – studies link grapefruit to weight loss and good skin. This is much more palatable than the traditional yellow grapefruit
  • Kiwi fruit – packed with awesome enzymes and Vit C, love these furry critters
  • Berries – low fructose and high in Vit C
  • Papaya or pawpaw – full of good enzymes
  • Lychee – I love these for their silky texture and unmistakeable taste. They work a treat in cocktails too!
  • Pink lady apple – these also have a beautiful, subtle flavour and apples are considered a great broom for the intestines
  • The very occasional medjool date. God these are incredible.

Vegetables can also be high in fructose unfortunately, such as carrots and beetroots, but if you have no metabolic issues, munch away!  Gillian McKeith, that hardcore tele-nutritionist from the UK, has been absolutely slated by some of the UK press (it’s happened to the best of us ;p) over her credentials, but I always remember her saying that everyone should make an effort to eat a rainbow and I can’t agree more. The colours of the vegetables represent different beneficial compounds of the vegetable (for example orange veggies have caretenoids) so it’s important to get a good mix as much as possible. Here are some ideas and if you want to see how creative you can be with veggies, check out my fave Paleo site Nom Nom Paleo…the woman is amazing!

  • White: Onion, garlic, parsnip, leek, taro, cauliflower, artichoke
  • Green: bok choy, baby spinach, English spinach (delicious sauteed with onion and cinnamon), broccoli, brussel spouts (great with bacon or tossed with avocado oil and roasted), zucchini (very versatile, for chips or “pasta”), other green leaf vegetables, sugar snap and snow peas, green beans, asparagus, cucumber
  • Red: capsicum (delicious roasted or fried in a pan), tomato (ok this is technically a fruit!)
  • Yellow: squash, yellow zucchini
  • Orange: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots
  • Purple: cabbage, eggplant, spanish onion, beetroot, some sweet potato varieties

Baking supplies

People tend to panic when told they can’t eat grains, especially when they think of the baked goods they’re so enamoured of.  However, you CAN bake plenty of amazing, healthy treats within Paleo as long as you’re careful with your sweetener. Here is what I bake with:

  • Free range eggs
  • Oils – coconut, macadamia
  • Almond flour/meal (must be the type with the skin removed first)
  • Coconut flour
  • Coconut milk
  • Rice syrup (probably the best low GI option)
  • Maple syrup, occasionally and only a small amount
  • Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ground ginger
  • Fine celtic sea salt
  • Berries
  • Dried fruits (though I’m not eating them much at the moment)
  • Nuts – my favourites are pecan, macadamia, hazelnut and walnut
  • Sesame and chia seeds – I use these when I make savoury biscuits or coconut bread
  • Bi-carb/Baking soda
  • Arrowroot (for thickening)
Baking supplies

Baking supplies

Herbs, spices and flavourings

Spices are definitely one of the important elements of a creative Paleo menu and really make dishes that much more zesty without a lot of effort. Along with this list, there’s also mixes such as harissa (which I want to try) and of course, Indian spice mixes.

  • Dukkah (amazing Middle Eastern nut/spice mix that’s fantastic with chicken as a baste)
  • Cinnamon and cloves
  • Five spice
  • Star anise
  • Mustard powder
  • Fine celtic sea salt
  • Chilli flakes
  • Tomato paste, tinned tomatoes
  • Whole black pepper
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Thai curry pastes (yes, you can track some down with no nasty additives)
  • Sesame seeds (great for rolling chicken pieces in before frying, so simple!)
  • Fish sauce (mixed with garlic and ginger for an amazing and easy steak marinade)
  • Fresh garlic (do not buy the Chinese stuff please, get the good purple variety)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Onion
  • Thai basil
  • Italian basil
  • Rosemary
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Curry leaves
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh chilli
  • Lemons and limes

Seafood

Where possible, it’s a good idea to source wild caught, sustainably produced fish. Farmed fish is generally a big no-no, on account of the fish being fed a distinctly non-fish diet of grain. Ridiculous right –  ever seen a fish out in the wheat fields snacking on some bushels?

