But the Paleo diet people are talking about today is often confusing, having been tailored by many to suit their own preferences. Below are some Paleo pointers of our own that we hope will bring you up to speed and help you decide if the Paleo approach might be right for you:
- The Paleo diet includes meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables (including rooot vegetables like sweet potatoes), natural oils and fruit. It excludes grains (wheat, oats, rye, barley etc.), pulses (e.g. beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas), dairy and refined sugars.
- It is not a high meat diet – in the Paleolithic times meat was an important source on nutrients and energy, especially for pregnant and nursing women, but given we’re far from being the quickest in the animal kingdom, on our two feet, compared to many four-legged animals, it took time and energy to track and kill animals, and then fend off other carnivores wanting their share of the kill. It certainly was not as easy as walking into our local butchers or supermarket and stocking up. So meat should really be eaten in moderation.
- Our vegetables and fruit have also changed greatly since the Paleolithic times, thanks to global transport and farming technology, making it possible to focus on particular varieties that suit our taste preferences better and yield more profit. A modern day Paleo approach should include plenty of vegetables, a little fruit and a focus on variety and colour to maximize nutrient variety. If you want to opt for organic, local and seasonal then go for it.
- Healthy fats were consumed regularly in nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables, providing essential omega fats and important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. But today the Western diet tends to be too high in omega 6 (e.g. seed oils) and not high enough in omega 3 (e.g. oily fish) as well as containing unnatural, disease-promoting oxidized, trans and hydrogenated fats. Keep your fat sources as natural and pure as possible and avoid heating oils to high temperatures. Nuts and seeds that are raw, not roasted and salted, are a great snack for most and can support weight loss in many cases.
- There is some interesting and exciting research that suggests eating a Paleolithic-style diet is a good idea for health and wellbeing. In some studies it has been shown to improve blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles. Observational studies of hunter gatherers and other non-western populations support the idea that a Paleolithic type diet may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and acne vulgaris. There is also some research that suggests it helps to reduce inflammatory markers inflammation being increasingly recognized as an underlying factor in many chronic diseases.
If you decide to give the Paleo approach a go, try to keep it balanced as we’ve suggested and
- 1 pack of tenderstem broccoli or purple sprouting broccoli
- 1 pack of organic prosciutto
- 4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2. Blanch your broccoli: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, when boiling throw in your broccoli until immersed and then immediately strain and rinse under cold water (remember to save that nutrient-filled water for a soup base!).
3. When your broccoli is cooled, carefully dry it and then wrap the florets in the prosciutto. I like to use half a slice and wrap the bottom portion so it looks like a flower bouquet.
4. Make your white balsamic glaze: in a small pan pour 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer until it starts to thicken and form a glaze. Remove from the pan and pour into a glass jar immediately.
5. Preheat your oven to 220°C. and lay your vegetable bouquets on some parchment paper and bake for 8 to 10 min until crispy. Set on a platter and drizzle your glaze lightly over it.
- ½ head of organic cauliflower, washed and chopped into florets
- ½ head of organic broccoli, washed and chopped into florets
- ½ cup of organic raw cashew nuts, soaked in water overnight
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp no-taste coconut oil (e.g. Biona)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (e.g. Marigold Engevita)
- 1 lemon, juiced
2. Heat the oven to 220°C - bake the florets and chopped garlic in ½ tbsp no-taste coconut oil for 15 minutes.
5. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and bake at 210°C until everything has a nice brown crust (about 15-20 minutes).
This bake is delicious as a purée or a side dish and can be drizzled with a citrus and pistachio vinaigrette (blend together the juice of 1 orange or 2 satsumas, a handful of crushed pistachios, 1.5tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and ½ tbsp white wine vinegar).