I was motivated to write this post after a headline popped up on my Facebook feed today that declared the Paleo diet to be “pathetic”. The article went on to state a few reasons why paleo isn’t the end all be all that everyone seems to think it is and most of them were either incorrect or just plain unfair. I get it! If you love your rice and sourdough bread then I understand why you are sick to death of hearing about paleo and why that slice of bread in your hand is B-A-D. You don’t want to hear it, I get it. I have been there and I am sure many other paleo/primal folks were too. Giving up grains in our current “grainaholic” society is hard. That is not a sufficient reason to be hating on paleo though. There is frankly a lot to love about this way of eating and unlike some other militant foodie groups (that I will not call out by name) you aren’t thrown out of the club if you stray and eat some rice with your sushi.
Paleo might not be the end all be all of diets but for many, it comes pretty darn close. People see health improvements while on a variety of diets because they typically have some of the same things in common, the removal of some unhealthy food choices. This is why someone on Atkins and someone on a raw food diet can both see health improvements, because they both eliminate some things that detract from, and not enhance, our health.
I have tried many diets over the years (and at length) and nothing…not vegan, not vegetarian, not raw, not traditional WAPF, nothing changed my health for the better more so than paleo. I felt like something stuck to the bottom of a shoe on a vegan diet but I felt pretty good on a vegetarian diet. I also felt pretty good eating high raw and even better eating a traditional diet. I had to redefine what good felt like after going paleo…it was THAT pronounced and positive. Call it “pathetic” if you want but you won’t be convincing me any time soon that paleo is some kind of fad and that I have been dooped.
A common myth that surrounds paleo is that it is low carb and therefore unhealthy and ketogenic. Paleo is not low carb. Why perpetuate this flawed thinking? Paleo can be low carb if a person chooses to eat that way but it is not inherently so. I can eat lots of carbs on a paleo diet and I do….I just don’t need to get those carbs from grains and bread. I actually like carbs that have some real nutrition thank you very much. Veggies, greens, and fruit…can’t go wrong there. If my weekly menu plan does not include enough of these items then I get creative and fall back on the green smoothies I grew to love in my raw food days. I do what I have to do to get the nutrients I need. I do not sit back and let my health go to pot in the name of diet and thankfully paleo is a lot more sensible than that. In general, paleo foodies eat lots of carbs. Taste the rainbow…
Another argument against paleo is that it is a myth to think humans have an optimal diet. It is true that humans evolved in very different manners and grew to eat different foods based upon what was available in their specific locale. Yes, humans adapted to eat different foods to survive. Does it follow though, that the foods they adapted to be able to even stomach suddenly become optimal for their health? Say what?? Uhm…no. Many humans have adapted and evolved so that they can eat grains, gluten, and dairy, yet that does not mean they are or ever will be optimal for good health. It just means we as a species have become better able to tolerate substandard food and much of these tolerances “evolved” because they provided us with a survival advantage in times of shortage or when the best foods were not available. These subpar foods did not evolve into healthy and nutritious foods. The nutrient profiles show us what the optimal foods are and eating other things just because we have built up a tolerance throughout the generations previous does not make those choices healthy or optimal.
Okay, what else is currently said about the caveman diet? Oh yes, it is elitist and expensive. Well, it can be…expensive that is. I have to say that I do not find it to be elitist. You ARE what you EAT. Of course we prefer the grassfed, nutrient dense, and healthy food over the factory farmed, diseased, and nutrient lacking food that is available in mass quantities at grocery stores. Is it really elitist to take a look at the two and choose the better one? I think not. I have only ever seen experts recommend the better quality foods, not insist that you give up if you cannot afford them. There are no paleo police out there keen on making you feel like dirt if your chicken came from Tyson. The attitude is that you do the best you can do with what you have. It CAN be pricey. Yet, so is being sick and unhealthy. I had plenty of doctor bills while on vegan, vegetarian, and even WAPF diets. I now think of paleo food and my CrossFit gym memberships as additional health insurance premiums.
