A picture could be worth a thousand drools if only I had one. I just had to post about our meals today, and wish I had a picture to post showing the vivid contrasting colors.
We get a lot of great deals at the local Asian market, and especially love the baby bok choy, both the white, and the pretty spring green colored varieties. We steamed the green with nice chunks of red pepper, and slices of carrot, tossing it all with a light touch of rice vinegar, wheat-free tamari, and toasted sesame oil. A few drops of the oil adds such a nice nutty flavor. We had kabocha squash steamed on the side, and the color combo was alive, with flavor for both eyes and tongue.
Our protein options were minimal. Frozen GF ground beef, or mixed sustainably harvested seafood medley. Easier to cook the seafood frozen, so we made a seafood stew to put in our thermos for lunch to bring with us to our clinic. I added to a little bit of hot water: sliced onion, carrot, celery, the seafood, a little leftover already steamed sweet and red potatoes, some colorful peppers, edamane to amp up the protein and give it texture, hulled sweet corn, some pureed tomatoes from a can, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Just simmered it for a bit. It cooked fast, and had just enough kick from the cayenne, balanced by the sweet kabocha squash.
On Saturdays, we start earlier at the clinic, and have been incorporating a third meal. We start with a big bowl of fruit with nuts, have an easy lunch, and a light dinner. If we know we have some animal protein waiting for us to prepare, than lunch might focus on plant protein. Since we will probably have GF beef burgers tonight with a fresh salad, we brought steamed red potatoes with kale, bok choy, and hummus for lunch. The fruit bowl was very juicy, with crisp black seedless grapes, banana, apricot, and plum. I keep dried fruit, like prunes, soaking in water in the fridge with a cinnamon stick, and add some of the juice and prunes to the fruit bowl for a syrupy like flavor.
We have a yummy pureed red pepper sauce in the fridge that looks like melted American cheese on top of burgers, and adds great flavor to veggies as well.
For snacks, or days when we need to supplement our protein such as days that we do our strength training, we add whey or soy protein powder, either in a smoothie, or just with soy milk. Soy milk has a good amount of protein as well. Don is doing research on genestein and how much more wide spread it is than people think. It is found in coffee, and in the clover that grass-fed cows eat. There is research indicating that many legumes have long been part of our ancestral diet. And many studies indicate that swapping out some animal protein for soy protein can reduce diabetes, and kidney disease.
We also use nut butters and nuts or home made trail mix as snacks. I like mixing coconut, shredded or flaked, with tamari roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted walnuts, almonds, and dried raisins and cranberries, or whatever I have on hand.
At our wedding, we had a really great almond-hazlenut dip and a medley of roasted nuts that everyone loved. Curry cashews mixed with pecans that had a slighly sweet flavor of cinnamon and honey were tossed with roasted almonds and coconut. It melted in your mouth, and the sweet/mixed with the slightly earthy and spicy curry was a perfect blend. We had an entirely gluten-free wedding buffet, that included two kinds of meat balls, the nut dip with veggie sticks, some TJ.'s salami sliced with some flavorful cheeses and olives, and artichoke hearts, like an antipasta (wonderfully displayed by many awesome frineds who helped), the nuts, coleslaw, a carrot-pecan-raisin salad, and potato salad. .The meatballs were a GF beef baked, than simmered in a marinara sauce in the slow cooker, and a turkey-chipotle.
I made up the meatball recipes, and my mom borrowed the turkey-chipotle recipe, which is now MIA or I would post. My secret ingredient in beef meatballs is raisins. They keep it moist, add a sweetness, but blend right in.
I am writing this because I think people want to know how others eat, or what our formula looks like in practice. I hope it is useful. Also that we can hold to our values maintaining what we feel is a healthy diet while in a celebratory setting. Many guests were very interested to learn more about being gluten-free.
I find it is really all about the dance, as I previously posted. The more we eat furit, the less of other starches. Balancing plant and animal protein feels much lighter, and more energizing. We use oils sparingly, and get more of our fats from nuts, and avocadoes. Most of our starch is regular and sweet potatoes, and kabocha squash. Adding hummus, tahini, olives, or olive and roasted pepper tampenade add great nutrient-dense flavor and fat. I enjoy grains here and there, like amaranth, teff, and quinoa, or buckwheat. We also sometimes have barley or rice.
