It’s no secret that making the switch from your current eating habits to a paleo-based diet is intimidating. It will be hard, AT FIRST. See the excerpt from the August 2004 issue of Runner’s World describing Joe Friel’s initial experience with paleo dieting:
"Still, Joe Friel was skeptical when he and Cordain first began debating the Paleo diet in the 1990s.
A marathoner, cyclist, triathlete, endurance coach, and author, Friel had built his reputation on giving clients scientific support for his training programs. He had a deep belief in pasta power, and tried the Paleo diet himself only to shut up Cordain, his neighbor in Fort Collins, Colorado. The first two weeks on the diet, Friel felt like crap—‘the way I would in the old days when we carbo-depleted before a marathon,’ he told me one morning while finishing a long bike ride. But the third week he felt strong enough to increase his training by 50 percent. The fourth week, he increased it another 50 percent, and he's been a true believer in Paleo eating ever since."
Most of us use glucose (carbohydrates) as a primary energy source. Our brains, our muscles, thrive on carbohydrate consumption…or do they? Did you know that a whopping majority of our cells actually prefer to use fat (ketones) for energy? So, what’s the catch? Although fat is a BETTER source of fuel, it takes some adapting to fully reap the benefits of making the switch. We’re talking completely rewiring the way our metabolic circuitry runs- upregulating certain biochemical switches (enzymes) and downregulating others. Some of this happens quickly, but other aspects can take days to weeks. Initially, you’ll be sending your body the message that you are rebelling against it...cutting off its most prized, convenient energy source, ah! AT FIRST, you WILL crave sugar. You might experience fatigue, clouded thinking, even potentially miserable workouts, double ah! But stick it out like Joe and I and so many others have done. Give your mind and body the chance to experience the greatness of being a “fat-burner!” Ultimately your body thank you...those mood swings will vanish, those afternoon crashes will be a mere remnant of a past lifetime, and those God-awful sugar cravings will subside. What there’s more? Your body fat will shed and/or transform to muscle before your eyes, your lipid profile is likely to improve (I say it will, but I can’t make that claim for ALL individuals so this is me protecting myself), and your workouts will become more explosive than ever. Just give it a try...if you’re not completely satisfied with the way you look, feel, and or perform right now, then what do you have to lose?
Pinterest has a sense of humor!
Let me say a bit more about the paleo diet and carbohydrates to set things straight. The Paleo diet is NOT
the Atkins diet. Nor is it a must-be low carb diet. The paleo diet includes a wide variety of carbohydrates; in fact, ALL of those that grow and are natural, whole foods. You know, like sweet potatoes, veggies, fruits, etc. (NOT bread and pasta)! These carbs are the ones that are bursting with nutrients, the stuff that our metabolic machinery was designed to tolerate. HOWEVER, carbohydrates can be the most important factor
that affects weight loss/gain and overall health. Excessive carbohydrate intake gives life to several diseases, including metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X), obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Did you know that carbohydrates are the one macronutrient we do NOT even need to consume? And that majority of the cells that make up our bodies PREFER to use fat (ketone bodies) for energy??
For those of you who like to follow a set of guidelines, here is a rough establishment of carbohydrate intake “zones.” Keep in mind that carbs should be consumed primarily post-workout, when our metabolism is revved up and muscles are hungry for glucose, and as part of a well-balanced meal (i.e., with a sufficient amount of protein).