Lastly there is the argument that we are all different and we all need different foods at different times in our lives. Sure, I can agree. Though I cannot really agree that we have strong NEEDS for foods that lack in nutrient density and contain anti-nutrients so that we cannot even access the small amounts of nutrition they have…grains I am talking about you. We may like them and we may crave them but that speaks more to their addictive nature than it does true need. Paleo foodies usually follow an 80/20 or 90/10 rule to make exceptions for times when they want these foods. These exceptions are usually treats or compromises in social situations, not because bad food is actually needed.
This is one of the reasons I LOVE the paleo community, they are not militant like so many other diet dictocrats. I did 80/20 for a year but found that it was a little too slippery a slope for me and after doing The Whole 30 I went to 90/10 or less. It’s all about finding what works for you. You may just find, as I did, that paleo feels so good that you find what works is a bit stricter than you ever thought you would go. It’s not a fad diet and if done right it is completely healthy. Don’t let the rantings of grain obsessed detractors sway you away from trying it.
To your health!
Kombucha is pretty expensive to buy and yet it is so delicious, healthy, and great as an alternative for those of us who are tempted by soda that it becomes an easily justified expense. Well until you realize just how easy it is to make yourself that is. We have now established a pretty efficient brewing method in our home and we have gone from spending $4-5 dollars per bottle at the store to home brewed Kombucha for about .17 cents a bottle. Plus we are reusing all the Kombucha bottles we bought. So yummy, so good for you, and now…so cheap.
For those that don’t know, Kombucha is fermented tea made with tea, sugar, and a SCOBY or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast. It is full of probiotics and other healthy amino acids, has been consumed for thousands of years, and has been used medicinally in many countries and cultures. The image below is a SCOBY…the grayish, whiteish blob that goes in the tea and causes the fermentation process.
Not real attractive I admit, but the finished product tastes divine and I don’t even like tea. I cannot stand iced tea (I call it dirt water) and most hot teas don’t tempt me much either. So imagine my surprise when my husband got me to take a sip of his Kombucha and I discovered that I loved it. It was fizzy, sweet, and very much like a soda pop with just a hint of a tea taste. The flavors were abundant and some were even swimming with yummy chia seeds. I was hooked and if you buy it in stores then you know well why one would want to brew it at home…it’s expensive!! I quickly decided that if I wanted to keep myself stocked with Kombucha I had to make it myself and lucky for us it is actually very, very easy.
The process did not start out smooth though. The first two batches ended up going down the drain because mold formed. The first batch we had out on our kitchen counter, next to the stove and the second batch we put in a cupboard that was drafty and dusty. Both times I think that foreign particles got inside the jar and caused the mold. For our third and subsequent batches we put our ferment jars in our upstairs linen closet where there is no dust or dirt floating around, the temperature is warm and stable, and they don’t get disturbed. We also switched jars from a huge one that had a spout to a smaller one that did not. We have had no problems since.
We currently use re-purposed gallon size pickle jars to brew our Kombucha. We bought them from Wal-Mart, threw out the pickles (because we only eat Bubbies brand), and that is what we now use, along with cheese cloth on top of each jar, secured with rubber bands. There are Kombucha Home Brew Kits available but we wanted a super cheap set up so we went with repurposed when we could and we bought our SCOBY on eBay.
We have been using an ice tea blend for the tea because that is what we had on hand for the tea drinkers in the home. Every Thursday we harvest and bottle two gallons of Kombucha and start two more brewing. We use a funnel to pour them into the bottles we have left over from commercial Kombucha and we also have several Bormioli Rocco Giara Bottles in various colors that we use. It is important to us to have bottles that seal so that the tea stays fizzy.
