November 12, 2013

What is This Paleo Thing? Take 1

I put on a pair of comfy jeans on Friday. They wriggled around my waist and sagged at my butt. Hmpf. That night, I pulled them off without unbuttoning them. Wow, I guess I am smaller.

I started following a Paleolithic lifestyle in August because I wanted to be healthier, to eat healthier. I figured out I have a gluten intolerance by accident but now that I know, it has changed everything. I do not own a scale, so I cannot tell you how much weight I’ve lost. However, I found my hipbones and I like to be naked, so there you are. The weight loss wasn’t intentional; it just happened. I have not counted calories. Instead, I carefully select what I am eating at every meal and I stop eating when I feel full. I eat every time I am hungry and ONLY when I’m hungry. Often we think we are hungry when we are really thirsty. I drink at least 48 oz of water every day.

The Paleo lifestyle is inherently gluten free because you avoid all grains (including wheat and gluten). No rice, no corn, no oats either. I do make rare exceptions for fresh corn and I do have ‘emergency gluten free chicken strips’ in my freezer for last minute meals. It has been 3 months and my tummy is very thankful for the rest from the inflammation caused by grains.

More than anything, I am asked over and over again what I eat. I am asked for simple recipes and resources. I aim to please and love to talk, so sit back. Here we go.


Homemade trail mix is a staple for me. I keep all of the following on hand: raw almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, dried banana/mango/pineapple/cranberries/apricots, soybeans, sunflower seeds, pepitas, raisins, and dates. [I buy raw, unsalted, and not ‘sugared’.] Mix and match, but try to remember that fruit is blessed with natural sugars, so too much sugar is still too much sugar. That won’t be kind to your behind. If you’re feeling very naughty then Enjoy Life makes great Paleo-friendly chocolate chips, but I don’t put them in my trail mix because I don’t want to eat them daily. I can’t have discipline if I’m feeding my face chocolate.

Modified food starch is a huge gluten no-no if you’re intolerant. It usually hides in yogurt and cottage cheese. Dairy isn't Paleo but because it doesn't bother my tummy, I enjoy dairy sometimes. Chobani strawberry yogurt is gluten free.  So is the vanilla.  It’s delicious plain or topped with my trail mix. 

I make banana ‘pancakes’ every weekend. They couldn’t be easier and have the exact consistency of oatmeal (they do not come out flat and round). Combine 1 ripe banana (any size) with 1 egg (any size) and whip it together. Add a pinch of baking soda and a drop of vanilla. Prepare as you would scrambled eggs (I use coconut oil in the pan), flipping like you would a pancake. Top with nuts and seeds.

Enjoy Life brand has great gluten-free granola, however it is not Paleo. It has rice in it and I reserve it for when I am craving a huge crunch. Just a tablespoon is great overtop banana pancakes or yogurt, but I have this less than once a week.

I miss the crunch of cereal swimming in ice cold milk and have, so far, lacked the time to make some homemade Paleo ‘cereal.’  Instead God blessed me with Amazon and I found Paleo People’s Cacao Nut clusters. It is gluten free, crunchy, and DELICIOUS in milk.

Terra chips are Paleo-friendly and gluten free. We love the Mediterranean flavor. The kids and Bryon always steal them from me.


I cook with coconut oil or ghee almost exclusively. Even Hubby has started sauteing mushrooms with my good stuff. I’ve also saved bacon grease in the fridge to use when browning meat.

My favorite breakfast is a turkey stick and boiled eggs, or a turkey stick and wedge of colby cheese. I try to have protein with every breakfast because it slows the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, providing a nice even blood sugar level all morning.  

I use agave nectar (light) to sweeten my coffee and tea.

An apple with almond butter is a great snack or occasional breakfast. I love Justin’s brand, maple flavor. We also have a cashew butter that is made by Jif. Trevor and Bryon love that one.

Squash is my best friend. Butternut, spaghetti, acorn, yellow, and zucchini are very flexible ingredients. They sauté quickly and they crisp in the oven. I top them with meat marinara when they're having spaghetti or a homemade alfredo sauce when I’m craving it. Butternut is particularly fabulous cubed and baked with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Sweet potatoes are great after exercise and we eat them with steak. I do make red potatoes every now and then. They are high in carbs and offer very little nutritionally, so it is a real splurge. I probably have potatoes only once per week. 