Here are the types of fish I tend to buy:

  • Tinned mackerel fillets
  • Tinned sardines in olive oil or brine (avoid the ones with flavours or vegetable oils)
  • Anchovies (I’ve started buying these in big glass jars when I get my deli goods – not many brands use olive oil though which is what you need)
  • Tinned Alaskan salmon (fresh salmon in Australia is farmed Atlantic salmon
  • Smoked salmon (though truthfully, I think this is farmed which sucks, I would love to live closer to stocks of wild salmon)
  • Blue grenadier or gemfish (beautiful sweet, white fish varieties)
  • Fresh Prawns
  • Tasmanian scallops
  • Tinned tuna (I only eat this once a fortnight or less due to the mercury content of large fish)

Other great seafood options are lobster, calamari, oysters, octopus, crab and sashimi grade fish. I really want to learn how to cook seafood properly, this is a definite area of weakness for me.

Glorious seafood

Glorious seafood

Meat and Poultry

Good animal protein is a must in my humble opinion. I find my energy levels are much better if I get two serves of animal protein in per day. Not to mention helping me to get those all important amino acids which are crucial for building things such as neurotransmitters. Here’s what I tend to eat:

  • Grass fed beef (it can be difficult to get meat that is both grass fed and finished, most is finished on grain)
  • Free range chicken – mince, breasts with bone in (great for baking), breasts without bone or skin, free range BBQ chicken, Portugese chicken (mmm!)
  • Goat – great for curries and a non-pasta ragu
  • Free range pork products (good cuts are middle bacon, pork belly, pork shoulder with bone in
  • Free range turkey – turkey mince for example makes for great burger patties
  • Lamb – lamb shanks are pretty damn good slow cooked. Of course there’s also sweet lamb chops, rack of lamb and lamb mince for burger patties
  • Bones, for making stock and to make some yummy drinking broth. Beef bones, chicken and pork bones are the ones most commonly used

Snacks

This is another area to concentrate on when getting prepared to switch to Paleo because it’s easy to come undone when there’s no longer a chocolate bar around!

  • Nuts – pecans, macadamias, walnuts, brazils, hazelnuts
  • Fruit – as above, though I tend to stick to low fructose options like berries
  • Coconut butter (this is different to the oil)
  • Coconut chips (warning, these can be addictive)
  • Coconut milk
  • A glass of coconut milk sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Zucchini and root vegetable chips
  • Almond, macadamia and hazelnut butter

Condiments and Miscellaneous

  • Baba ganoush
  • Olives – having a total love affair with olives at the moment. I particularly like to OD on Sicilian olives, I like their distinct apple green hue.
  • Olive tapenade – did I mention I like olives?
  • Almond, macadamia and hazelnut butter as above

Beverages

I’m hardcore, I like herbal tea. Here’s what I find myself sipping day to day:

  • Tulsi Rose tea
  • Yogi tea range – loving Aztec sweet chilli and Hazelnut vanilla
  • Campos coffee – mostly swiss water decaf but I also mix in some organic too. I’ve found that I get a really good quality brew using a simple stainless steel stovetop cafetiere (please please please never use aluminium ones if you want to keep your marbles!) Coffee is most likely not Paleo at all, I’m a deviant at times, what can I say ;p
  • Fresh coconut water. I’m lucky enough to get this occasionally from The Suveran in Bondi Junction. Get a free coconut when you spend more than a tenner. Yum! Though you do get funny looks if you take it away and walk down the street sucking on a big coconut. I have now seen coconut water with no crap added in the aisles of Coles. I froze one and snacked on it just like in the olden days with fruit poppers. Ah, those weren’t the days.
  • Mineral water with fresh lime. No idea why, but I love limes. A lot.
  • Liquor – yes, Paleo is not all boring. Of course, alcohol is strictly not Paleo at all, but like I’ve mentioned before, it’s not much fun to stick to a dogma all the time. My drink of choice is Bombay gin with soda water and fresh lime (maybe a couple of drops of stevia if I’m feeling wild). I know others who make cocktails out of coconut milk and vodka, which I’ll get around to one of these days.
Tasty tasty bevvies

Tasty tasty bevvies

Lazy Meals: Smoked salmon and sauteed veggies with basil pesto and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus

August 21, 2011

OK, so the title of this post is quite a mouthful…as is the meal itself!