Some we drink as is and others we flavor with juice (cherry) and we add chia seeds to the majority of them. We all love the texture and it is added nutrition. Not a whole lot of work but the rewards are great. Once you have the jars, bottles, and a SCOBY you only need to buy tea, sugar, and anything optional that you add to the finished product like chia seeds and juice. You may also need to buy water unless you have a really good filter for your tap as chemicals and other common water contaminants can kill your Kombucha and SCOBY. You can harvest new SCOBYs for other batches from your original one. Pretty soon you will be giving them away and composting them as you get a new one with each batch. You will also grow to love the process…
Stuff You Need:
A one gallon glass jar
Glass bottles to pour the finished Kombuchas into
Tea (organic black tea or a blend of black and green)
Sugar – Regular granulated sugar, no natural sweeteners (they won’t work)
A cloth cover (I use a flour sack dishtowel)
Rubber bands to seal it closed and keep bugs from getting inside
Brew about 8 bags of tea with 3½ quarts of purified water. Add one cup of regular white sugar and allow to cool. Don’t worry about using white sugar either. It is not for you it is for the scoby to feed on and the sugar content at the end will be very low. Pour into your brewing jar, leaving room at the top for your scoby and for 1-2 cups of Kombucha leftover from a previous batch. If this is your very first time making it then use whatever liquid came with the scoby you purchased.
Cover the jar, secure it, and put it aside in a warm place (70-75 degrees) where it will not be disturbed for 7-20 days. Taste test after 7 days and see how you like it. If it is still really sweet and not very bubbly then let it go longer. Our sweet spot is about 14 days. Pour into small bottles rather than large ones or pitchers, this will cause your brew to lose its fizziness faster. Enjoy!
Have you tried to brew Kombucha at home yet???
Recommended: True Brews: How to Craft Fermented Cider, Beer, Wine, Sake, Soda, Mead, Kefir, and Kombucha at Home
Soda is one those hot button topics for many. Health minded parents think of it as thorn in their side…something always there to tempt kids into drinking tons of sugar. Many people could care less and they happily consume it in mass quantities and cry foul whenever legislation arises to tax it or limit it. It is a hot topic because it is a hugely controversial product and hugely unhealthy.
Now this is not to say that my own kids never have soda. In fact they do. It is our rule that soda is not to be consumed at home but if we eat out (which is not very often) they can order soda. If we go to someone else’s home who has soda we require they drink a full of glass of water before they drink the soda and typically this means they cannot finish the soda, which is a-okay with me. For some reason it never occurred to me until JUST now that we could also do this at restaurants. Hello? New rule!
Why don’t I ban it completely? Well, I don’t want my kids to lose respect my words of wisdom when they inevitably see other kids all around them who are allowed to drink the sugary stuff. I don’t want them to think I am some hippy dippy overreacting mom and thus make the soda even more powerful in their minds. Whether or not this is a good idea remains to be seen (letting them have ANY that is). I am hoping that they develop a keen eye for the dangers of soda and that they end up liking so many other beverage options they don’t need it later on in life. I also hope to turn out kids who can make wicked back of home brewed Kombucha!
I was encouraged recently to read an article about how soda makers are reporting lower revenues and how the production of high fructose corn syrup is declining. This is great news in my mind although this is also why the soda companies are now buying out companies that make healthier drinks, like my Zico coconut water I can no longer drink thanks to them being bought by GMO supporting Coke. Ugh! At any rate if soda profits are falling then people are getting wise to just how bad this stuff is. Another article came across my radar this morning about a 31 year old woman who died due to what her doctors call a Coke addiction. She was drinking 2 gallons of the stuff a day and even gave birth to a child who had no tooth enamel, thanks to the soda. Scary stuff!
The part that stuck out to me in that article was how her family feels she was addicted and had withdrawal symptoms whenever she tried to stop drinking it. I had a similar experience when I stopped drinking soda. It was 2-3 days of terrible flu like symptoms and headaches. That stuff really is addicting and I have no doubt that years from now it will be common knowledge that soda companies formulated products with that in mind.
So what you can drink instead of soda? Here are some of the things we drink. What do you drink?
Flavored Water – Add ginger, citrus fruits or berries (can also be frozen), herbs, cucumber, vinegar.
Kombucha - Can make tons of different flavors by adding fruit/juice
Fizzy Juice – Use a soda stream and concentrated juice
Another meal success with eMeals! I wrote about them a little over a week ago and how their service is helping me plan some yummy meals. This particular meal was on their special Paleo Valentine’s menu that was a bonus perk of membership. They have a regular Valentine’s menu too but since I am on the paleo menu plan I got the paleo one. I thought that was very nice bonus.
