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PALEO RECIPES FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE TO EAT
By MELISSA JOULWAN, David Humphreys
Smudge Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Melissa Joulwan
All rights reserved.
WELCOME TO WELL FED
I was born into a restaurant family.
Before you get the wrong idea, you should know a few facts: We lived in rural Pennsylvania, it was the late sixties, and no one was yet treating chefs like rock stars.
My grandfather owned The Garfield, one of those shiny chrome diners, where you could sit at the counter, sip on a bottomless cup of coffee, and wisecrack with the waitresses and other regulars. My dad ran The Country Squire Restaurant, a combination coffee shop, formal dining room, and motel.
I grew up in these restaurants and took my place in an extended family of cooks.
As a teen and young adult, I ate for pleasure, without too much concern for nutrition. Soon, even though I loved to eat and food was a major binding agent in my family, food became the enemy. I grew fat and unhealthy because I knew food, but I didn't know how to eat.
Now, because I follow a paleo diet, cooking and eating have again become a source of joy. Visualizing the meal, buying the healthy ingredients, chopping and stirring and working the alchemy that transforms ingredients into love in the form of food – these are a few of my favorite things.
My goal with this book is to teach you what I know about how to run a paleo kitchen and how to combine ingredients to become something truly nourishing for your body and soul and for the important people in your life.
The two essential tricks for happy, healthy eating are being prepared and avoiding boredom. Well Fed explains how to enjoy a "cookup" once a week so that you have ready-to-go food for snacks and meals every day. It will also show you how to mix and match basic ingredients with spices and seasonings that take your taste buds on a world tour.
I've kept the recipes as simple as possible, without compromising taste, and I've tested the recipes extensively to minimize work and maximize flavor. Where it makes sense, I've explained how you can cut corners on technique and when you'll have the best results if you follow my instructions. Some of the dishes are "project recipes," so I've included prep and cooking time to indicate which are quick enough for weeknights and which are perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons.
I'm from a melting pot family: Lebanese on Dad's side, Italian and Slovak on Mom's. From the time I could shove food into my mouth, I ate kibbeh and eggplant parmesan, and while Mom taught me to cook pancakes on weekend mornings, I picked up my dad's tricks for making baba ghanoush at dinner. The recipes in this book reflect my affection for traditional ethnic cuisines and for foods with contrasting flavors and textures, so that your healthy food also includes the luscious contrasts of sweet savory and crispy chewy.
Ultimately, I hope this book will make you feel that paleo eating – too often defined by what we give up – is really about what we gain: health, vitality, a light heart, and memorable meals to be shared with the people we love.
WHAT IS PALEO?
You've probably heard the paleo diet called a lot of things. Caveman Diet. Primal. Real Food. Paleo Lifestyle. Around our house we call it "Dino-Chow." All of these terms refer to roughly the same way of eating that's based on the idea that we feel our best – and are our healthiest, mentally and physically – when we mimic the nutrition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
I know it sounds a little groovy or like something from science fiction. But evolutionary biologists, chemists, and nutritionists are really onto something. When we remove inflammatory foods from our diets – foods that were not part of our ancestors' daily meals – we reduce our risk for "diseases of civilization" like heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Additionally, our energy levels are better, we look years younger, and we enjoy life more.
To understand all of the science behind these nutritional guidelines, I recommend you turn to the same experts that educated me:
Whole9: Melissa and Dallas Hartwig are the big brains behind the wonderful Whole30 program that's helped thousands of people slay their sugar demons and create a new, healthy relationship with real food. They consume and digest all the paleo research so that foodies like us can simply learn how to eat. Thanks to Melissa and Dallas, I can now enjoy my food without measuring every meal or recording every bite in a food journal.
Robb Wolf: The author of The Paleo Solution goes deep into the geeky science with a sense of humor that makes it all easily understood and relevant to daily life. Robb's book broadened my understanding of the "why" behind the paleo lifestyle so it's easier to do the right "what" on a daily basis.
