Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick paleo guidelines and meal ideas

Paleo living can seem mysterious and confusing to people who aren't familiar.  There's a lot of scientific jargon tossed around and within the paleo world there are many camps, all promoting their own version.

But what people really want to know is: What do I eat?

So today I thought I'd share a few guidelines and meal ideas. Sound good?

The basic paleo rules I follow are: No grains, legumes, or sugar and very limited dairy.

No grains eliminates all flour products, breads, pasta, etc. and all grains such as rice, oats, barley, etc.  No substitutes either.

No legumes means no peanuts or peanut butter, beans or hummus. It also means no soy or anything made with soy.

No sugar means no sweetener of any kind. Honey is the only exception to that and I rarely indulge.

Dairy it is controversial in the paleo world and I limit it because I feel better without it.  So while I may add cream to coffee if I'm out or eat cheese if it comes on a salad, I don't eat it at home.  The exception is butter - I eat a lot of that!

While this may seem like a lot of elimination it really isn't.  I never get bored and I don't miss any of those ingredients at all.

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What I do eat:  Anything in it's whole and natural form.  Lots of meat, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.  I also eat a large amount of fat which includes the fat in meat, lots of pastured butter, and coconut oil.  I'd say my diet is well over 60% fat with the rest more or less evenly distributed.

I also eat the highest quality food I can get.  That means grass fed beef and pastured poultry and pork, freshly caught fish and game (a rare indulgence when I can get it),  and fresh vegetables and fruits.  Frozen will do in a pinch but I never eat canned anything. I never compromise on the meat products but on fruits and vegetables I don't stress if I can't find organic (though I prefer it).

How I prepare it.  It's just me so I don't have to cook in large quantities.  Plus I'm pretty happy with simple dishes and variations so you won't see me doing a lot of seasonings, sauces and the like.  And I try to cook entire meals using only one skillet... easier for cleanup.  Heck if I'm really feeling lazy the skillet becomes the plate too :)

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Meal ideas.  Use these as a springboard and experiment to find your own favorite variations.

Fats: My diet is very high in fat and I opt for fats that have a healthy ratio of Omega-3:6.  So in addition to the fat in meat (I never trim or drain meat) I eat lots of Kerry Gold pastured butter, coconut oil, and lard from pastured pigs.  With the exception of small amounts of salad dressing, I haven't eaten vegetable oils in months and don't plan to.

Grass Fed Beef: This is what I eat most of and it's usually ground beef, which is easy to work with and cheaper too.  Yeah I sometimes get roasts or steaks but day in and day out it's hamburger that I eat.  Sometimes I make an entire meal of it plain, but often I stir fry with vegetables.  Sometimes I make paleo balls which are great for snacking and on the go.  I've also made meat loaf but really - it's much simpler to just cook it on the stove. I also use it in soups, adding bite size chunks of ground beef (or left over roast) to my favorite vegetables with enough liquid to make it soupy.  Oh and I also eat a fair amount of liver, which is very nutrient dense. I typically mix it in with ground beef and eat them together.

Poultry:  Love fried chicken, and I just eliminate the flour coating.  I also occasionally roast a chicken, saving the carcass to make soup later.  If if get chicken breasts I cut them up and stir fry with vegetables.

Pork, fish and other meats:  Don't eat a lot of this stuff so I'm grouping all together.  Pork is usually eaten in the form of bacon and sausage, which I sometimes eat with eggs.  I also chop it up to add to other meats for extra flavor and variety.  I rarely eat fish and seafood (hard to get the good stuff here in Ohio) but when I do it's baked or grilled. Unless I'm making shrimp soup which is lots of shrimp, a little diced potato and coconut milk.

Eggs: I like to eat eggs by themselves, but I also often stir fry them with vegetables and bacon (or sausage) to make a hearty meal.  As an alternative, sometimes I scramble together raw eggs, chopped bacon or sausage, and vegetables, then bake them in a small iron skillet.  This makes a really yummy crustless quiche-like thing that can be eaten hot or taken along to have at room temperature later. Boiled eggs are also convenient on-the-go food and I always have a few in the fridge.

Vegetables: I would never have an all vegetarian meal!  Vegetables are a side dish - an addition to meat which is the star.  I prefer low carb vegetables and I'm fine with either cooked or raw.  In the winter I tend to do more soups and stews while in the summer I eat more salads and raw veggies.  I rarely eat starchy vegetables like potatoes because I feel better without them.  Oh and I always add lots of butter!

Fruits:  I like to eat fruits in season, and if I'm going to have a snack this is probably what I'll go for.  Like last fall I was eating apples and come summer I'll probably hit the strawberries pretty hard.  Except for my blueberry craziness of late, I'm not a fruit fiend so a few fruits a week is plenty.

Nuts: I'm not a huge nut eater but every once in a while I'll have some.  I made this rule though that I can only eat nuts in the shell.  My thinking is that it's easy to mindlessly eat an entire bag of shelled nuts but if I have to work for them I won't eat so many.

Ok that's it.  The key is to understand that paleo living = cooking real food.  If you're used to fixing stuff out of a box or getting carry-out, converting to actual cooking may be the biggest adjustment of all.

Here's to your health :)




2 comments:

  1. Great breakdown of the diet! Thanks Maria! It really helped me a lot. I had been trying to wrap my brain around it but it was just too much information for me right now. Great synopsis! Seriously, a great big huge thank you from me to you. HugZ!

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