For quick morning cereals, there are simple, easy to fix options that are still more or less the whole grain, and gluten free. Quinoa flakes, or cream of buckwheat, or many other varieties. I like making amaranth, or the quinoa flakes with a little apple juice mixed with the water. I add raw nuts to the cooking water as well, like the spanish peanuts, and top with the soaked prunes, and even a drizzle of tahini. If you tolerate corn, amaranth is great cooked with part apple juice, and sweet corn shucked off the cob.
My simple potato salad includes diced olives (I like sundried tomato stuffed olives from Sunflower Market), a couple of Trader Joes bread and butter pickle wedges diced along with a little of the pickle juice, diced red onion, red pepper, and a bit of apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and dill or whatever seasoning. The olive-red pepper tampenade at TJ's is a very good and easy alternative, as it is already diced up. Just spoon a tablespoon or so into bowl of about 5 red potatoes, and add a little pickle, and pickle juice. One batch tasted almost like the flavor of german potato salad. I might add a little olive oil, or swap the fresh for marinated and roasted red peppers, using mostly the juice from the condiments to flavor and moisten the potatoes. Dijon, horseradish, or even a touch of good quality mayo could be used if desired.
Since this journey has begun, I have learned quite a bit. What I believe personally is that beyond all the scientific models are real people...live organisms with a myriad of things going on every moment. The blood tests and lab studies do not, nor can they very easily take into account all of the intangibles of life. What moods we are in, our stress levels, thoughts, spiritual beliefs, etc. are all interconnected to how we feel, and how food effects us. And this changes moment to moment.
I love so many aspects of the 'paleo' concepts, especially the energy of the growing tribe. I don't like a lot of the attitudes, and steadfast beliefs that it's all about the meat. And fat. There needs to remain a health openness if we want to get this right. I have seen some incredibly nasty, closed minded comments and even dangerous advice being slung around with such righteousness that it really turns me off. Yet, I am all about tapping into our primal wisdom, as is Don, hence his blog title, "Primal Wisdom."
I also love a lot of what Macrobiotics has to offer. We incorporate many of their suggestions. We cook with sea veggies, enjoy pickled radishes, and use similar ingredients. Moreso, the original philosophy has such a broad scope. It is about a bigger, more holistic approach to life, and a philosophy to help create a better world. The intention is beautiful, and the belief is that we can create a more peaceful planet by eating a certain way that promotes more inner balance and peace.
What I like most of all is my freedom. I don't want to have this growing paranoia about sharing what I eat. I want to enjoy my life, and enjoy a variety of foods. When I first went paleo, I had already basically been wheat-free. I just upped my meat and fat by quite a bit. I just remember thinking I was happy to be completely grain free for a while to see how much it could improve certain symptoms. Yet, I had a tinge of feeling sad I would be giving up grains for good. I always enjoyed whole grains. Likewise with beans and legumes.
Yet these days it is like there is this stigma to eating/not eating certain foods. People whisper that they eat potatoes or rice, afraid of the response. Or people say they eat paleo, yet they include many foods that were not consumed until modern times. Some of the most adamant are more affraid of fruits than whole fat dairy products, which are definitely not paleo, and not exactly part of a 'perfect diet.' I feel we are creating more confusion, and potential eating disorders with so many afraid of eating many of the most nutritional, energy giving, yet least energy guzzling foods available.
In truth, whatever the hoopalah about what is really paleo, I am hopeful that it can become a whole foods way of eating vs. some exclusive club teetering on a glorified Atkins approach, which is really just nice rationale to eat a ton of meat and fat, and avoid fruits and vegetables.
So, I will proudly post that I eat tofu, beans, and soy foods. I am out of the closet, and when it comes to food choices, I guess you could say I go both ways. Or, more appropriately, I go my own way. I think some of the paleo thinking is chauvanistic, discounting the entire feminine principle. Women gathered, and made huge contributions to the total consumption of foods. Think about it. There is this huge bias towards meat, meat, meat, and many arm themselves with comments about those not eating meat being inferieor, weak, or wimpy. Plenty of athletes and body builders are vegetarian. Mike Tyson for one. I dare you to call him a wimp to his face. Then again, he said himself he is not even the same person. The foods he ate really effected him negatively, and he couldn't think about boxing again.
So here is my cum bye ya moment, however that is spelled. We all want to be healthy, enjoy our lives, our food, and hopefully find answers to the health challenges our nation faces. It affects all of us, as we all pay one way or another for a sick and fat nation. I have met many great down to earth people among the paleo community, while simultaneously seeing a lot of on-line very adolescent behaviors giving what could be so beneficial a bad taste.
So, to quote one friend, 'Peace, light, love, yada yada' everybody!
(I am sure she is laughing right now as she reads this.)