Friday, April 26, 2013

Sample Paleo Dinner

I was halfway through my dinner the other night and thought it was a particularly good combo, so before it was all gone, I took a quick snapshot and thought I'd share it as an example of a 'paleo' style dinner:

Baby Arugula
From my local farmer's market
Avocado pieces
Bought in bulk from the health food store
On sale at the health food store
Black Trumpet Mushrooms Bought at my local farmer's market (wild harvested)
Coconut Oil
Bought from Costco (cold-pressed)
Dulse Bought in bulk online
Sockeye Salmon Bought the largest quantity of whole filets available for cost savings from
Olive Oil
(I just saw it on Amazon too)

A Few Notes
  • All the greens are 'raw' foods - that is uncooked. The only food processing is: rinse and chop.
  • All the ingredients above are organic to limit pesticide exposure. (The goal is to optimize nutrients while reducing your body's tax burden - that is: wonky chemicals you were not evolutionarily adapted to process efficiently.)
  • I broiled the salmon on 'Hi' for 5min; let sit a couple minute after that. It's just barely cooked through (enough to flake).
  • I chopped and then sautéed the mushrooms in coconut oil (several tbsp, I didn't measure) and oregano flakes.

I think the ultimate goal of paleo style eating is to eat what you feel like eating on the day (from a variety of high quality individual ingredients that you put together), not from a prescribed plan. It's an idea that food cravings are your body's cue to let you know what nutrients you need most at that time. Seems like an intriguing idea to try out, and it's fun, so that's what I've been up to lately. There is a transition period though:

When you first start out trying to shift your eating habits around, you may be craving more of your old routine rather than those actual foods. Some people are also going so far as to say grains actually bind to opiate receptors in the brain which could also contribute to food cravings (, That being said, the biggest hurdle I found when trying to eliminate processed food, grains, and even legumes (beans, peas, ...), was what food that left to eat! All my life, some kind of bread/flour, rice,  beans, or potatoes (which is in the nightshade family) had been a main part of every meal. Once I realized I could actually eat a much larger variety of foods than I ever knew about before ( and I wouldn't starve ;p ) my food experience became a very colorful adventure.

My usual dinner template
I guess I tend to have a typical dinner template, but change up the actual ingredients depending on what I've grabbed from the market that week. It's fun to chop up some kind of greens for texture. I find the 'spicy' greens way too overpowering for juicing or even in a smoothie, but they are delightful as the bottom layer of my dinner platter. The avocados are my only real mainstay. After that, if I have sauerkraut ready (I make my own which includes a huge cost savings for the probiotics), I'll usually add that. From there, I normally grab whatever's in the fridge (which depends on the sales or the season: cucumbers, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, asparagus, ...). I heavily sprinkle some sort of seaweed flakes over the top (normally dulse, but could be sea lettuce, or algaes: spirulina, or chlorella). Sea Vegetables in general (as they are called in the store) are a bit salty which is nice for flavor, and have an impressive mineral profile. I've been also using dried oregano as a sprinkle over my foods lately - start with just a pinch to see if you like it first.

I also usually add some combination of egg yolks, or meat, or sautéed mushrooms on top. (For mushrooms, maitake and shiitake are my current favorites, but I also try the local varieties from my farmers market as well. As a fallback, I usually have a bulk supply of dried shiitake mushrooms on hand.) I slow cook any heavier meats like bison or yak (grass-fed from a local farm ), but quickly broil any (pre-thawed) salmon. I've also been known to mix a raw egg yolk with olive oil like salad dressing and pour it over the top, but I sometimes soft boil the eggs instead.

Food Combining Note
Food combining issues usually take care of themselves with this approach, but if I do use starchy vegetables  - sweet potato, beets, carrots - then I do not eat it with any meats in the same meal. Many books advised that combining starches and meats is very inefficient for digesting, so I figured I would avoid that combination for the time being to be on the safe side. I had some initial confusion with the term 'vegetable' when I was first learning about food combining. I had heard things like 'fruits and vegetables do not mix.' What cleared it up for me was realizing that most people giving these guidelines seem to be classifying 'vegetable' as a starchy vegetable - ie: anything from under the ground. It's why cucumbers or tomatoes are technically fruits, not vegetables. Leafy greens, or basically things above the ground (the aerial parts of the plant), are generally compatible with each other for digestion.  Anything below the ground requires more energy for digestion. The rule of thumb I've been following is to limit individual meals to only one of the more energy consuming foods: so that's either: roots below the ground, or meats, or neither.

Mixing greens with whatever you are eating seems to be a big digestion win. I even took some kale-wrapped dates on an airplane as a snack. ;p  At this point, I'm pretty much sold that the green aerial parts of the plants are the most nutrient dense food we can be eating per calorie. BTW, I often see people ask for their fennel or carrot tops to be chopped off in the market - whoa! When I found out the farmers were just going to recycle that huge pile, I asked if I could grab a bundle & they said sure! Amazing - those green tops are the main reason I buy the fennel or beets. Free food until more people catch on. :)

So, that's basically a rough idea of my typical paleo dinner. Hope it helped to see this approach!

by Laura A Knauth

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