The main concentration of a Paleolithic diet is lean meat. We bring home lean burger, non-GMO/grain-fed chicken (from Target!), turkey bacon, chicken & apple sausage, pork, and beef. I stay away from preservatives in the sausage, too, which means that I hunt through the organic/health food section to find the good-for-you stuff. It is worth an extra $1. My goal for the fridge is to always have a meat thawed and fresh, ready to cook – and another as leftover at all times.  

Oh, pizza. I missed it hard, you guys. So I searched Pinterest and now have a favorite recipe that is super easy. I use 2 tbsp coconut flour, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 egg, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese – mixed to form a ‘dough’ and then flatted on parchment paper to prebake in the oven at 425 for about 10 minutes.  Then I top with Classico pizza sauce (it’s gluten free), whatever I have on hand (including that leftover meat) and my eyes roll back in my head.  

Every week we stock up high in veggies and every week the fridge is emptied OUT. We buy romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, mushrooms, peppers, sprouts, avocados, tomatoes, celery, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, carrots, grapes, bananas, apples, and berries. There are MANY meals made without a starch side for the kids nowadays. They’ve adapted by feeding their faces with veggies and I don’t feel one bit bad about that.

Sauces hide gluten. Yes, it’s sad. But they do and they will haunt your dreams if you’re gluten free like me.  I *have* found some exceptions that are brand specific (no generics):
A1 steak sauce (original)
Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce (original)
Kikoman gluten-free soy sauce (blue label)
Stubb’s barbeque sauce (original)
Hellman’s mayonnaise (original)
Frank’s Red Hot sauce
Heinz Ketchup
Pure honey (any brand, but 100% pure with no other ingredients)

I learned how to make homemade ranch dressing for veggies and hot wings. It’s nothing more than Hellman’s mayo, Daisy light sour cream, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and tons of fresh herbs like dill and parsley. Stay away from packets of anything. Use fresh or dried herbs to season your meat and veggies.

I eat nothing breaded or fried. Nothing covered in a sauce I didn't make myself. If we eat out, I order from the gluten free menu or adjust to a cheeseburger, minus the bun and condiments. I also haven't had pop in months.

If you haven’t figured out by now, most of what I can eat is homemade. Like, ‘from scratch.’ Good thing I love to cook from scratch. My granny Bertha would be pleased. If you've ever read a nutritional label, you know that most everything that is packaged hides preservatives, empty calories, and (in terms of gluten intolerance) flour to prevent sticking. No bueno. Grilled chicken breasts are great examples of this – if you eat out and are GF you MUST ask if the grilled (and seemingly innocent) chicken breast is fresh or frozen. 99% of frozen chicken breasts are dusted with flour to prevent them from sticking together in the box. You'll be sorry you didn't ask.

I’ve successfully made both tomato soup and chicken and vegetable soup that were both totally amazing, husband and kid-approved. I use an organic, gluten free chicken stock and fresh vegetables. It does take time in the kitchen and I find cooking therapeutic. I love it. And the girls LOVE to help me.

For my body, this lifestyle diet is best. It may not work for everyone, but I feel healthier than I have in over 20 years. I can think more clearly and I look much better naked. I don’t go to bed bloated or with a bellyache anymore. My clothes fit better and even my skin is clearer. My hair is shiny! Gluten makes dough stick together, but my insides, my skin, my everything was sludgy and sticky. The difference is measurable and I feel so grateful for this intolerance, honestly. I literally unstuck myself. Grains are SO HARD to digest that I truly think most people could benefit from cutting them out.

If you're interested, don’t be afraid to try Paleo. It's not all or nothing and nobody is going to arrest you if you eat dairy. The only way to stick to something for life is to customize it a bit. That being said, please remember that gluten free cupcakes are still cupcakes. Gluten free pancakes and cake mix are still pancakes and cake mix. The entire point of eating healthier is to do just that, not find exceptions for treats. 

Unlike fad diets, there is nothing Paleo can do to hurt you. It is lean meat, veggies, and fruit. There is no deficiency that you will create that will require bread or flour. In fact, you’ll likely be healthier than you’ve ever been. Paleo is not like Atkins or South Beach, where you need vitamins and lots of water to prevent health problems - - but it *IS* like Atkins and South Beach in that you are training your metabolism to burn fat stores instead of empty carbs you’re eating, because you’re not eating them anymore. And drinking enough water tells your body not to store it to prevent dehydration. The body is amazing! I love mine again. 

If you're interested, this is the article that I read that got my attention:

Here is another by Robb Wolf:

More posts on Paleo to come!

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