Adapted from Marks Daily Apple
o 0-50 grams per day: Ketosis zone
Congrats, your metabolism is converting/has converted over from the dark side. You are no longer dependent on carbohydrates for energy; instead, you are reaping the benefits of sustained, fat-derived energy. If done properly, this is a great way to initiate rapid weight loss.
o 50-100 grams per day: Slight work zone
You are still restraining your carbohydrate intake to some extent, but also loosening the reigns and allowing yourself to indulge in those post-workout coconut waters and protein-fruit smoothies. This is the zone I consider ideal for long-term, everyday health, especially for a relatively active individual.
o 100-150 grams per day: Work hard, play hard zone
Have you reached that I-never-thought-it’s-possible-only-dreamed-about body composition? Are your triglycerides finally below 100mg/dl? Great, now pat yourself on the pack and pound a sweet potato! Although this is personally a little high for myself, this range should not be problematic for most metabolically sound, active individuals, especially men. My tip is to reduce your fat intake as you increase your carbohydrate intake…so on days where you want to stuff your face with assorted fruit, sweet potatoes, Lara bars, yogurt, and wash it all down with wine, stick with leaner meats.
o Above 150 grams a day: Quick sand zone
Unfortunately, both unhealthy and “healthy” eaters end up in this zone. Exhausted dieters crawl right into the quick sand simply by following the standard American diet (SAD) recommendations and filling up on grain products (e.g., breads, pastas, cereals). These poor people who are reducing fat intake and cutting calories- merely doing what they are told to be healthy- are still gaining weight. Hanging around in this zone will shift your body’s production of insulin into overdrive and set you up nicely…for fat storage and metabolic derangement. We all have bad days, but don’t spend more than that “bad day” in this zone. Don’t become a victim of the quick sand.
Wow, so it’s been nearly a year since I have blogged about ANYTHING. Not okay. Honestly, life has been pretty cray cray- the good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. Beautiful as in experiencing London during the Olympics and Elk Lake during one of the most heartfelt weddings I’ve ever been to…ugly as in my diet and fitness regimen as of late. So here I am, forcing myself to put my foot down and get back on the wagon:
1. Train for something.
Yep, I’ve committed. I am officially running a half marathon in November. It’s been over 5yrs since I have run one of these…ahhh!
2. Diet makeover.
Motivation in numbers. The truth is, there’s no better time than now...I won’t be alone.
I’ll be joined by many other dedicated people from CrossFit Conshohocken
and CrossFit T1
who are gearing up for our second Paleo Challenge. For those of you who are interested in the results from our first paleo challenge and nutrition seminar series, please check out my blog post on Robb Wolf’s page
As for me, I’m stoked to start feeling great again and to maximize my productivity…to be back at the box working hard on a regular basis until my shoulder completely bounces back from injury…to have the opportunity to educate crossfitters, co-workers, families, and friends about paleo nutrition and the optimal human diet. I will be speaking to my workplace (ECRI Institute
) about paleo nutrition and the many shortcomings (being nice here with the understatement) of the Standard American diet (yes, the acronym is SAD). I will also be giving seminars once a week for 8 weeks, in either Conshohocken (@CrossFit Conshohocken
) or Willow Grove (@CrossFit T1
), to address the what, why, and how of applying paleo nutrition to lifestyle. Along with the educational component,
the paleo challenge has a hands-on component, a fitness component, and an accountability component. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to contact me for details. Anyone is welcome. Come check out a seminar, ask questions, do some research (or ask me the science nerd to), request a weekly meal plan/grocery shopping list to help get your life back on track and in a good routine. Even if you’re not in the area, I’d be happy to address any curiosities you may have. Tweaking your diet habits could change your life…it changed mine. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose by learning.
For now, I’ll leave you all with some tips:
1. Establish a plan and stick to it.
I know it sounds generic, and easier said than done, but do it. “I don’t have time” is a lame excuse. If you’re always tired after work, go to sleep early and work out first thing in the morning. If you don’t know how to cook, google that shit. It’s your life, grab the reigns.
2. Be realistic.
“I will not eat chocolate or drink beer ever” is bullshit. Don’t defeat yourself before
you start…pick a goal that is attainable.
3. Plan ahead.
If your work week is insane, be aware of that when the weekend rolls around. Reserve yourself some “me time” to relax and unwind. Set aside some time to prepare food for the week. If you’re already putting the effort into cooking Sunday night’s dinner, double/triple the recipe and take a load off later in the week. Trust me, premeditating the madness that is most of our lives can mitigate some of that after-work-i-have-a-thousand-things-to-do-but-no-time-to-do-it stress.
