Hello friends! I have tons of things I want to write about swimming around in my head, but this one is the most interesting to me right now, for a couple of reasons. And the first reason has to do with my sister (sorry for talking about you but I think this is important!). She has tried eating paleo (more than once I believe), and has not had the kind of success I hoped she would have. She was recording everything she was eating on My Fitness Pal, and I had a look at a week of her diet. I noticed that her carb consumption was really high, at around 30-50% of her total calories. So to me, that was an simple fix. Excess carb intake is easily the most important thing to eliminate when you want to improve your diet. She was eating WAY to much fruit, and as you know fruit contains glucose which spikes blood sugar… and excess glucose is eventually stored as fat. And that is how you gain weight. So I told her she needed to raise her fat intake and lower her carb/fruit intake.
So she tried following my advice for a week or so… but the next time I talked her she told me she just couldn’t follow through with my advice. Of course I was curious as to why she felt this way. She told me she just didn’t have the stomach for it. She was miserable, felt nausea all the time, and felt like the food was just unappetizing. So the first thing I thought was “that’s the paleo flu!!”, and I wanted so bad to tell her to stick it out for a couple of weeks… but I resisted the urge. I remembered that she just doesn’t really like meat that much. She eats chicken and turkey and some seafood, but most pork and beef is absent from her plate. I realized that although I truly believe humans are meant to be omnivores, it’s common sense that some people just aren’t going to like the main foods in the paleo diet. And for that reason I realized that maybe this diet just isn’t for her. Some diets aren’t going to work for everyone. Although that causes me great pain, I have accepted it. So that is where the topic of this post comes in.
-This would actually be paleo if you removed the bun–
So as I was examining my sister’s diet, we started to make a list of potential foods she could be eating to increase her fats and reduce her carbs (planning is the most important factor in eating well by the way). I realized that many of the delicious foods I was suggesting just did not compute with her palate. So I began to think about that some more. If this is THE DIET for humans, what should we do when we realize we just don’t like some of the paleo foods? What if bacon just makes you sick (yeah right. Like that would ever happen).
-Bacon is best. The end-
Every person is different, and every person develops their own palate over the course of decades. So I started to make a list for you all. The reason this list isn’t really for me is because I love all foods. Except cauliflower. That stuff is VILE.
Anyways, this list is composed of my absolute favourite paleo staples, including the reasons why I love them. These are things I almost always have on hand to ensure I can make a delicious paleo meal at any time. And don’t worry friends… I am well aware that you can’t make a meal out of coconut oil and almonds. These are just paleo staples, not paleo meals. I will do my best to post tons of awesome paleo meals as well! What I am hoping for is to show you that there are some amazing ingredients in this diet that can inspire some beautiful meals! Make sure to let me know what paleo staples YOU love.
These beauties represent all that is perfect about paleo. When talking about eggs, I have to mention how sorry I am about the bad rap they have gotten in previous years. This relates directly to the crazy doctors who preached (and still preach) about the benefits of the standard american diet. Doctors warned us about the dangers of eating too many eggs… stating they would give us high cholesterol which would eventually lead to heart disease. They said that since eggs contain 5 grams of fat, they would make us fat. So people got scared of eggs, and in particular they got scared of egg yolks since the yolks contain most of the calories. This is a tragedy. I will get further into this topic in future posts, but suffice to say that cholesterol in food is not exactly related to cholesterol in our bodies as doctors once thought. Egg yolks are NOT bad for us! One 70 calorie egg contains 5g of fat, 6g of protein, and less than 1g of carbs. This is a near perfect ratio of 63% fat, 35% protein, and 2% carbs. Beauty!
-The most important meeting of all time-
If you google paleo, I have no doubt that you will routinely come across this amazing representation of perfection. There is a reason why some people refer to bacon as “meat candy”. I can’t think of many people who don’t like bacon. Don’t you think there is a reason why humans love certain foods? I do. And bacon is no exception. It has even more satiating fat than eggs, keeping us fuller for longer, and just enough protein to make it as good (or better) than eggs. One ounce of bacon (about 2-3 slices) contains 150 calories, 12g of fat, 10g of protein, and less than 1g of carbs. This is again a near-perfect ratio of 71% fat, 28% protein, and 1% carbs. UUUUUHMAZING!
If you are like me, you have been taught that avocados are full of healthy fats. But you have also been taught that you should be avoid eating too much avocado, since they are very calorie-dense. This is quite true, but we need to remember to be critical thinkers. Calorie-dense does not always mean dangerous. We also need to remember that GOOD calories are safe. And avocados are full of those good calories. I love adding them to meals like burgers (without the bun of course) and omelets. They are even great as a side dish to up your fat content! The only drawback to them is that they tend to go bad fast. I can’t tell you how many avocado halves I’ve thrown out because I didn’t eat them right away. Boo! Each avocado has about 230 calories (give or take depending on size), with 21g of fat, 3g of protein, and 12g of carbs. I know that is a lot of carbs, but don’t panic my friends. They also have 10g of fiber. Since fiber has little to no effect on blood sugar, you can subtract the amount of fiber from the carb count. This means each avocado has about 2g of “net” carbs. What does this mean for our ratios? Relax. I will do the math for you. The resulting macro nutrient ratios are 81% fat, 5% protein, and 14% carbs. When you eliminate the 10g of fibre, avocados become another wonderful paleo food that we all need to be eating.