I hope that people following the blog are getting the idea that Paleo food is both creative and relatively easy. Really, it is 🙂 Except maybe for pork belly, but let’s not go there.

I got the idea for the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus spears from Paleo Australia and simply paired these with smoked salmon, sauteed veggies and my homemade basil pesto.  The meal was a winner and can be made from prep to serving in 45 minutes, less if you’re a whiz with a kitchen knife!

In terms of prep, this was very simple: chop and sautee veggies with plenty of garlic – even if you plan on smooching someone, don’t skimp on the garlic! – grill the asparagus spears – I love the flavour a cast iron skillet imparts – then wrap in proscuitto and serve with the smoked salmon and basil pesto. Ta-da!

Smoked salmon and veggies with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus

Smoked salmon and veggies with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus

So, you’re thinking of trying Paleo? How to dive right in and keep swimming.

August 11, 2011

That’s great news! Well, there is definitely a lot to learn, but here are my top tips for making the successful transition and maintaining it. I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy to cover all the bases for a successful transition, especially considering how much misinformation is out there in regards to health and diet. It’s a veritable minefield. There is also a fair amount of effort required to get moving, especially in the early days mentally preparing, getting all your staple products together and starting to cook.

Psychology and Motivation

This aspect of moving to a new diet and lifestyle is absolutely crucial to success. You are what you think, not just what you eat. The first part of this process is making sure that you have a solid understanding of exactly why you are doing this – what are your personal objectives and do you understand the rationale behind Paleo? There is absolutely no point in jumping in if you don’t have solid reasons to do so, and don’t have a good grasp of why Paleo will deliver benefits to you, because it will make it that much easier to slip up and end up in a spiral of self-loathing and doubt. You don’t need a science degree to understand it, much of the writing on Paleo is super-accessible and some is even funny.

Your motivation could be anything – people come to the Paleo side of life for all sorts of varied reasons: it could be for weight loss, to look good naked or for buns of steel, management or reversal of an auto-immune disease or the simple desire to feel healthier to enable you to make the most out of your one life. There are a lot of Paleo testimonials out there (and on Mark’s Daily Apple) – read them for inspiration. Read them again later if you find your motivation flagging.

Fred and Wilma Flinstone

Fred had buns of steel, that's why Wilma loved him.

Now, another important stumbling block for many people starting out is what I term the “all or nothing” view where the potential Paleo adopter freaks out at the thought that these changes are for life and are therefore going to be impossible to maintain for a whole lifetime. It’s so important when you get started not to think this way because then it all seems like a massive mountain you are scaling. This is the reason that programs such as the Whole30 are so popular-  because all they ask is for one month of commitment as an experiment for you to see how you respond to it. 30 days is necessary because it takes time for food toxins to clear from the body (it doesn’t “heppen overnight” as those Pantene ads used to tell us) and for the inflammatory processes going on in the body to calm down. It’s also long enough that when you get to the end of the 30 days, you feel a sense of achievement and a sense that if you can keep it up for 30 entire days, you may just find yourself able to extend to 3 months, a year or even longer.

It’s also important to realise that the tenets of Paleo go against many entrenched beliefs we personally have about nutrition and health, but also those that are trumpeted by the “authorities” we place so much blind trust in. From all the reading I have done, it really is shocking to realise how much we as a public have been misled by those in power. We’re also quite susceptible to marketing that masquerades as authoritative health advice – case in point is Hayley Lewis, former swimmer and Biggest Loser host, telling us to “Live Well” by popping some nurofen…unfortunately, Hayles, ibuprofen can seriously mess with gut health, causing all sorts of health problems. I’m not about to take health advice from you!