4. Reward yourself appropriately.
You only live once. If grandma shows up with her homemade cookies that are nothing you can get anywhere else, let yourself TASTE the magic. Let your senses experience the adventure, but don’t overindulge. Denying yourself something you love will come back at you with a vengeance. Setting no limits on something you love will also bite you in the ass…pun intended. So let yourself TASTE (when it’s worth it)…then stop.
5. Step out of your comfort zone.
Routine can be boring, but productivity and fun do not have to be mutually exclusive. If you find yourself obsessing over keeping such a strict routine, to the point that even though you are living productively and healthily, you are miserable…do something about it. Incorporate a new hobby in your week to replace one of your gym or active rest days. Skip the plain chicken breast and buy yourself some lamb chops. Go somewhere new, cook something challenging, taste something different…experience something memorable. Keep life fun.
I don't know about any of you, but when it comes to making the transition to (or maintaining) a 'paleo' lifestyle one of the hardest things is giving up that morning bowl of cereal/oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, waffles, bagels, etc. Although most of the time I do not miss these foods at all (because I am perfectly happy living on a diet that allows me to devour whole eggs, bacon/sausage, avocados, and kale cooked in grease any morning I want), there ARE times when I just can't kick the craving for a sweeter, more indulgent breakfast. For this reason, I have been getting creative with a variety of different ingredients and doing A LOT of recipe tweeking to see what I can come up with.
Last week was very exciting...an attempt to make 'paleo' crepe batter was a huge success right off the bat!
The tuber, Yucca Root (right), is the source of Tapioca Flour
Vanilla paste/extract (1Tbsp)
Coconut Flour (1/4 cup)
Tapioca Flour (3/4 cup)
These flours can be purchased off amazon.com for much cheaper than in grocery stores.
Dextrose/Honey (1/4 cup)
Pumpkin pie spice/ Cinnamon
Coconut milk/Almond milk (if desired for consistency)
Coconut Oil/Butter (as needed for greasing pan)
Toppings!!!!! Ideas include coconut butter, chopped nuts, nutbutters (i.e. almond butter, cashew butter; NOT peanut butter!), Fruit, dark chocolate...
The first thing you want to do when making crepes or pancakes, is beat the eggs in a large bowl. Once the eggs mirror what so many of us are used to eating every morning (scrambled eggs, omelettes), it's time to add the reminaing ingredients. I find it works best to add the flour alternatives last, then let the magic happen.
Confession: I almost NEVER measure the amount of ingredients I use (part of the fun/creativity that is the art of cooking if you ask me), BUT, the quantities I've provided here are approximates and should work just fine.
A helpful tip when mixing in the tapioca and coconut flours (unless you need an intense arm/shoulder workout) is to add small amounts at a time. It is crucial for the consistency of the batter that the flours are mixed into the eggs very well (i.e. no lumps). This takes time and arm strength...WOD: Make homogenous crepe batter for time! If you are lucky and own an electric beater, go ahead and use it.
It is also worth noting that coconut flour is a relatively thick flour, and it tends to thicken batter over a few minutes (this is why I did not use a lot). Add the coconut flour and wait a few minutes to see how thick the batter is. This is important here because we are shooting for a thin batter- something much thinner than pancake batter. Tapioca flour on the other hand is more of a thin, stretchy-like batter (why I initially thought it would be optimal for crepe-making). It can be very messy, so be careful...or have fun and cover yourself in it. ;)
To yield the optimal batter, I recommend refridgerating the batter overnight. Honestly, this is optimal for conveniency too if you ask me. Make the batter at night, stick it in the fridge, and you can probably even sneak some crepe-making in before heading off to work in the morning.
The next morning, the batter should look something like is pictured here- pale yellow, thin, and gooey.
I was especially lucky because my mom happened to have a 'crepe-maker' laying around. If you don't have this fantastic appliance, you should be fine making crepes using a frying pan.
