Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Simplifying: An Almost Paleo Diet

By Kate Yoak

Mark Sisson's newsletter the other week says:
It's nice to have goals, but you have to have a plan of attack to succeed. Full health is achievable, certainly within a year. But break it down, start with a few specifics. Make this "the year I stop drinking soda!" or "the year I go camping once a month!" Let total health blossom as a result of achievable goals.
For me, this was the encouragement I needed to proceed with a plan that I had made for myself. A while ago, I blogged about the advice I gave my dad to start paleo gently. Recently, I have taken a page out of my own book and relaxed the requirements I had set for myself initially, focusing on the following principles:
  1. Paleo is a high-fat high-protein diet. I tell my kids, "meat is what gives you energy to do the things you want." For me, what I want is to be a successful parent who is not too exhausted for the patience, creativity and physical activity the job requires. I can also use the extra kick a good Paleo meal gives me for my after-hours personal and professional activities.
  2. Grain is not acceptable as a food group. However, I will use it as an herb, if you will: boy, does flour-based gravy taste good! And while Trader Joe's sweet potato fries are far better than anything I can create, they contain gluten to give them the shape and crispiness.

  3. [Note from the Paleo-Police and editor: Gluten is one of those items that some people need to avoid completely because of its potential for triggering auto-immunity reactions. Unfortunately many people are not aware that they have such reactions (though, they might become aware when serious "inexplicable" health problems pop up). A minuscule amount of gluten or cross-reagents can cause immune reactions for six months. Lab tests for gluten sensitivity have not been accurate, though a better one is now available from Cyrex Labs. /Christian Wernstedt]

  4. High sugar fruits should be avoided. But fruits, particularly the healthy variety, can be part of many quick and wonderful snacks. Better than bagels, eh?
  5. A little healthier is better. I just don't sweat it so much any more. When we go to have sushi, I get some sashimi, but the sushi rolls are my favorites. I've quit torturing myself and eat the whole thing.
  6. There is such a thing as healthy desert: dark chocolate, fruits/berries with whipped cream, cheesecake, even meringues. I want just plain unabashed decadence to be part of my lifestyle.
This is enabling me to cooperate with my non-paleo family in creating meals. As a result of making this change, I am working with my live-in mother-in-law and depending on her to create meals that are pretty good, instead of facing the lonely task of planning, shopping and cooking strict paleo.

One of the tricky parts she is actually helping me is: introducing more fat into the already-cooked meals. My husband is trying to lose weight in the mainstream way, by avoiding fat and counting calories. So how do we sit down at a single table?

Here are some ideas I have worked out:
  1. Adding butter into sauces at the table.
  2. Rendered (which I figured out means fried) salt pork fat, resulting in delicious bacon bits (only much better than bacon) sprinkled in with the food.
  3. When we bake chicken, we use a mix of low-fat white meat and high-fat dark.
  4. I sprinkle almond slices & shredded coconut on top of meat sauces
  5. Avocado is frequently a good side.
  6. My dad is going to buy me some Russian salt pork, called "salo". I remember it from my childhood. It is intended to be eaten raw, on top of a sandwich, or fried up like bacon bits. The difference is, whether raw or rendered, it melts in your mouth, losing the stringiness of bacon due to a different salting process. I have to write about it once i have some!
  7. If all else fails, I round out the meal with a high-fat desert (see dessert listings above).
I feel good again. My kids are not aggravating me. Even my mother-in-law is pretty good company. Yesterday I was completely sleep-deprived, having stayed up half the night for no good reason. I was falling off my feet - but I never lost my temper, went shopping, cooked dinner and passed out cuddling with the babies. I will put this get-back-to-paleo operation as an unqualified success thus far.

This is a cross-post from cavekitchen.com. Come visit me there!

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