I’m grudgingly coming to the realization that just because something is “Paleo”, I don’t necessarily get to eat as much of it as I want. Portion sizes (Newsflash!) still annoyingly matter on the Paleo eating plan.
Bacon is OK, but 27 slices? No. Stir-fried shrimp and veggies? Sure! But a 5-gallon bucket of it? Not so much.
This bites, and I’m not using the word “bite” just because I’m hungry. Sometimes you hear a Paleo person blithely say, “You can have as much as you want!” but I promise, they are talking about something like raw, dressing-free kale. They’re not discussing pork-stuffed peppers, or turkey-stuffed portobello mushrooms, or salmon and mango salsa.
Why do I bring up these delicious-sounding foods, you ask? Well, I recently got into Paleo eating and bought a few Paleo cookbooks, two of which have the most drool-worthy recipes imaginable. And I went a little crazy and cooked ALL OF THEM (well: many of them, anyway), depleting the grocery budget and my energy stores, yet — due to my aversion to portion control — not depleting significant amounts of stored fat in my buttish region.
I’m joking a bit here — obviously I KNOW that calories in are still calories in, whether they come from meat or veggies or donuts. You don’t lose weight unless you burn more than you take in — I get it.
When they say “have a handful of almonds as a snack”, they mean – I suppose – the amount that fits into MY hand, not the amount that fits into my handbag. And a palm-sized portion of meat means MY palm - not, like, the dinner-plate-sized cross-section of a palm tree trunk.
It’s just that some of these foods are so TASTY, you know?
On a more serious note, I really am trying to clean up our diet at my house in a mostly Paleo/Primal way. I’m buying tons of fresh fruits and veggies (organic where possible, mostly for the dirty dozen); grass-fed organic meats and butter, unsalted nuts, and almond butter. I’m personally avoiding gluten and all grains except for oats, minimizing my dairy, and completely avoiding peanuts and all kinds of sugar. Already I feel clearer-headed and more energetic, and I’m optimistic that combined with my cross-fit workouts, eventually the healthier eating will help me lose weight too. Of course we’re not eating strictly Paleo — I’m allowing oats, a bit of dairy here and there, and “cheat” days. But we’re really emphasizing the reduction of grains and sugar, and I know it’s going to be good for all of us.
It’s not necessarily easy to get my daughter to eat Paleo, but cooking delicious things helps. Plain chicken breasts and broccoli? BORING. But she likes salmon! And the adobo pork! And the zucchini “fries”! And the lettuce wraps! Even if it takes a while to wean her off her high-carb diet into more fruits and veggies, it’s worth it.
I’ve also started having her look through the Paleo cookbooks with me and pick out things she wants to try. Of course she picked the hazelnut-coffee pancakes and the gluten-free brownies, but I gladly made them with her. I want to show her that we can make tasty, gluten-free treats too.
And she was excited to see the pictures of the moo-shoo wraps in the cookbook Primal Cravings and then have them materialize in our very own kitchen. I think that getting her involved in the selection and cooking makes her more liable to try the new foods AND to believe she’ll like them!
I’ve also a firm believer in preparing ahead. If all I have is frozen meat and raw veggies, there is no way I can whip up a quick dinner when we’re all starving. I’ve started pre-slicing veggies and fruits for easy snacking access, and preparing meals that will last for 2 dinners, or at least dinner and the next day’s lunch. That way there is always something healthy to eat so we’re less tempted to order out or eat something junky that’s still in the cupboard. And I’ve started doing weekly meal planning so I ensure that everything I need for various recipes is on hand in my kitchen.
I’m also trying to talk to my daughter about food, explaining why I think certain veggies and fruits are so good for her, and why certain other things (like chips and cookies) are not. I’m not making these things off-limits by any means, but by having more healthy snacks around I hope to change all of our eating for the better.
So the plan for now is — even if I back off the full throttle cooking machine — to continue making healthy, delicious mostly-Paleo dinners and breakfasts for my family. We won’t be 100% perfect, but we’ll hit for that magical 80% and hopefully improve our health!
If you’re interested, some of these recipes come from these two Paleo cookbooks that I bought on Amazon (brownies, stuffed peppers, pad thai, adobo pork, moo shoo wraps). Now they’re not compensating me in any way for touting their books, although if someone called me up and was all, “Hey! I see you wrote about our cookbook in a positive way! Do you want lots of money?” I’d be “Sure!” ( It hasn’t happened YET, but I can still dream. Yes?)
Paleo Cookbooks that I LOVE:
Primal Cravings: Your favorite foods made Paleo by Brandon and Megan Keatley
Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen by Julie and Charles Mayfield
If you get these cookbooks, I think you’ll enjoy the recipes as much as I do. They’re easy to prepare and SO delicious. You won’t miss the gluten or dairy (although sometimes I put a bit of cheese on top of things – I don’t mind a bit of dairy here and there.)
And one more tip: If you’re planning to photograph your Paleo meals, don’t call your family to the table and THEN say, “Oh wait just a minute! I forgot I have to take a picture of this!” and then spend 15 minutes arranging and shooting, while they sit there, shooting you more and more unhappy looks and banging on the table with their spoons, and eventually gnawing on their napkins in hunger. It does not make for a pleasant meal time.
But wherever you get your recipes, from books or from your own imagination, and whether or not you photograph your food, I hope you too are enjoying healthy, delicious meals! Be well.
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