Summer time is full of BBQs, especially around July 4th. Well, what's better than fireworks, good people, and GOOD FOOD!?
Good news: Contrary to popular belief, BBQs are very paleo-friendly and make eating healthy easy. Why is that? THE GRILL! Bring your meat, bring your veggies, throw them on the grill, and enjoy some good, healthy food! Okay okay, so what OTHER than meat and veggies on the grill can you eat that doesn't require you to deviate from your paleo-streak? This July 4th, save your gut the grief by avoiding bread and pasta salad, and instead enjoy BACON-WRAPPED DATES!
Lil' bites of paleo deliciousness!
Bacon-wrapped dates are so easy to make and everyone loves them...yes EVERYONE! As the perfect combination of salty and sweet, this paleo appetizer is one I bring to festivities often. Whether your friends are strict paleo or fast food junkies, I assure you they will enjoy this decadent meat candy.
1lb bacon (pasture-fed for best quality)
1 bag/container dates (pitted/unpitted, both ok)
You will need toothpicks so don't forget to grab a box of those too!
Dates & Bacon...doesn't get much simpler than that!
The first thing you do is preheat the oven to 350. Next, pit the dates...if you purchased them pitted, you're job just became EVEN EASIER! However, as a side note, dates purchased already pitted tend to be a bit less moist. This won't matter TOO much, but if you have the time, buy them pits-in and take the few minutes to squeeze them out yourself...enjoy the full effect of deliciousness! You also have the option of splitting the dates in half length-wise or leaving them whole, depending on how big of a bite you want, and how juicy you want the center of the date to be (this is not a make or break thing, but rather an issue of moistness...a date left whole will maintain more of its moist center). As for the bacon, I find that cutting each strip into 3 parts makes for a nice proportion of bacon-to-date. If you are crazy over bacon, go ahead and use an entire strip, but depending on how many people you are feeding this may get pricey!
Warning: Avoid urge to overeat!
Once you have your dates pitted and bacon the length you want it, it's time to get wrapping! Simply use your hands to wrap the piece of bacon around the date...then secure each bacon-wrapped date with a single toothpick. Place all the bacon-wrapped dates on a cookie sheet (covered with tin foil if prefered, but things get greasy regardless). Cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally. The cooking time really depends on how you prefer your bacon...for example, if you like your bacon crisp, cook a little longer. The dates will be really hot in the center, so be sure not to burn your tongue off...or should I say, enjoy with care!
This July 4th...EAT RESPONSIBLY! :)
There are always those weekend days where I have a decent sized breakfast, but for some reason can't stay quite satiated enough to make it all the way until dinner. I'm sure we've all been there...so do we have a late lunch or just snack our way to dinner? I am definitely guilty of the latter, but have pushed more towards making myself a lunch, for 2 main reasons:
1) Eating lunch forces my mind to register that I am eating an actual meal, whereas snacking can often leave the food we opt to eat unaccounted for...and "snacking foods" are generally less healthy.
2) Eating a satiating lunch prevents me from overeating too much at dinner (on top of all those snacks I had consumed to 'hold me over").
So what are some ideas of a quick, easy, healthy, satiating, and relatively inexpensive lunch?
Stuffed Burger & Baby Spinach Salad
1lb GrassFed ground beef (~$5, makes 4 burgers)
Fresh, whole fat, mozzarella cheese (sliced; see below for replacement ideas if you suffer from autoimmune disease)
Coconut oil (for pan frying)
Balsamic dressing (optional)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (optional spices)
GrassFed beef and fresh Mozzarella...YUM!
Fortunately, stuffing a burger is a cake walk. A quarter pound of meat is a good amount for each burger (1lb makes 4 burgers). First, mold a hamburger in your hands. Then, to make room for the stuffing, press your finger tips in the middle of the burger to form a cavity. In this cavity place your filling, which in this case was a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. For those of you with autoimmune disease, you could substitute the cheese (dairy) for something like fresh sliced avocado, or opt out of stuffing the burger altogether.
Working in the 'stuffing'
Place your stuffed (or unstuffed) burgers on a pan containing about a tablespoon of coconut oil. I pan fry the burgers on each side until I start to see the cheese oozing out (because at this point I am salivating at the mouth and need to eat them ASAP). Also, good quality, grassfed meat is ideal when less cooked. I generally sear my burgers on each side and cook them until there is only pink/red on the inside.
Ready to eat!
As a personal preference, I like to eat a little bit of a bunch of things, rather than a lot of one thing...in my mind this equates to eating 'more.' For example, some people would rather eat 2 burgers and call it a day. For me, I take 1 burger and throw it on top of spinach, tomatoes, and maybe some avocado (or whatever else I have in the fridge). Sometimes I top my 'salad' with EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and balsamic vinegar, or salsa...other times I leave it plain and try to appreciate the juices from my good quality meat. Regardless, I never regret preparing myself a quick, easy, inexpensive meal when I'm hungry. Enjoy...and don't forget to bring the leftover burgers with you to the office for a healthy lunch on-the-go!
As most of you know, I have been SLACKING w/ paleoscape lately...but I'M BACK (w/ a vengeance), as I officially have my Ph.D.
now! Who would have thought!?
