Dinner Diva: Part time paleo
I get asked all the time what’s up with the “part time” aspect of going paleo. It’s quite the conundrum to have to reconcile all of this as a nutritionist, foodie, cook and cookbook author. This idea of eating paleo was a big surprise to me initially and blew up a lot of what I believed to be solid nutrition. I truly had to scramble to figure out my next chapter.
On the other side of the coin, I’ve been a foodie since I was a child, a creative cook, (even been called a “chef”) since I earned my first Girl Scout badge and wrote my very first cookbook over 20 years ago.
So to have to completely rearrange my thinking, cooking, teaching and eating to deal with an out of control thyroid condition (Hashimoto’s), was huge. But I did what I had to do.
That said, I found it difficult—remember the part about being a cook and a foodie? I adore cooking, love to entertain and (God help me) love to eat—I’m not a skinny chick, there’s some definite curves going on.
But getting well and being able to just function was of primary importance! So I tackled paleo full on, lost a pile of weight, cleared up my face (I was hiding out at over 200 pounds and had a face full of rosacea, not fit for the public!) and learned a new way to cook, entertain and eat.
Along the way, I recognized the fact that we’re cooking and feeding humans here. We miss certain foods when we start eating in a new way; we love the comfort food brings. So rather than get super rigid and throw the baby out with the bathwater, I looked for ways to make this work for all. This is how Part Time Paleo was born– in my own kitchen.
There are a few rules to follow—simple and easy, I know you’ll like them:
- Skip the dairy. For the most part anyway. If you have it, have just a little, and make sure it’s quality cheese, aged over 120 days (to break down the lactose). Use as a condiment, not the main thing.
- No. Gluten. Ever. Yes, gluten is evil and will take down your health, pronto. But if you have to have some pasta, then go with a quinoa pasta-just watch your portions (the carb count on quinoa is ridiculous). Carbs break down into sugar; so excessive carbs lead to a sugar overload in your body.
- Legumes. Legumes aren’t allowed on the Paleo diet because they are full of lectins and can rip up your gut (you can read more about lectins in the book). But if you’re craving split pea soup, go on and sprout those split peas and have ’em. I’ve done this. Soak them overnight, allow those little guys to sprout for a couple of days, then make some fantabulous split pea soup. Sprouting grains and legumes destroys their lectins, making them Paleo-friendly. You’re welcome.
- Potato patrol. Skip the white ones and go for the purple ones, which have much more nutrition. Even so, see No. 2 regarding quinoa pasta. Same goes for purple potatoes–go easy.
- Eat veggies! Go crazy and bulk up on as many green veggies as you can, since you won’t be filling up on bread and grains. Watch the starchy veggies and go with lower-glycemic stuff like broccoli, cauliflower, and, of course, dark leafy greens.
Those are the rules—easy, right?
It’s pretty straightforward. Get those veggies in—learn ways to make them so they’re delectable (I can help you with that). Enjoy fabulous steaks, pork, fish and poultry (make sure you’ve sourced it well; organic, grass fed, pastured, etc.) and follow the Part Time Paleo Rules. You’ll be glad you did!
Leanne Ely is a NYT bestselling author and the creator of SavingDinner.com, the original menu planning website, bringing families back to the dinner table for over 15 years.
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