Once hot, the 'crepe-maker' is submerged upside down into the crepe batter until a light comes on meaning the crepe is ready. This is a fairly quick process...and would likely be quick in a frying pan as well. If crepes seem like something you would like to enjoy frequently, I would recommend purchasing a crepe-maker
Add your favorite 'paleo'-friendly toppings, roll 'em up, and ENJOY!
...I would really to hear any more ideas you have for 'standard american meals' you'd like to see be 'paleo-ized' and/or any feedback! Also, feel free to contact me regarding WHY I chose to use any of these ingredients.
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!
I realize I have been flaunting these babys on facebook for quite some time now, and have actually had the oppotunity to cook them first hand for a lot of you...so it's about that time... to SPILL!
Ever since I made the switch to a paleo diet, one of the things I miss the most is PANCAKES! I am a pancake freak, and no matter what kind of diet I have followed in the past, I made sure to whip up an 'approved' pancake recipe. For example, when I learned that enriched white flour was bad, I switched over to making pancakes made from whole grain or buckwheat. Then after doing some more research and learning how detrimental wheat actually is to our bodies, I started making pancakes from eggs and oats. Let me tell you, when I found out about the havoc wrecked on our gut by grains, I ceased making all of these pancakes. This was a sad day! Until…I learned about grainless, and natural flour alternatives. The first that caught my interest was almond flour. The concept just seemed so easy to me that I had to try it. I bought a bag of almonds, threw them in my food processor, and wah lah: almond flour. Note: You will save a pretty penny making this stuff yourself rather than purchasing it in the store!
Almond flour is an okay choice to cook with because it is both filling and satisfying, but it is definitely not the best. WHY? Unfortunately, 1 cup of almonds contains ~4-5g omega 6 (“inflammatory fat”) and no omega 3 (“anti-inflammatory fat”). The polyunsaturated fatty acids are not heat stable and therefore are quickly oxidized to peroxides when exposed to high heat (because of their multiple double bonds). This problem becomes worse when almonds are crushed or ground up (as in flour) due to an increase in exposed surface area. The peroxides subsequently form free radicals and damage our cell membranes. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=65&utm_source=rss_reader&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss_feed
The BEST alternative to cook with is coconut flour
, as it is most stable at high heat. Additional advantages include that it is cheap, low carb, all natural, easy to use, and recipes do not require a lot.
I tend to blend the following ingredients in a food processor, pour the mixture in a bowl, and let it sit for a few minutes.
Example: heated strawberries for topping
¼-1/2 cup coconut flour
2tbsp honey (optional depending on ‘paleo strictness,’ but makes it taste that much better)
1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk (improved recipe!)
4 large eggs
2tbsp. pumpkin spice (divided 1tbsp batter, 1tbsp sprinkled among the cooking pancakes)
Pecans, dark chocolate chips, chopped apples, etc. if desire inside pancakes (optional)
Water if necessary to bring to desired consistency
Coconut flour thickens the mixture with time, so it is worth waiting up to 5 minutes to see the final texture of the batter before cooking. I add coconut oil (or use remaining grease from pastured bacon) to a pan on medium-high heat and pour or ladle out the batter. Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon) on the batter while cooking for some added flavor. Cook as you would normal pancakes. Serve with almond butter, coconut butter, and/or berries (buy frozen and heat in a sauce pan to make a homemade fruity ‘syrup’), etc. For those of you without autoimmune issues, whole fat cottage cheese is also a delicious topping! Be creative, but step away from Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Buttersworth!
Typical Saturday brunch!!!