And the last major point I want to make here is to focus on what you can eat, not what you can’t eat. This is crucial as it reminds you of the wealth of foods you can still eat – believe me, there are a lot. Obviously, you still need to know what you can’t eat, but this is more so you don’t have accidental slip ups preparing food or eating out. It can be daunting when you start out, because the list of restricted foods looks long and hardcore! But believe me, it isn’t once you remember the variety of foods available that our monopolistic supermarkets aren’t so good at stocking. And the even better news is that a lot of dishes you eat are indeed already Paleo! For example, salads – depending on the ingredients – stews, soups, casseroles, steak and veggies, baked fish…the list goes on.

Homemade basil pesto

Homemade basil pesto - this is a Paleo-ready condiment!

Paleo is more flexible than you may think

I think there is a major misconception out there in the general community about Paleo. It’s not all blood and gore you know, we’re not all walking around with rudimentary tools for capturing that night’s dinner of whole jersey cow!

Prehistoric hunting

Prehistoric hunting

Suprisingly, a lot of people don’t realise that you can meet Paleo guidelines and not ever eat red meat. Yes, it’s true! It’s not really ideal, in my opinion because of the B12 factor I’ve written about before, but many Paleo writers agree it’s possible. The most common variation of Paleo seems to be a “pescatarian” type approach, where seafood is consumed but no other animal meat. There are a lot of great threads about this particular issue over on PaleoHacks if you want to read a bit more.

Glorious seafood

Glorious seafood

Getting Started – Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Ok, so now you’re ready to roll, it’s really important to properly prepare. I would recommend spending 1-2 weeks on this stage to ensure future success. I actually jumped right in, but that was because I already had a lot of the staple products anyway and I snapped when I decided to start Paleo – for some people, that may actually work better than a formal prep period, it all depends on your personality and situation.

Here are my top tips for preparing to make the jump:

  1. Once you have an understanding of what you can eat, write a long list of foods and then go shopping to stock up on the staples.
  2. When shopping, think of Michael Pollan’squote that if you see a product in the supermarket that your great grandmother would probably not recognise as food, then it probably isn’t food. Sorry to all the Space Food sticks fans out there, but that stuff ain’t edible!

    Space Food Sticks

    Space Food Sticks - food?

  3. Think about your lifestyle and commitments. Think about your daily routines and how you will be able to eat healthy while also keeping to your other life commitments – if others such as Sarah Fragoso can do it, so can you. Start reading Paleo recipe blogs and compiling a collection of things you’d like to make and would suit your lifestyle.
  4. Tell your family and friends and ask for their support. Apologise in advance for being a “pain in the butt”, but express how much this means to you. Once they see your good results, they will probably be more supportive and may even be tempted to join you!
  5. If you do a lot of social eating, think about where you can eat out and what sort of dishes you can eat. You’d be surprised at the possibilities, though honestly you will most likely need to make some compromises here and there.
  6. Financially, it can be more expensive to eat this way. But, it’s important to remember that any investment you make now by eating good food, will pay for itself endlessly with a better life for you and will also minimise future health costs. There are plenty of blogs that cover the topic of how to eat Paleo on a budget. It’s not necessary to eat organic –  you may want to eat some items as organic and some as non-organic, it’s up to you. It’s more important to eat the right things and ditch the crap. Also, there’s no need to buy any cookbooks – the web is absolutely teeming with free inspiration.

Once you’re on board

  1. Make things in advance – plan ahead. This will make your life so much easier – it gives you more time to spend on life commitments and fun stuff plus it avoids potential meltdowns when you think you’ve got nothing to eat.

