Dairy

I’ve been reading through a few various sources.  The Paleo Solution and It Starts With Food, to name 2 of them.  I highly recommend these 2 books if you want to dig a little deeper into the whole Paleo thing.  Don’t just take my word for it. I just encourage you to research this more on your own. Do a little digging yourself.  Become educated on how, why, and what you eat.

Dairy (cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk. water buffalo milk). It consists of protein, carbohydrate (lactose), fat, and calcium. It is meant for growth.  We have all heard that dairy is a major part of a well-balanced diet.  You need to drink your milk in order to have strong bones, and so on and so forth.  So why does Paleo kick out the dairy? 

First of all, you need a plethora of vitamins and minerals for bone growth, not just calcium.  Calcium, in addition to, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, magnesium, and phosphorus.  They’re all important, not just the calcium.  Other sources of calcium include, but are not limited to, fish and green leafy vegetables. 

Secondly, dairy has the ability to cause inflammation in the gut.  This can affect digestion as well as cause a more systemic immune response. Studies are being done on how dairy has been linked to asthma, lupus, allergies, arthritis, psoriasis, and other immune disorders. Dairy has also been known to exacerbate the symptoms of celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine).  Another aspect of the inflammatory response has to do with amino acids (what make up protein).  Animal milk contains lactose, which is a simple sugar.  In order to digest lactose, our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase.  When we are babies, we have an overabundance of lactase in our bodies, but as we grow older, those lactase levels decrease significantly.  Thus, as we age, milk is not able to be broken down properly through digestion, leaving undigested amino acids floating around.  These amino acids also have the potential to affect the immune response.  An overactive immune system is no good.  These reactions clearly are not the case with every individual.  Just making you aware that dairy does have the potential to cause some pretty undesirable results.

Thirdly, dairy insulin levels.  Insulin is normally produced in the body.  nbd.  However, with milk, the protein and carbohydrate (lactose) combo is responsible for a significant increase in insulin release.  Lots and lots and lots of insulin. When the insulin levels spike, the body has some difficulty in releasing some of the energy already stored as fat.  The body then decides that it needs more energy, thus stimulating hunger.  Fat stores then begin to grow, but the body still thinks it needs more energy (food).  Basically, your body keeps telling you to eat and eat and eat.  Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole milk…all affect insulin similarly.  Cream and butter do not affect insulin levels in that way (they are full fats).  In short, insulin spikes should be avoided.  This keeps your body regulated as well as gives you a more desirable body composition. 

My suggestion, strict paleo for 30 days, then figure out if you want/need to modify.  Try 30 days without the dairy, then if need be, consider reintroducing it.  I have fairly severe allergies.  Taking dairy out for the 30 days was a good test on whether or not I have a dairy allergy.  Upon reintroducing dairy into my diet, the test was negative.  I am not allergic to the dairy.  If you have allergies, a 30 day Paleo challenge is a great test to see if you have food allergies.  If you have frequent gut aches, maybe they are from dairy?  It’s only 30 days.  Try dairy-free.  

For me, I choose not to have milk.  I stick to unsweetened coconut milk.  Almond milk is also quite delicious.  I would recommend the unsweetened.  With the flavored non-dairy milks, you will typically find evaporated cane juice/sugar.  While this is a natural sugar, it’s still sugar.  This should be consumed sparingly.  I also allow myself to have cheese, maybe 1-3 servings a week.  As mentioned earlier, it’s the milk that causes the insulin spikes, not the cheese.  When I do eat cheese, I stick to the good stuff.  Cheddar, gouda, blue, feta, swiss.  Toss out those Kraft singles.  You won’t be needing those anymore.  Also, I’m not afraid of butter.  It’s a good fat.  Throw out the margarine.  Get rid of that garbage.  Toss out the tub with 20 blended ingredients and keep the stick that only has 1 or 2 ingredients. I also use heavy whipping cream.  Again, it’s the fat.  I use it in my coffee, soups, scrambled eggs…what have you.  Don’t be afraid of this stuff.   It’s good for you.

Cheese, wine, dark chocolate.  The Paleo purists say no, but for me, I say in moderation.

In the end, it’s all about you. Do your research.  Know what strict Paleo looks like then figure how it applies to you.  Do you do strict Paleo?  Do you modify?  How do you modify?  Talk to 10 people who eat Paleo, and I just about guarantee they will all modify their Paleo diet a little differently.  Figure out what it looks like for you.

