Unexpected Benefits of Paleo + Raw Foods

My Latest Food Strategy : Paleo + Raw Foods

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unexpected Benefits of Paleo + Raw Foods

I started testing out a paleo + raw foods strategy purely for health reasons, but have seen it has many other unexpected benefits that I thought would be helpful to share. The foods I’m eating nowadays don’t rely on technology/electricity as much as in the past. On the ‘Standard American Diet’, loosing electricity for more than a day would have presented some real food challenges for me. Even with electricity and running water, I would have probably exhausted my pantry supply in under a week if I were unable to visit a store – and it would not have been a particularly pleasant week. Nowadays, I think I have at least a two to three week supply of food and water on hand without any extra preparation. Pretty cool!

Each month, I buy a case of avocados and coconuts from my local ‘New Seasons’ store because they offer a huge bulk discount. I’ve found these keep great in the fridge and can use them all up before they spoil. In the winter, I don’t even need the fridge; they keep just fine in the garage.

Typical bulk quantity costs:
36 large organic avocados : $40
20 mature organic coconuts : $32
Update 3/18/2014: Buying wholesale directly from a produce distributor in your city to save even more $$.

I also started making sauerkraut this past year as a cheap alternative to probiotic pills. (The last bottles I bought were on sale for $25 for about a month’s supply, and the probiotic dosage in pills-form can be around 100x less than with raw sauerkraut.) With homemade raw sauerkraut, I can hear the mixture bubbling periodically, so I know it has active cultures (unlike the pills, where you are just hoping). The fermentation process also makes more nutrients available and more easily absorbed (For cabbage-based sauerkraut, this is the case for vitamin C in particular). Store bought sauerkraut is pasteurized (unless it specifically says 'raw'), which kills the probiotics.

There are many resources online for fermentation recipes, but here’s a basic recipe for sauerkraut:
  • Cut up some cabbage
    • I’ve just used the food processor lately.
  • Sprinkle some salt over the leaves
    • I use sea salt or Himalayan salt over the cabbage shreds : rule of thumb is about 1 tbsp per cabbage, but I’ve been using a bit less lately. Salt prohibits bad bacteria growth and helps the cabbage leaves release their juices.
  • Beat up the leaves a bit to further release more of the juices
    • I use a wooden rolling pin.
  • Fill a fermentation pot
    • I bought the 10L variety (Harsch Gairtopf) on Amazon, or you could just use mason jars ... just make sure to use a plastic lid since the metal will corrode when the sauerkraut becomes acidic during the fermentation process.
  • Make sure the juices cover all plant materials.
    •  or add some additional salt brine if there’s not enough cabbage juice.
  • Leave it alone for at least a week.
    • I usually have mine going for about 3wks or so as I rotate the batches.
    • I think you need to periodically release the pressure every few days if using a mason jar.
  • Once it’s fermented as much as you want, you can put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process.
    • Using my big fermentation crock (with the water channel to allow gasses to escape without letting air in), so far, I've never had a batch with any mold on top. Apparently if you see mold on the top, you can just scrape it off and that's all there is to it. Anything under the liquid is preserved by the fermentation process.
So basically, I have on average a gallon of sauerkraut available that does not need refrigeration.

Growing Sprouts / Greens Indoors
Sprouting is also fantastic for additional nutrients that do not need refrigeration – only a bit of clean water every day. There are also lots of resources online about sprouting, but the basic idea is:
  • Soak you sprouting seeds overnight – my favorite lately is fenugreek
    • I usually order about 5lbs of sprouting seeds at a time
  • Drain the water thoroughly the next morning (if you’re using a mason jar, you could put some cheese cloth over the top with a rubber band and let it drain at an angle in the sink). Lately, I've been using the 'Easy Sprout Sprouter' from Amazon.
  • Preferably cover the seeds or keep them out of sunlight to speed up growth.
  • Rinse the seeds in the evening, and leave to drain overnight.
  • Repeat each morning and evening until the sprouts are the size you want.
  • I like to wait until the two leaves pop out of the shell; putting them in the sunlight will cause the leaves to get really green. (Chlorophyll for the win!)

Spring Water
I have also been incorporating additional water sources by collecting 15 gallons of spring water from a nearby spring (I wish I could opt out of the fluoride added to our tap water 'for your safety'.)  The spring I visit is on the way to the beach, so I usually make a fun trip of it. I used to find the nearest one to me.  For me, I’ve decided it’s worth a risk to drink the water directly from the spring, but definitely use your own judgment. These were the encouraging signs to me: The spring I collect water from is in the middle of a mountainous uninhabited forest area, the water gushes very quickly, it was very cold, and there is usually a lineup of cars with people waiting to fill their bottles.

Storing spring water in plastic containers is not ideal (even BPA free plastic has some kind of xenoestrogen that will leach into the water). I do take plastic 5gal bottles with me in the car to collect the water just because it’s about the max I can lift fully loaded. When I get home, I have big glass containers where I store the water long term – usually takes me about 2wks to drink it.