    Cookie dough prepped for rolling

    Cookie dough - I often make double to save myself time

  2. Let go of perfection and ego. This is not a competition. Invoke the 80/20 rule when you need to (provided you don’t have severe intolerances or serious autoimmune disease) – this means that you do have some leeway to make exceptions to Paleo when you have no choice, or when you just feel like relaxing things a little. Be careful, as for some people this is a very slippery slope.
  3. Join Facebook groups and follow Paleo peeps on Twitter to keep up the motivation and inspiration.
  4. Relax! You’re on the right track and are making a great investment in your current and future health.
  5. Have fun with it – start a blog and celebrate your progress. The blog doesn’t have to be the best Paleo blog in the world – it can simply be a marker of your progress and a good way to spread the word amongst your network.
  6. Forgive yourself if you stumble – there’s no gold star for 100% adherence. Just get back on the bike and keep riding!
  7. Explore your neighbourhood or city’s diverse types of grocery stores and health food shops – Chinese, Fijian, grower’s markets, the wacky folks at The Suveran….
The Suveran

The Suveran - crazy in the coconuts, just like me.

Keeping up the momentum

So, you done  a few weeks or maybe a couple of months of Paleo and have seen some good results, though nothing spectacular. You’re wondering “is it really worth all of this effort if I haven’t lost any weight, but my skin is smoother?” Depending on your health status, you may need longer than a month to see results. I did, and I also needed to make some tweaks to get my breakthrough. But, boy am I glad I stuck with it!

Keeping up the momentum involves a few key strategies:

  1. Remind yourself of why you are doing this, as detailed above.
  2. Consult with the Paleo community to find out if there are some tweaks you can make to get even better results. It’s a great, supportive community. My favourite community site is PaleoHacks.
  3. According to Chris Kresser from The Healthy Skeptic, it’s important to identify your weak links to work on those, rather than just strengthening your strong links.
  4. Substitution goes a long way – find things that replace foods you ate previously. A simple example is almond or macadamia butter instead of peanut butter. Sure, it’s more expensive, but so are unnecessary health care bills.
  5. Read blogs for inspiration. There are a helluva lot of good ones out there that are so creative and entertaining to read. There is a good list on the right hand side of this page under “Blogroll”.
  6. There may be people around you who are “Debbie Downers” or are really nitpicky and argumentative, who don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. The best response here is to know your stuff – why you’re doing it, and maintain a thick skin. It’s your life, not theirs’! Thankfully, this hasn’t happened to me but if I ate out more in groups, then it might do. I have heard of people that have real trouble with their families not getting it and not being supportive, I feel for these people because that just makes it all harder. Again, consult the community sites to get tips about dealing with the naysayers, because many people have dealt with this already.

More resources

Here’s a list of the additional resources to help get you on your way.

http://balancedbites.com/useful-guides

http://balancedbites.com/resources

http://huntgatherlove.com/content/start-here-post

http://paleoaustralia.com/about-paleo/how-to-get-started/

I’d love to hear any more tips from readers in terms of how to get started on Paleo and how to keep it up.

Condiments: Basil pesto

August 3, 2011

Gosh darn it, I love pesto. It’s such a versatile condiment, working with so many different dishes and can be made with quite a wide variety of herbs, oils and nuts. This recipe is for the classic basil pesto. There is absolutely no need for any parmesan in a pesto made with quality, fresh ingredients. This keeps for about a week (possibly longer) due to the oil content. It works well added to lunches when they need some more zest.

Basil pesto

Basil pesto

Ingredients

Bunch fresh basil, washed and dried (should be 2-3 cups)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pesto ingredients

Pesto ingredients

Method

Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the basil and pulse a few more times. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Stop occasionally to scrape down the side of the food processor to ensure a consistent result. Blend until smooth.

Serving suggestions

Serve with “zucchini pasta”, with eggs at breakfast, or mixed with tuna or other fish for a tasty and easy lunch.