-If your avocado is too ripe, even the mighty iPhone charger is too little-
4) Full fat cheese
Have you come to terms with the term “fat” yet? Are you no longer scared of that word? Good. That makes me incredibly happy. When I talk about “full fat” cheese, I am referring to anything other than that crap that is “skim milk” cheese or “reduced fat”. When you are shopping for cheese, look for the absolute highest amount of milk fat content. Are you lactose sensitive? Worry not. The fermentation process (which is simply adding bacteria, which feeds on the lactose) of several different cheeses (like cheddar and swiss) results in the cheese being almost carb-free and lactose-free. I won’t list all of the different macronutrients of the different cheeses, but I will say that cheese is on my daily list of must-haves! Here are a couple of links to very reputable sources of health information regarding cheese. Mark’s Daily Apple is a leading authority on the paleo diet, and I often reference his page when I need information.
GHAAAASP!!! Butter?!?!? I must be kidding right? How in the world can butter possibly be healthy, when all you have EVER heard is that butter will clog your arteries? I will tell you how. Do me a favour. Forget about everything you have been told about butter (and by the way, I am talking about butter, NOT margarine). Now just think about the nutrition information of butter. One tablespoon of butter has 110 calories and 12g of fat. It has almost no protein and no carbs. So now that we are no longer worried about saturated fat “clogging” our arteries (if you still are, then stay tuned and I will convince you in a future post), then tell me… what else do we have to worry about when eating butter? Nothing! Butter is an amazing addition to your diet, especially when you are trying to increase your fat intake. Butter is a great source of vitamins E, A, D, and K, as well as iodine. Butter also tastes incredible, and makes vegetables much easier to eat. It’s a win-win!
-I’m pretty sure that isn’t real butter-
6) Coconut oil
This stuff is perfection in a jar. It’s superior to olive oil because it stays stable at high temperatures, which is something olive oil does not do. That means you can use coconut oil to cook almost anything, and it won’t burn. There are tons of things scientists say that can be dangerous when you heat oils past their “smoke points”, but I won’t get into that right now.
6b) Ghee (clarified butter)
I have ghee as 6b because the reason I love it is pretty much the same as coconut oil. Ghee is essentially butter that has had all of the water and milk solids removed, leaving only the butter fat. Ghee is also awesome for cooking at high temperatures too. I use ghee and coconut oil interchangeably, depending on the flavour I am looking for. Coconut oil produces a slightly sweet flavour, and ghee produces a more savoury, rich flavour. Ghee smells SO GOOD when you are cooking up a stir fry. Ghee stays fresh for a long time in the cupboard, as long as it’s stored in a sealed container. The only drawback of ghee is that it kind of looks gross. But get over that!
-It does looks kinda gross right?-
7) Chicken Thighs
Yes, I sais thighs. Not breasts. Chicken thighs are the far superior cut, for several reasons. First of all, thighs are significantly less desired by the general population, and they are therefore cheaper. This pisses me off because I want everyone in the world to realize thighs are better…but at the same time it makes me happy because they are cheaper and there are more available for me! So thighs are cheaper, and they contain more fat. I don’t have to tell you why that is good do I? Thighs are also WAY easier to cook. You just can’t screw them up. A certain friend has told me that I make the best chicken thighs he has ever had. Want to know my secret? They are not breasts. That’s it. I hope he is not mad at me for revealing that I don’t have some secret method. Thighs also taste better than breasts. How can you ignore that??
-Chicken legs are amazing too. And dangerous-
8) Almonds, cashews, and pecans
Everyone knows that nuts contain healthy fats. But they also contain protein, and that perfect combination means nuts can be a great snack that will keep you full much longer than that sugar-filled granola bar. I know that plain almonds can be boring. But there are so many ways you can change that! Recently I made a batch of roasted mixed nuts, coated with olive oil and different spices. It was delicious. I always have these in my cupboard.
9) Salsa, Frank’s Red Hot, and mustard
I have always been a slave to sauces. I hate dry food, and I love slathering my food with ketchup, BBQ sauce, and other high-sugar crap. So one of my struggles has been finding a suitable replacement for all of these sauces. Enter these three beauties. They are all very low calorie (if you find the right one), and can add a ton of flavour too. Salsa is basically just vegetables in a jar. I love putting salsa on my omelet in the morning. Mustard is a super low-calorie condiment, just like salsa. The awesome thing about mustard is that there are so many different varieties. You just have to make sure that you always read the labels and avoid any added sugars. As for Frank’s Red Hot …if you want to add some low-calorie heat to your food then look no further. I am a total wuss when it comes to spicy food, but Frank’s is juuuuust enough heat to be tolerable for me.
-Anything hotter than Frank’s… and this is me-
That concludes my list. There are so many more paleo foods that I love, but I had to keep the list short enough to make sure you will actually read it. And I am getting tired after several hours of typing. One more thing that I want to mention is that I have recently started eating most of my food in the organic variety. I am going to make a post soon about why I decided to do that, but the main reason is that I hate consuming chemicals and preservatives. There are so many more reasons why I eat organic foods, but that will be discussed on a later date. So I hope this list motivates you to go out and try some paleo foods!
“Eat less sugar. You’re sweet enough already”