I’ll start with providing a little background…COWS EAT GRASS!! In fact, most of the beef produced until the 1940’s was from cattle that ate grass (1). As with most other things, it eventually became time to ‘upgrade’ in order to improve the ‘efficiency’ of beef production. We discovered that mass production of beef was made possible by feeding high energy grains to the cattle, which decreased the time each animal had to be fed before being slaughtered. A shortcut if you will. No good. Research over 3 DECADES shows that the type of diet fed to cattle significantly alters the fatty acid composition and overall antioxidant content of the beef. This is so remarkable that as the concentration of grain increases in a cow’s diet, the ratio of good fats to bad fats decreases in a linear fashion. I will talk more about the good fats and bad fats in a minute. It is also worth noting that within 30 DAYS of switching a cow from a grass-fed diet to a grain-fed diet, the resulting meat suffers dramatically. Meat from these cows (fed grains for only 30 days) will have a far more inflammatory fatty acid composition AND be deprived of the antioxidant content that is otherwise present in grass-fed animals (1).
Secondly… there is a huge MYTH: Fats are bad and they make you fat. FALSE. Correction: Bad fats are bad, good fats are ESSENTIAL, and some even have adipose tissue (fat)- burning potential
. (Amazing...they say fat makes you fat, yet advertise the use of fatty acids as fat-burning supplements). Hmmm...I will elaborate on fats more specifically in a later blog. For now, just keep in mind that since the 1980s the ‘low fat’ hype has consumed our country. Mind-boggling then isn’t it that the incidence of heart and metabolic diseases continue to grow (3)!? So, low fat? More like a life-threatening scandal! Fats are an integral part of our diet, and therefore consuming quality fat from meats is important. Toxins administered to grain-fed, commercial cattle are stored in fat tissues, another reason to pay that extra $1-2 for grass fed meats…it’s worth avoiding the money you’ll spend when your health abandons you later in life. Total costs for diabetes in the US were estimated at $156 billion in 2010 (3). These costs are primarily due to other complications associated with this metabolic disorder, i.e. heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and limb amputation (3). I would say grass-fed is WORTH IT!
Okay, so down to business…what is sooo amazing about these grass-fed meats? The MOST remarkable advantage (and there are many) to eating grass-fed meat is the fatty acid profile they offer. Our bodies have two main types of unsaturated fatty acids, the omega-6 fatty acids (bad, inflammatory fats) and the omega-3 fatty acids (good anti-inflammatory fats). Put brief, the ratio of the two fats, “6:3 ratio,” influences our overall quality of health. This makes sense if you consider that omega 6 and omega 3 fats are made by some of the same enzymes, so excess of one type, interferes with the metabolism of the other type. The ideal ratio of omega 6:omega 3 is about 1:1-3:1, and above 4:1 is problematic. Any idea what the ratio is of the average American diet?
…and worse, grain-fed beef can be as high as 20:1 (2)!!! You may be shocked then when I tell you that cattle fed grass (their natural food source), produce beef with a fatty acid profile of 2:1-3:1! Amazing, I know. I sometimes equate this to turning your every day hamburger into a wild Alaskan fillet of salmon (also very high in good omega 3 fats…you know, the reason you take that omega 3 fish oil with breakfast every morning). An interesting tidbit: it is believed that the Greenland Eskimos had VERY little heart disease and arthritis because of all the omega-3 rich fish they consumed (1). That said, I believe that anyone consuming a diet that favors inflammation can benefit from supplementing appropriately with omega 3 fish oil. It is also important to keep in mind that our brains require omega 3 fats, and adequate consumption of them has been shown to reduce the incidence of depression and memory-related disease (i.e. Alzheimer’s). Conversely, not enough omega-3 has been shown to increase the risk of suicide… so, go grass-fed or beware of the consequences!