My husband will be working on Valentine’s Day most likely so we went ahead and made one of the meals today for a cozy lunch for the two of us. We made bacon wrapped shrimp on skewers, drizzled with garlic oil. We had more shrimp than we had bacon so we sauteed the remaining shrimp in bacon grease and ate those too. Yum! I have never combined shrimp and bacon before and it was delicious. I can see making it again…often. ;)
And if eMeals makes it a habit of over delivering and providing these menus for special occasions I think I may actually do better about making “special meals” on those days.
eMeals is still offering 15% off for subscribers if you use the discount code newyear. You can use it for any of the meal plans so if you have been thinking about subscribing be sure to use the code. Enjoy!
I have made no secret that I am not really big on juicing. I have a Vita-Mix and we just seem to prefer whole foods juices and smoothies, with all the pulp and juice combined. That said it can be very nice though to have a cup of fruit or veggie juice without all the frothy pulp and the full tummy that comes after drinking a whole foods juice. My kids especially like juices and we are loathe to buy them at the store because of all the unsavory ingredients (like lots of added sugar) that often accompany those products. Organic and natural juices are available but have you seen the price on those???
Plus, sugar is sugar and most kid’s juices have a lot of it. A green juice is much preferred. Just something refreshing that they can drink with their meal and not fill them up so fast they won’t eat their dinner. We used to own a juicer and we used it often enough but back then we had a different house with a teeny tiny kitchen and we simply did not have room to store a juicer anymore. So goodbye it went.
At any rate I didn’t like the actual juicer very much. It was my first one and I bought a cheap Jack LaLanne model. I disliked cleaning it and I hated handling the blades. It made me nervous every time I used it and we kept misplacing the little magnet thingy that helped you put the blades in correctly. I swore that someday I would get a better one and as luck would have it the folks at NutrioPro recently offered me one of their cold press juicers to try. I have been hugely impressed with it.
Here it is after removing it from the box. This is everything you get…
The list of items/parts for the juicer are:
-New Bella NutriPro Cold Press Juicer with quiet induction motor
-Stainless steel juice strainer
-Single juicing screw auger
-1 pulp container with handle
-1 juice container with handle
-1 cleaning brush
-5 year warranty
I LOVE that the containers have handles. It was also super easy to put together and I had it raring to go in about 2 minutes and it is MUCH quieter than our previous juicer and our blender. I also love that it is a cold pressed juicer. It has no blades so the fruits and veggies are not pulverized into juice, they are pressed or squeezed, using a two step system. The pressing action won’t oxidize the fruit and vegetables and it will help keep the nutrients and enzymes intact. This is also because anything with a blade, like a blender or a juicer with blades, will heat up and start to destroy the nutrients. Cold pressed juices are a much healthier way to go. I hate handling and cleaning blades so double whammy bonus points here.
Another aspect that thrilled me was the fact that you don’t have to shove the fruit/veggies down into it…you basically throw them in and they get sucked in on their own. The only thing that has needed a little help from me thus far has been greens, like Kale. Everything happens so smoothly, I love it. Perhaps this is why NutriPro Juicers are said to get more juice from certain fruits and vegetables than other juicers. For example, the NutriPro got 66% more pineapple juice than one of its main competitors.
The next big win for me is the ease with which you can clean the NutrioPro. I HATED cleaning our other one and that fact often made me shy away from juicing. This one was very easy to clean and I had it done in about 3 minutes. The fact that there is not a whole lot of pulp and debris leftover is a big help. The hardest part to clean was the stainless juice strainer. I spent 2 of the 3 minutes scrubbing that with the brush. Everything else could just be run through some soapy water and rinsed. Easy peasy. It is dishwasher safe too but my dishwasher was full when it was time to clean up.
The very first juice I made was something I am now calling my winter wellness juice. It is full of fresh ginger which is so very good for you…like a natural wonder drug. It is perfect for winter time when illness is rampant and yummy too.
Winter Wellness Juice
1 large apple
3 large kale leaves
3 stalks celery
1-2 inches of ginger
To your health!!