Where most people go wrong
The stumbling blocks for most people happen in the first half of the day. "That was the biggest complaint from my clients," Diana Rodgers, a holistic nutritionist, told Yahoo! Shine. "'[They] don't know what to do for breakfast and lunch. Many people eat Paleo for dinner and don't even know it. But seldom do they eat Paleo for breakfast and lunch because we're so used to cereal and sandwiches as our go-tos." Rodgers designed a cookbook, "Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go," to solve those problems, with Paleo recipes that can be tossed in your bag and eaten at your desk.
So...what is the Paleo diet?
"The idea is eating the most nutrient dense foods that have the least amount of irritation on our system," explained Rodgers. "If you look at the Standard American Diet, it's cutting out sugar, processed foods, and grains. The main focus is really meats––preferably grass fed, naturally raised––vegetables, some nuts, and healthy fats, like butter, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil."
But is the Paleo diet just South Beach or Atkins dressed up in a loincloth? "It sounds a lot like Atkins and South Beach, but those diets don't address food intolerances and sticking with natural foods. They have Atkins bars and things like that. This is cutting all that out."
Paleo principles for the rest of us
The focus on whole, natural ingredients makes many aspects of the Paleo diet appealing, even if you're not ready to start eating like the Venus of Willendorf. Rodgers is an advocate of cutting out gluten and sugar which she says will make a huge difference in how people feel. But she emphasizes that the most successful way of eating shouldn't feel restrictive; it's just a matter of switching up some of our habits and thought patterns. Instead of rest stops with gas stations, she hits up grocery stores for rotisserie chicken, salad bars, and hard-boiled eggs. She drives by McDonald's but pulls up at Chipotle. Mostly, though, she relies on a little foresight, packing snacks and portable recipes. "I like switching the mindset. I don't want people to feel sorry that they can't have that pizza or cupcake or beer, but to be happy that they're giving their body the nutrient-dense foods that make them feel so amazing."
BACON, LEMON, AND GREENS EGG MUFFINS
Makes 12 Regular-sized muffins
The egg muffin might be the secret weapon of any successful Paleo person, as Rodgers's trainer once told her, but they're also a perfect protein-packed way for anyone to get the morning going. Bake once, eat all week.
2 tbsp (30 ml) of fat from the bacon (or coconut oil)
½ onion, minced
4 leaves of Swiss chard (or spinach or kale), diced pretty small
¼ cup (60 ml) coconut milk
2 tbsp (16 g) of coconut flour
1 lemon, grated rind and juice
5 slices of bacon, diced
½ tsp pepper
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) and grease muffin tin with about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of coconut oil or bacon fat. In a skillet over medium heat, warm the rest of the bacon fat or coconut oil. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the Swiss chard and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, coconut milk and coconut flour. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and mix. Pour egg batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the centers look set. Remove from the oven and cool. Store in the refrigerator.
WILD TUNA, ORANGE, AND PARSLEY SALAD
Makes 2 lunch servings
"I’d pay big money to eat this salad at a restaurant," says Rodgers. "This dish stays crunchy over time and delivers sweet and slightly salty flavors from the oranges and capers."
2 5-oz (140 g) cans of wild tuna (I prefer the tuna packed in olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced small
¼ red onion, diced small
2 red radishes, matchsticked
4 tbsp (35 g) capers, rinsed
2 oranges, peeled, sectioned and diced
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine vinegar
pepper to taste
Simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Makes about 1 quart (800 g) of salad. If packing for the office, you can take it as is. Just refrigerate until you’re ready to have lunch.
CHICKEN, VEGETABLE, AND AVOCADO SOUP
Makes about 4 servings
"This comforting soup actually has two versions: The basic recipe is for the kids and the adult recipe has some additional veggies and heat. The result is a happy family, with everyone getting a hearty and satisfying meal."
1 tbsp (14 g) coconut oil or ghee
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (4 g) dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 ½ quarts (1.5 liters) chicken broth (homemade, see page 156)
2 cups (280 g) shredded chicken meat from a roasted bird
4 tbsp (8 g) fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Add-ons for the spicy version:
4 cups (360 g) baby bok choy, diced
2 tbsp (28 g) coconut oil
1 tbsp (15 ml) sriracha (more or less depending on your taste)
2 scallions, diced
Handful of cilantro, diced
1 avocado, diced
In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes, and then add the bay leaf, carrots and celery. Cook for another 5 or so minutes then add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chicken, parsley, and salt and pepper for about 5 minutes and you’re done.
To make a second version for the adults, saute. the bok choy in the coconut oil in a separate pan until wilted. Add the hot sauce, scallions and cilantro. Dish out the original soup mix for everyone, and then top off the “big people” bowls with half of the bok choy mixture. Top with ¼ to ½ avocado per dish.