You've heard of the Paleo Diet, right? Basically it is only eating foods that would have been around to be hunted or gathered in the Paleolithic era, so... meat, fruit, veggies, nuts. Nothing processed, no grains, no sugars, etc etc. Apparently Jeb Bush is a fan, but whether or not that is an endorsement is up to your politics to decide! :P
My husband and I tried out Paleo for the first time about two years ago, as a kind of life experiment (we love experiments!), and were really happy with what we saw in terms of our energy levels, weight loss/maintenance, increased fruit/vegetable intake, and decreased need to snack in between meals. However, eating that way (no cheese! no pizza! no chocolate!!) is pretty hard to sustain long-term, so we've kind of evolved our own system of eating, that we call "Paleo-ish."
Basically, our version of Paleo is: high protein content (meat or eggs at every meal, grassfed and/or organic whenever possible), lots of vegetables (organic and local whenever possible), and a couple of servings of fruit a day (ditto). We steer clear of the "filler" carbs -- bread, pasta, crackers, chips, or cereal/granola -- but do choose to eat beans and grassfed dairy, both of which most people on strict Paleo avoid. We figure... what is life without cheese? ;P Also, we are lucky enough to not have any allergies/sensitivities to dairy, so in moderation we see no reason to avoid it.
We eat Paleo-ish about 80% of the time, with the other 20% consisting of eating out, pizza, tacos, Indian food, and the occasional grilled cheese sandwich (ha!). This balance works well for us, providing a generally solid base of eating nutritiously, with room to play and savor what we eat as well. I think of it as a healthy, lower-carb philosophy of eating, for sane people who love food. ;)
If you're curious about Paleo, this was our main resource guide when we were getting started: Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle. There are plenty of blogs out there with plenty of ideas and opinions ("no, really?" you ask incredulously), but we liked having an actual nutritionist providing the information. Plus, there's really gorgeous food photography throughout, great recipes, infographics, and lots of modifications provided for people with various diet needs, from autoimmune issues, to digestive health, to athletic performance, etc. Worth checking out if you're curious!
Here's some inspiration for Paleo-ish meal planning, taken from our last week of cooking...
Paleo pasta salad - Caprese Salad with Summer Squash "Noodles"
This Paleo-ish take on pasta salad was surprisingly good... it was the first time we'd ever played around with vegetable "noodles," and we were impressed! You can get lots of fancy "noodlers" on Amazon (Paderno World Cuisine, Spiral Slicer Spiralizer, or Müeller Spiral-Ultra are some good examples), but I didn't want to spring for another kitchen tool without knowing if we liked the veggie noodles in the first place.... so I just used a potato peeler, and stopped "peeling" the noodles when I got to the seeds of the squash. I steamed the "noodles" for a more pasta-like consistency and then let them cool before adding them to the salad. Even my husband approved, and he had been dubious earlier, believe me! I see a spiralizer purchase in my future...
This recipe came from the book Practical Paleo (with the addition of the feta... did I mention we like cheese...?), but here's a similar one on Pinterest. Follow me while you're there!
Sweet and Spicy Chicken and Mashed Cauliflower
For the mashed cauliflower, you just steam small chunks of cauliflower and then drop it in your food processor and process away, adding butter / cream / garlic or whatever else you want your faux-potatoes to taste like (*coughcheesecough*) as you blend. You want the cauliflower to still be hot as you are doing this, so that the other ingredients will get nice and melty and it will all mesh together really well. Here is a recipe example we've made in the past, though this time we followed the one in... you guessed it... Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle. If you're in a hurry, a nice easy shortcut for this side is to buy a bag of pre-washed and cut-up cauliflower at the grocery store -- we usually get ours at Trader Joes.
Paleo-ish Salmon Tacos -- Just Ignore the Tortillas...
These Salmon tacos are DELICIOUS, and if you pretend not to see the tortillas, very Paleo... Plus they're easy! So very easy! I cooked and shredded salmon burgers (we use the wild-caught variety from Costco), sautéed peppers, onions, black beans, and a dash of frozen corn, and chopped up cherry tomatoes and avocado.... SO good. If you are strictly following a paleo diet, you would leave out the black beans and either make your own cauliflower tortillas, or buy something like this coconut based version or this spinach based version.
Paleo Breakfast Casserole - Zucchini, Carrot, Sweet Potato Quiche
This is a terrible photo, which is why my poor casserole has to go last... ;P When you are eating Paleo you eat many, many eggs. Eggs fried, eggs scrambled, eggs boiled... You get bored with eggs. So a nice quiche can be a great change of pace! This recipe as well came from Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle -- but here's a similar one on Pinterest (follow me!! If I say it often enough, you'll totally do it, right?? ;)
Note that if you want a savory casserole, go light on (or skip altogether) the sweet potato. I know from past experience that sweet potato easily turns an egg casserole into something more like a coffee cake. Which I thought was delicious, honestly, but isn't my husband's favorite and might not be yours either. I used the shredding attachment on my food processor for the veggies in this quiche, but you could also use your fancy new spiralizer from the Caprese Salad recipe above... your call!
I hope you enjoyed this look into Paleo-ish meal planning! Be sure to subscribe for more recipes in the future! Also, feel free to ask any questions, and if you have recipes you think I'd like be sure to send them my way. Best of luck with your cooking!
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