Mark Sisson: The author of The Primal Blueprint presents a compelling case for living more primally in every aspect of life: nutrition, exercise, sleep, socializing, and sex! I love what Mark has to say about finding time to play and taking advantage of modern conveniences without feeling beholden to a thoroughly modern (unhealthy) lifestyle.
Nora Gedgaudas: The author of Primal Body, Primal Mind explains how blood sugar swings – from too many carbohydrates, and inadequate protein and fat – contribute to mental illness and general unhappiness.
The Resources section (p. 156) includes more details about these mentors, as well as a comprehensive list of the sources I turn to for inspiration and information.
THE "NO" LIST
Let's get the bad news out of the way immediately: Paleo eating means avoiding many foods that top your list of favorites. Different paleo practitioners promote differing guidelines. I follow the standards outlined by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig of Whole9. The guidelines are fairly stringent, but they're based on the compelling idea that we should eat the foods that make us healthiest, and I can't argue with that.
My "No" List includes the following, and you won't find any of these foods in Well Fed recipes.
PROCESSED FOODS: As a former Doritos aficionado, I know it can be hard to give up junk food. But anything found in the middle of the grocery store, housed inside brightly-colored plastic or cardboard, is not a healthy choice.
GRAINS: Despite conventional wisdom, even whole grains are not a good idea. Grains include wheat, corn, oats, rice, quinoa, barley, and millet. They're to be avoided in all their devilish forms: bread, pasta, cereals, breading on fried foods, etc.
LEGUMES: All beans – including black, kidney, pinto, white, and chick peas – fall into this category, along with lentils, peas, and peanuts, including peanut butter. (I know! Sorry! I don't make the rules; I just share them.)
SOY: Soy is a legume, but I've called it out separately because it's insidious and can be found in unsuspected places, like cans of tuna. Soy is to be avoided in all its forms: edamame, tofu, meat substitutes, and food additives.
SUGAR: Sugar appears naturally in fruit, and you may eat fruit. Yay! But other natural sugars that are added to foods to sweeten them, like brown sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, evaporated cane juice, and honey, are out. Also out are artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, and aspartame.
DAIRY: The source of milk doesn't matter – cow, sheep, or goat. Milk and the creamy things made from it are off our plates, including cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, and sour cream. Some paleo people eat grass-fed, full-fat dairy; for me, the negatives outweigh the pleasure.
ALCOHOL: There is no argument anywhere that alcohol makes us healthier. Plus, you have a drink, then your drink has a drink, and soon, you're face first in a pile of french fries with cheese sauce.
WHITE POTATOES: Some paleo people eat potatoes; I'm not one of them. The starch in white potatoes produces a strong insulin reaction and they have very little to offer nutritionally.
VEGETABLE OILS: This includes basic vegetable oil – which isn't made from vegetables at all! – as well as peanut, canola, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and corn oils.
Each of the No foods has its own unique properties that put it on that infamous list. Generally, these foods are excluded because they either produce blood sugar spikes, cause systemic inflammation, or both. Yes, some are so bad they both wreak havoc on your insulin levels and fire up your immune system. We very strongly dislike them. (We're looking at you, grains.)
So, there's potentially a lot of bad news in that list. I understand.
But I'm going to make you feel better right now ...
Take a deep breath and think of every kind of meat, seafood, vegetable, and fruit you can.
Now think of fat sources like coconuts and avocados and olives and nuts and seeds. Visualize your list. Looks great, right? That's a lot of delicious food. And that is what makes up the paleo diet.
THE "YES" LIST
When I tell people I don't eat grains, sugar, or dairy, they invariably look at me like I've got two heads or as if I'm speaking Swahili, then they ask The Question: "What do you eat?!"
Animals and plants.
Generally speaking, the paleo diet is made up of nutrient-dense foods that began with dirt, rain, and sunshine. They come from the earth and would be recognizable as food by a person from any time in human history.