Basil pesto zucchini pasta served with juicy steak

Basil pesto zucchini pasta served with juicy steak

Winter meals: Zucchini “pasta”

August 3, 2011

Pasta is without a doubt one of the best comfort foods around and is generally a convenient fallback for many a busy and hungry eater. But since grains are out on Paleo, what is one to do? Enter the zucchini! This dish is easy and really adaptable for making your old favourite pasta dishes. It’s easier if you have a mandoline to slice the zucchini up in julienne style, but can be done manually. My fave Paleo blogger, Nom Nom Paleo tracked down a julienne peeler and uses that. I think I’ll have to get one myself as my Masterchef mandoline is a pile of crap it would seem 😦

Zucchini ready to be sliced

Zucchini ready to be sliced

I’ve made this zucchini pasta twice, the first time with some amazing Spring Hill aged beef mince to make meatballs in tomato sauce and the second time was to make a basil pasta with veggies.

You really can treat it just like pasta, the only differences are that you obviously have to “make” the pasta threads themselves by slicing the zucchini and it literally needs only 2 minutes dunked in boiling water only – otherwise it goes floppy, and no one likes floppy, soggy things right? I would prepare 1 zucchini per person that you are serving.

Cooked zucchini pasta

Cooked zucchini pasta

 

Basil pesto zucchini pasta served with juicy steak

Basil pesto zucchini pasta served with juicy steak

Homemade pecan cinnamon chocolate

August 2, 2011

I feel sorry for people who don’t like chocolate.Yes, dear reader, there are people out there who don’t like this heavenly brown creation. I’m not one of those people. Whilst I hate cheap chocolate, of the kind we used to get high on as kids at Easter time, there is nothing better than that first burst of drug-like euphoria after getting your mitts on some.

I’ve been threatening to make real homemade chocolate for about six months, ever since this gold-brick-type object (or is it a weapon?) landed on my doorstep.

Cacao butter

Cacao butter - weapon of mass consumption

For anyone curious, it has a subtle smell of chocolate and looks like a block of white chocolate, but is absolutely rock hard. Just like my abs will be one day.

I’d made a beautiful chocolate slice before which uses coconut flour and coconut oil, but hadn’t made actual chocolate. I was totally daunted by the prospect so held off for ages.

Finally, I tracked down some recipes and picked what looked to be like the one I could least screw up! And I didn’t screw up, it turned out fabulously. I used cinnamon (of course), rice and maple syrup as sweeteners and pecans which surely have to be one of the best nuts around with their silky texture and distinct taste.  It turned out to be pretty similar to 85% Lindt chocolate and is quite rich, so you really can get away with just eating tiny morsels at  a time, unlike Cadbury’s where you could easily gorge on half a block before retiring to the bathroom deep in regret.

The finished product

The finished product - nom nom nom!

Ingredients

  • 100g Raw Cacao Butter
  • 6 tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • 2-3 tbsp rice and/or maple syrup (I used a combo)
  • 1 Small pinch of fine sea salt (optional but helps draw out the chocolate flavour)
  • 30g chopped pecans
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

Ensure all utensils and the bowl are completely dry before the ingredients are added as water can cause the mix to separate.

Place the raw cacao butter in a double boiler – this is simply a bowl over a pan of water on a low heat. Ensure the bowl does not touch the water. Allow to melt gently.

Melting cacao butter in the double boiler

Melting cacao butter in the double boiler

Once melted add 6 tbsp raw cacao powder and mix well using a metal ballon whisk (as wooden spoons don’t blend as well). Ensure the heat is low and add the sweetener, cinnamon and pecans. Taste the mix once melted and add more sweetener if you prefer a sweeter taste.

Adding in the cacao powder gradually

Adding in the cacao powder gradually

Once completely melted and blended remove from heat. Your mixture should be runny and easy to pour and can be poured or spooned into ice cube tray or silicone moulds (I used silicone cupcake moulds). Place in the freezer and leave to set for 20mins to half an hour on in the fridge for around 2 hours.

Silicone cupcake moulds came in handy.

Silicone cupcake moulds came in handy.