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Double Bacon Ceasar

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Of course I was drawn to anything with the words “double bacon.” I happened to have a hearty flank steak in the fridge so I decided to do double bacon grilled steak ceasar salads.

Dressing ingredients:
Bacon fat
Egg yolk
Lemon juice
Garlic
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Worcestershire sauce
Anchovy paste (I didn’t have any of this delicacy on hand so I had to leave it out.)
S&P

I placed a large bed of lettuce down, then a few pieces of grilled steak, then dressing, then crumbled bacon. I think this was perhaps one of the best meals I have had in a very long time. The dressing is pretty phenomenal. It tastes just like Ceasar dressing….but clean and guilt-free.

To try this goodness yourself, follow the recipe HERE.

Happy eating!

Unrolled Cabbage Roll

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I do love cabbage rolls. I was a CNA at a nursing home for a couple years during college. This is when I truly learned to appreciate the cabbage roll.

This recipe really caught my eye. Beef, pork, some spices and stuff, some homemade tomato sauce, and some cabbage. Super easy. I used red cabbage instead of green because that’s what was on sale. Added a little fun to the dish. The spices were fun too. Paprika, cinnamon, coconut sugar, garlic, and then some.

I will make this again. Plenty of leftovers and reheats quite nicely. I suggest giving it a chance. Cabbage isn’t that scary.

Recipe can be found HERE.

Mostly, But Not Entirely Paleo Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

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This is pretty incredible. Totally grain-free and I wouldn’t have known it. This recipe is entirely paleo, except for the cream cheese. Had a friend over who loves cheesecake so I thought I’d try it out. The consensus was that this recipe is definitely a win.

For the brownie part, mix up some almond butter (quite a bit actually…1 cup), eggs, cocoa, canned coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt, dark chocolate chips. I dumped that into an 8×8.

For the cream cheese, blend together cream cheese, an egg, coconut sugar, and some vanilla.

Drop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture onto the brownies batter then take a knife and swirl the cheesecake batter into the brownie batter. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes…or until the top has cracked. Let it cool, then dig in.

Warning:This pan of brownies won’t last long.

I typically stick to paleo, but decided to post a slight cheat recipes since it’s so good. Pretty sure my Paleo-free husband will finish off the rest of the pan.

You can find the recipes HERE.

Banana Ice Cream

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There are many recipes for Paleo ice cream out on the Internets.  I have had my eye on this recipe for awhile; thought I’d give it a whirl.

3 ingredients:
bananas
coconut milk
vanilla 

1. Peel the bananas, wrap them in plastic wrap, throw them into the freezer until they’re frozen solid.  Health-Bent recommends at least 5 hours.  I left mine in there for 3 days.  That works as well.

2. Once the bananas are frozen, put them into a food processor (I have a small food processor so I used my blender) along with the other 2 ingredients.

3. Blend up that business.

4. Eat it up. Sharing optional.

I put the leftovers in a mason jar and stuck that in the freezer.  When you’re ready to have more ice cream, take it out for a little bit so it’s easier to eat.

This recipe is pretty ridicoulously awesome.  The best part is that there isn’t any added sugar.  The bananas make the ice cream perfectly sweet.  I have been known to buy So Delicious coconut ice cream, but this homemade ice cream is cheaper as well as healthier. 

There are many variations to this recipe.  Andrea posted a similar recipe onto my Facebook page which included strawberries.  I may add some chocolate protein powder  next time, that way I can say “Yeah, that was a tough workout today.  I’m gonna go home and have some post-workout protein ice cream.”  That just sounds awesome.

You, too, can enjoy this guilt-free ice cream by using THIS recipe.

 

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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 I was craving something sweet last night like something fierce.  Turns out Health-Bent has a recipe for that. These little gems hit the spot.  The recipe is actually called Paleo Chocolate Chip Bakies because they’re not really a cookie, but more kind of cookie-like.  With the banana as a main ingredient, I’d compare them to a banana bread cookie. Whatever they are, they’re pretty delicious.

almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
bananas
dark chocolate chips
almond butter
coconut sugar (optional)
vanilla
baking soda
salt

Mix everything but the almond flour and dark chocolate chips then add the flour and choc chips at the end.  Once all that business is well-blended, bake at 350ºF for 11 minutes (it was closer to 13 for me).  They really do stick to the pan/baking stone quite a bit, so be mindful of that. 

You can make these by using THIS recipe.

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Nachos

nachosLast night, I was jonesin’ for something kinda Paleo, kinda not. Then I remembered seeing a nachos recipe on the Health-Bent website.