Anyways, I have struggled the past few months with maintaining the paleo diet through writing my thesis and staying sane. Sitting at a desk for long, tedious bouts of time is draining. I work better at night, of course when all other distractions are sleeping, so my night sleep generally began around 3am on writing days. This is NOT GOOD. Physicians are now saying that 'hours of sleep a night' will soon become a vital sign, much like that of blood pressure or heart rate. Go figure...have you ever had a horrible night sleep (or barely any sleep at all) and the next day craved nothing but crap food? Sugary food? Yep...that's because lack of sleep has left your cortisol
out of whack. This makes sticking with paleo more difficult. Even worse, cortisol can make it very hard to lose weight or stay in shape, regardless of how clean you're eating. I will highlight cortisol later in another blog of its own, because those of you who know me personally, know that I love to talk about it!
Moral of the story, I am getting back on the paleo bandwagon full force AND making adequate sleep a NECESSITY (b/c it is). I will also be keeping up with the blog frequently. Graduate school has come to an end, I have obtained the Ph.D., and traveling the country has ceased for a bit. Thanks to all of you who have continued to e-mail me or send me messages related to paleo during my paleoscape blog hiatus...these things are always welcome and appreciated.
The subject of this blog is mantaining paleo-like eating while on the fly. For example, I was in airports for 12hrs on Tuesday traveling from San Diego back to Philadephila. So what did i do to avoid being infected by the standard american diet (SAD)? It is worth noting that NONE of the things I ate were OPTIMAL, but they kept me going throughout the day, and allowed me to avoid wheat, gluten, bread, corn, soy, etc. that form the basis of processed foods.
Breakfast: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant
What is shown here is what I did NOT eat for breakfast. The terminal I sat in for the morning had no 'sit-down' restaurants from which I could order eggs and bacon, the typical foundation of my breakfast. My choices were to intermittent fast (IF), or order something that I could modify to fit my diet. I hadn't slept great, and had been under a lot of stress from constant traveling, so I decided the timing was not optimal to IF. I ordered the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, of which I only ate the bacon, egg, and some of the cheese. I avoided what cheese I could, but not having an autoimmune disease myself, I knew a little dairy wouldn't harm me too much. You know you're paleo when...you eat sandwiches with a fork!
Snack 1: Tomato Juice
It's frustrating sitting on the plane for hours when you follow a paleo-like diet because the only drinks they offer that you can drink are water, and WATER! I suppose tea and black coffee also work...but this time I went for the 100% tomato juice. For me, tomato juice seems to give me that kick of vitality I need for long travel trips. If you can stomach the stuff, I'd say go for it (afterall, its free)!
Lunch: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Airport food is NOT CHEAP! My strategy: find a place where I can order lunch and dinner together for 'cheap.' I had a 5.5hr flight ahead of me, so in anticipation of getting hungry (and in an effort to avoid eating all the food im my parents house when I arrived late at night, as was the case in my past), I bought a dinner meal with my lunch and brought it on the plane with me. I will get to dinner in a bit...as for lunch, I ordered a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, which I have to admit is one of my favorites. The soup rang in at about $3 and was an impressive portion that included big chunks of chicken and avocado. I avoided the tortilla strips and some of the gooey cheese, and overall felt good about my lunch option. For soup, it was very satiating...satisfying.
Snack 2: 85% Dark Chocolate and Starbucks (my obsession).
Almost every day I have dark chocolate and starbucks, and in fact, I often indulge in the two together...the combo is to die for! I thoroughly enjoyed this snack just prior to my 5.5 hour flight. Why? Because although most people have the luxury of sleeping on airplanes, I canNOT. Instead, I capitalize on this time as 'research' or 'work' time. Coffee and chocolate definitely help fuel that!
Importantly, the chocolate I ate had no gluten, soy, or emulsifiers. It is dark enough to provide beneficial antioxidants, and even tastes delicious. I recommend trying this bar if you can find it at your local health food store. I purchased mine on sale for $2.99 at the local co-op in Iowa City before leaving for my trip across country...good find!
No Gluten, No Soy...DELICIOUS.
Dinner (in flight): Grilled Chicken Salad
As I mentioned earlier, I bought my lunch and dinner at the same place...a convenient mexican restaurant i stumbled upon in the airport. The soup was amazing, and so was this salad. The salad had an impressive amount of chicken, avocado, green lettuce, tomatoes, fresh feta cheese, and a little bit of an oily vinegarette. For those of you with autoimmune or who are trying to lean out, I would advise you to stay dairy-free, and therefore avoid the feta cheese in this salad. Also, I am not certain of the quality of the vinegarette, or even chicken for that matter, but this option was better than other options offered at airports: fast food, pizza, bagels, candy, soft pretzels, etc. It is worth noting that including a oil on salad facilitates extraction of the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables/lettuce- a good thing! Also, a tip that I live by is that if my only options are not high quality meat, stick with inherently lean meats- in this case, chicken. Overall, for $13 I had a very satisfying lunch and dinner.
Snack 3: Custom-made Raw Trail Mix
The best way to eat cheap on the go is to bring your own food...duh. Before leaving for my cross country trip I ordered a custom-made 5lb bag of trail mix...yes 5 pounds! For those of you interested: www.nutsonline.com
, have a field day. My mix included raw nuts (macadamia, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds), dried fruit (cherries, star fruit, chocolate covered goji berries, and coconut flakes). This was a great go-to snack to have on the road, in the plane, post workout, or when I needed something to get me through a few more hours to the next meal (which is important when traveling b/c we can only afford to buy so many good meals).
I hope my 'on-the-go" menu has provided you with some options to consider next time you're on the road/ in the air. The basis of good health is eating real food. Eating real food is ALWAYS a possibility...don't sell yourself short no matter where you are...this is YOUR life we are talking about.
I'M BACK! ;)