  • I have quite a few bags of dried fruit on hand (Costco sells organic figs, and some other online stores have dried organic peaches, etc…)  
  • I usually have some packs of salt-cured organic olive
  • I buy the largest quantity available of sockeye salmon fillets from to save on costs (it was 13.5 lbs for $225 with shipping). So on average, I also have a decent quantity of fish on hand.
So, between the extra water, coconuts, avocados, sauerkraut, sprouts, dried fruit, olives, and fish (it’s sushi grade if there’s really an emergency), I realized that without a scramble to specifically prepare for an emergency, I have potentially a two-three week buffer where I think I can get enough calories and nutrients for basic needs. I have realized more and more that the raw foods / paleo lifestyle is freeing me from many dependencies that I thought were unavoidable in the modern world. I love this increasing independence and hope these ideas help you as well!

by Laura A Knauth

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Latest Food Strategy : Paleo + Raw Foods

I have been testing a combination paleo + raw (uncooked) food strategy for the past year and realized it had some additional bonuses besides health that I wasn’t expecting. Before I go into that on the next post, I wanted to quick give a background about what motivated me to completely change around what I’ve been eating:

Up until last year, I had been following what I thought was a very healthy lifestyle, choosing ‘healthy whole grains’, avoiding cholesterol, etc … basically thinking that people who specialized in health had these food recommendations on lock down – all figured out. It never occurred to me that the foods that were supposedly healthy might have lead to digestion troubles I’d been experiencing over the years. I strongly suspect I have a gluten sensitivity. (In general, I'm beginning to suspect most people likely have varying degrees of trouble with gluten – aka: grains/bread/pasta.) I was so relieved and thankful to hear about different approaches to eating that anyone can try out to see if it helps with their health concerns.

My general approach to most things at this point is to find out as much unfiltered data as possible and make my own conclusions; then I’ll tell people what worked for me & hopefully that’s helpful. :) I hope everyone does the same! My concern with the standard advice we get from authority figures is that it is at best based on an extremely reduced data set. (More in a future post.) Suffice it to say that I have found it very rewarding on many levels to test out promising ideas on my own. At this point, I have an extreme skepticism to modern food processing. A key change was that I no longer feel the need to wait for a ‘study’ to declare that modern food processing is harmful, now that I realize I can just test out a new approach myself and see the results myself.

My main misconceptions: 

  • I had just assumed official agencies had the basic health tips on lock down so we didn’t have to worry. Doh! 
  • I had also thought people would need to wait until their later years to find out if their food choices may have had an effect on preventing some horrible disease, but I now realize that common health conditions people experience throughout their lives may be directly related to the food they are eating. Doh!
    • Being healthy throughout your life is much less expensive than buying treatments for ‘normal’ health afflictions.
  • I had thought health ailments were a result of the body running amuck and needed to be saved by the wonders of modern medical science.
    • I now strongly suspect the majority of chronic health conditions are symptoms of an underlying problem. Treating the symptoms with modern medical paradigms are more analogous to turning off the check engine light on you car. At this point, I view symptoms as clues to help you figure out the actual cause of the problem, and supporting your body with whatever it's trying to do.
  • I had expected that any effective remedy to a health condition would work within a day or so. (The magic pill from the doctor mindset.)
    • I now suspect the timeline to remedy the true root source of a health problem (depending upon how long it's been building) can be on the order of years. Sometimes results are noticeable much sooner, but still usually at least a few weeks, or a few months of consistent effort in the 'right' direction. The key is that overnight 'remedies' usually treat symptoms, that soon come back again and again.
Here’s my latest overall food approach:
My food is my medicine.
  • By volume, I eat mostly greens (rotated varieties each day). Blending these in smoothies or juicing makes it much easier to eat at least 1 lb a day.
    •   I also make sure to eat seaweed each day for more minerals (mostly kelp and dulse for the iodine)
  • By calories, I have been eating mostly fats (mainly coconuts and avocados).
  • For bioavailable B12, Zinc, Omega3, and other fat soluble vitamins: grass-fed beef and bone broth, oysters, and eggs (all from the local farmer’s market), and sockeye salmon (

At this point, I only eat organic food. This isn’t a yuppie thing. If individual food items are certified ‘organic’, it comes with particular legal standards that I find valuable. My strategy for choosing organic food is to consume as few toxins as possible. (I view this in a similar way to financial disclosures that companies make for stockholders. I want to place a bet on my health strategy, so to speak; and I don’t want my health to be nickel & dimed.) Although I am increasingly concerned at suspicious chemicals are being slipped into ‘organic’ standards, it is still the main defense consumers have to know what they are buying. Lately, I have been buying most of my food from local farmers. I've asked them all kinds of questions about their growing practices & found a few true gems. (If the people you talk with are excited to explain about all of the care they've taken in producing their high quality organic food, that is a very good sign. ) It’s fun to go to the market and meet the people growing your food!

Side Note: I do think growing your own food is the ideal option. I've been attempting to grow my own garden, but haven't produced much for myself yet. I'll keep trying! I have rock dust to try amending the soil for next year and a brix meter to measure the results. Minerals for the win. :) I have had great luck with sprouts at least, but don't grow enough for the quantity of greens I usually eat in a day.

Although transitioning my lifelong eating patterns was a big process, I was amazed that there really is another way to eat (that doesn’t involve the microwave). I love finally knowing where my food is coming from, and seeing a beautiful plate of colorful food always makes me smile. :)  My food strategy is a work in progress, but I wanted to share my experience so far; hope it helps!

There are many library books on paleo food, but I found these particularly helpful:
Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas
The Paleo Solution             by Robb Wolf  (he also has an awesome Podcast)

I have found lots of helpful tips watching YouTube videos of people discussing their raw food strategies. I love that people are sharing their heath strategies and experiences online. YouTube is not to get the ‘official’ approved and verified ‘right’ answer; this thing is unfiltered – thank goodness! I find it such a valuable resource to expand your possibilities - to find general idea about what you think looks compelling enough to test yourself.

by Laura A Knauth