Bottom layer was sweet potato and beet chips. Next, beef/sausage mixture. Then, sauteed green… peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Finally, I added a sprinkle of cheese which was completely unnecessary but seemed like an ok idea. The recipe includes recipes for homemade guacamole as well as salsa to put on top of the nachos. Hoping to make the salsa one of these days.

As the recipe says, it’s more of a cheat than a paleo snack, but if you’re looking for something that’s corn-free, grain-free, check it out. A healthy cheat perhaps?

Recipe HERE.

Pizza Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

IMAG2140If you loved the butternut squash lasagna, you’ll dig this one too.  I am always drawn to the recipes that make me think huh…that’s an interesting combination.

The rules are simple.  Bake a sweet potato. Add some sauce.  Add some meat.  Add some vegetables.  Bake it again.  Grab a fork.  Eat it up.

As mentioned in the recipe, oven roasted sweet potatoes are best.  Sweeter flavor.  I agree with that.  However, to expidite the cooking process, I used a baked potato bag for the microwave.  Genius.  I love that thing.

Oftentimes I make my own meat and tomato sauce, but this time I decided to “cheat” and use store bought.  I found some really good pizza sauce, no sugar added, just tomatoes and spices.  As far as toppings, I browned a combination of beef/sausage. For veggies, I sauteed some mushrooms, onions, peppers, and garlic. I pretty much followed the recipe.  Added a few sliced olives on top as well as a little parmesan cheese.  I know, PALEO POLICE.  Note: watch out for the lid of the olive can…there WILL be sharp edges if you don’t have a fancy can opener. Also, if you slice the side of your thumb, there WILL be blood.  Just throwing that out there.   

I also made a sweet potato pizza for my husband.  For his I added sauce, beef/sausage mixture, pepperoni, and cheese.  I sent it to work with him last night.  He has not given me a review on it yet.  I’m sure he loved it.

You can make this by using the recipe HERE.

Note: our puppy dog wanted to help.  As you can see, his snout approves of this recipe.

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Red Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

IMAG2134I met a friend at a new Thai place in town a few weeks ago and have been craving curry ever since.  The coconut milk, the curry flavor… I really love curry a lot.  It reminds me of my college days.  Every so often, a big group of us would get together and make elaborate curry-filled meals.  

There are many many many paleo-friendly curry recipes on the Internets.  The day that I made this, I had worked a short 12 hour shift and was exhausted.  I browsed through a handful of different recipes until I found one that A. I had all of the ingredients for and 2. was super simple.

coconut oil
chicken
curry paste
coconut milk
vegetables

As far as vegetables, I added peppers, onions, carrots, and peppers.  I also added some peas, but no need to call the Paleo police.  I happened to have some on hand so I threw them in there. 

Really ridiculously simple.  When I have more time I will make something more complex and delicious, but for now, spot was hit.  There are many Paleo curry variations.  This is just a simple Paleo curry base for you to start with. Experiment a little. Really, the sky is the limit.  Ginger, garlic, spinach, eggs, sweet potato, peppers…add it.  What do you like in your favorite curry dish?

Curry warms the soul….and cleans out the sinuses. 

You can find this recipe HERE.

Spinach

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Eat more of it.

I really could end this post right there.  Let me explain why spinach is so great.  Look at Popeye.  Whenever he cracks open a can (I recommend buying stuff a little fresher), BOOM, superhuman strength.  He’s definitely on to something.

In the first of MANY nutrition classes that I took on college, I learned that the foods that have the deepest, richest, most vibrant colors are packed with all the good stuff.  Eggplant, broccoli, blueberries, spinach, beets…nutrients.  This post is about the spinach.  Eat it fresh.  Steam it.  Boil it.  Doesn’t matter.  It is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, Folate…and I could go on and on and on.   Spinach is also one great way to get you some calcium.  Spinach is a green, leafy vegetable, so it is rich in iron (Fe) as well.  According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of boiled spinach contains 6.43 mg of Fe whereas an 80% lean meat beef patty contains 2.11 mg of Fe.  Just something to think about.

I shoot for having a handful of spinach with at least 2 meals a day.  For work, sometimes I will throw some spinach in a bag and eat it raw in the ambulance.  Most mornings, I cook some eggs over-medium then break the yolk over a bed of spinach.  Many different ways to incoroporate spinach into your meals.

Try adding some spinach to your cooking this week.  Green-up your plate in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.