What is Paleo?
I frequently mention the word Paleo in my recipes, and since this is not a common expression for us Maltese, I decided to write about what is Paleo and why it works for me.
Paleo is a type of diet, or as I’d like to call it, a lifestyle, which consists of eating natural food without grains, refined sugar or dairy. The concept comes from eating food which our primates or the caveman used to eat. Since there was no industrial intervention, the food was more likely to be natural, unprocessed and easily digested.
Don’t be scared; you will notice that a lot of Paleo recipes will contain many eggs or meat products. I do find that consuming a lot of eggs and meat is too much sometimes, so I tend to balance the amount I consume from the latter. I also love and cook vegan food mostly because I like to maximise the vegetable intake. When it comes to protein, I believe that the source coming from animals is the one that works for me. Why? Because beans and legumes are grains and grains, unfortunately, make me bloated and uncomfortable. I suggest anyone try and omit any grains for at least two weeks, to see if they notice a difference in their digestion, resulting in a flatter stomach. This works wonders for me! It would also benefit people who suffer from IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) to an extent.
With regards to dairy, I found that I can tolerate it and it doesn’t affect me after I consume it. Therefore I include cheese about five times a week, mostly in my lunch meals or salads. However, I do not use any dairy in my sweets preparation.
What to Eat?
The first question people ask me when I tell them no grains whatsoever, and that means no pasta, chickpeas or lentils is; “what do you eat then?”. But you will be amazed by how many different options are available. Unfortunately, if you are a pasta lover, there is nothing which can replace pasta, but you would have to find other similarly satisfying comfort food which still keeps you happy. And having pasta once a week will not do any harm. I do take a standard pizza almost once a week and still manage to keep my desired waistline. I just prefer not to use grains at all when I’m preparing my meals. Of course, there would be occasions and weekly ones, and that is still ok. But I’d rather fill my kitchen cupboards with the good stuff. It still works if you follow this ‘diet’ plan four times a week. I don’t like to call it a diet because there is no sacrifice at all. I love eating good food, and Paleo offers many good, satisfying sweets and savoury meals.
The advantage of Paleo
As I said, feeling less bloated is one of the reasons. I also found this to compensate my energy levels and alertness. Also, it did help me naturally lose weight.
- Refined Sugars
- Refined or hydrogenated oils
- Processed foods
- Meat (preferably grass fed)
- Vegetables including root vegetables
- All fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils and fats e.g. coconut and olive oil
Typical kitchen items and what they replace
- Ground almonds (intrita) for baking sweets
- Shredded coconut which can be ground into coconut flour
- Chia seeds sometimes used instead of eggs
- Honey for sweet recipes
- Medjool Dates for snacking
- Almonds, pistachios, brazil nuts, hazelnuts for recipes, nut butter, snacks or to throw on salads
- Cashew nuts for making cashew cream or cashew cheese
- Almond or coconut milk instead of dairy milk in smoothies, breakfasts or sweets recipes
- Tamari instead of soy sauce (tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce)
- Coconut oil used instead of butter in sweet recipes
- Cold pressed Olive oil for salads or light frying
- Tapioca flour for making naan bread or pizza
- Raw cacao powder for enriching desserts
Top 10 favourite Paleo recipes
These are my top ten favourite recipes which I do not get tired of.
- Three-minute chocolate mug cake
- Easy Broccoli and Cauliflower Bake
- Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Garlic Naan Bread (can also be used as a pizza base)
- Pad Thai Salad
- Easy 3 ingredient pancakes
- Aubergine base pizzas
- Banana Cake
- Southern-style chicken with Greek yoghurt sour cream
- Thai coconut curry
Comment in the section below if you require any other information or want to share your experience!
Against All Grain by Danielle Walker