We eat real food: animal-based protein, vegetables, fruits, and natural fat sources.
MY PALEO STORY
I have excellent habits 95% of the time. I sleep eight hours per night to recover from and prepare for CrossFit training and lifting heavy barbells. I keep the house stocked with paleo ingredients and cook nutrient-infused food, so we can eat paleo food every day.
Then on rare occasions, I indulge. I become a temporary slug, and give in to the temptation of corn-based chip products, buttered popcorn, and an icy-cold glass of Prosecco. I might also occasionally sip on a glass of Ouzo and eat whipped cream.
These minor transgressions are possible because I make deposits in the good health bank the rest of the time. Every workout, every good night's sleep, every paleo meal is a deposit so that every once in a while, I can make withdrawals in the shape of a food treat.
This way of living started about two years ago when I made the switch to the paleo diet. Before then, I didn't have such excellent habits.
From grade school to the day I graduated from college, I was a chubby nerd and an easy target. My parents were both exceptionally good cooks – my dad owned a restaurant and my mom won almost every cooking contest she entered. I wore Sears "Pretty Plus" jeans because I really liked food, and I really didn't like to sweat. After a broken ankle and innumerable playground insults (At a bus stop, I was once unfavorably compared to a whale by one of the neighbor kids.), I stuck with reading and practicing the piano and roller skating to the library. I don't know how many gym classes I missed because I was "sick" or "forgot" my gym clothes. I do know that my P.E. attendance put my otherwise stellar grade point average in jeopardy.
Even though I avoided sports, I secretly admired the athletic kids. They walked taller than the rest of us. When I was in tenth grade, my dad took me to Annapolis to see the Navy band play a concert, and for about three weeks, I was determined to get in shape so I could apply to the Naval Academy. I abandoned that dream because I was incapable of doing pushups and situps – and I was too embarrassed and overwhelmed to ask for help.
For most of my life, I was haunted by a deep desire to be different than I was. To be thin. To feel confident. To break the cycle of thinking of food – and my behavior – as "good" and "bad."
I joined Weight Watchers and became a Lifetime Member with a weight loss of more than 50 pounds. I signed up with a CrossFit gym and learned to love workouts that scared my socks off. But despite my successes, it was still my habit to celebrate and to grieve and to stress out and to relax with food.
Although I worked out regularly, I didn't feel as strong – inside or out – as I wanted to. I had insomnia and allergies and stomach aches. My body didn't feel like it belonged to me. Then in 2009, I learned I had a nodule on my thyroid. The risk of cancer was high, so I had the nodule surgically removed, and the doctor hoped that my remaining half-thyroid would continue to function. It held on for a few months, then stopped working. It was a very difficult time. It was like constantly having a case of the blues, and I was sluggish, foggy-headed, and desperately worried about re-gaining all the weight I'd worked so hard to lose.
Then I found Whole9.
It was surprisingly easy for me to give up grains, despite my deep affection for toast, but saying goodbye to my standard breakfast of blueberries with milk almost did me in. I did not approach the paleo rules with an open heart.
But I committed. I followed the eating guidelines. I made it a project to get eight hours of sleep every night. I worked with my doctor to find the right doses for my thyroid hormones. And finally, eventually, I got my body back.
I spent about three decades at war with my body, with my short legs and stocky frame and junk food cravings and emotional eating. In comparison, giving up grains and dairy was easy. And in return, I've forged a partnership with my body that uses good food as fuel.
Now I know when and how often I can indulge in non-paleo foods, and I enjoy those once-in-a-while treats like never before. The food tastes a lot better when it's savored and not followed by a chaser of self-recrimination. I finally know how to truly celebrate on special occasions, while I live clean and healthy the rest of the time.
Excerpted from WELL FED by MELISSA JOULWAN, David Humphreys. Copyright © 2011 Melissa Joulwan. Excerpted by permission of Smudge Publishing, LLC.
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