Okay, so now a little about the WHY. Why is grass so magical? Feeding cattle grass causes an overall leaner meat, with an increase in good fats. Bad fats in these meats are unaltered, but due to the huge increase in good fats, the 6:3 ratio is shifted to a far more beneficial, ANTI-inflammatory state. So bottom line, it’s what the grain-fed meat DOESN’T have that is killing people. In a recent study, individuals put on a grass-fed red meat diet had significantly improved 6:3 ratio (plasma composition going from a 9:1 to a 6:1) versus those on commercial diet (plasma composition going from a 8:1 to a 13:1) in 4 weeks (4). JUST 4 WEEKS! Again why? There are bacteria in the cow’s stomach that are very important for synthesizing good fats. These bacteria require a certain ‘working environment’ in order to function effectively. Consumption of grains by the cow modulates the pH in their stomach, making it less suitable for the bacteria to do their work. Cattle on a grass-fed diet have stomachs that are far more suitable for the bacteria to function and produce good fats…this is why grass-fed meats are so awesomely healthy. In grass-fed cattle, the bacteria work hard to synthesize CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and TVA (trans vaccenic acid). TVA is important because it leads to the synthesis of CLA. Over the past 20 years CLA has been shown to have numerous health benefits in mice, rats, pigs, and humans that include enhanced immune function, improved regulation of blood sugar, fat burning, reduced atherosclerosis, and tumor suppression (1, 2). Also worth noting, whole-fat dairy from grass-fed animals is another great source of CLA. If and only IF you do not have autoimmune issues (Celiac Sprue, Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, etc.), you can benefit from its consumption, as I do regularly…because whole-fat dairy is, well, DELICIOUS!
Finally, I want to mention some of the additional benefits of eating grass-fed meats over their grain-fed, commercial counterparts…yes, there is more! Growing up we were always told to “eat our greens” right? And, this of course is because green vegetables are so nutrient dense. Well, it’s a simple as that: a cow that eats grass rather than grains (bread, cereal, corn, soy, etc.) is going to produce meat that is far more packed with nutrients. Studies show that grass-fed meats are significantly higher in antioxidants, as they contain 7 times more beta-carotene (a precursor for Vitamin A) and 3 times more alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E). Beta-carotene also has tumor-suppressing effects in a variety of cancers. For example, in mouse models of melanoma, beta-carotene treatment inhibited tumor proliferation and angiogenesis by creating a more anti-inflammatory environment (5). For those of you interested, some non-meat sources of beta-carotene include carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens, sweet potatoes, squash, and apricots (apricots are a lower fructose fruit so go for it). As if I haven’t already convinced you to go buy local grass-fed meats, I will add that these meats are also higher in CoQ10, zinc, vitamin B12, and the antioxidant glutathione (1, 2).
Cows should eat leafy greens just as we should!
A few other things worth mentioning:
-Grass-fed meats are devoid of GMOs, growth hormones, arsenic, and copper.
-Grass-fed meats are not contaminated with wheat, soy, gluten, etc. and are safe to eat for those who suffer from auto-immune disease.
-Grass-fed meat has a lower fat content…but beware it is easier to over-cook and should be cooked slower and served rarer. (This makes sense because omega-3 fats are susceptible to oxidation and we don’t want that).
-Grass-fed meat taste better- it’s more nutritious and full-bodied.
-Grass-fed cows are free to roam naturally and are therefore better nourished, happier, less-stressed, and less susceptible to infection (meaning less antibiotic-resistance).
PLEASE, go enjoy some grass-fed meat, and SPREAD THE WORD!
Useful sites for finding grass-fed meats:
1. Cynthia A. Daley et. al. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.”
Nutrition Journal. 9:10; 2010.
3. Simon Smyth and Andrew Heron, “Diabetes and obesity: the twin epidemics.”
Nature Medicine. Volume 12; Number 1; January, 2005.
4. A.J. McAfee et. al. “Red meat from animals offered a grass diet increases plasma and platelet n-3 PUFA in healthy subjects.”
British Journal of Nutrition. 105, 80-89; 2011.
5. Guruvayoorappan, C. and Kuttan G. “b-carotene inhibits tumor-specific angiogenesis by altering the cytokine profile and inhibits the nuclear translocation of transcription factors in B16F-10 melanoma cells.”
Integr Cancer Ther. 6: 258-270, September, 2007.
Are you a newbie to paleo, or even a trained professional, who can't kick the overwhelming craving for condiments? One thing I truly miss... is ketchup. I used to put the stuff on everything... until I realized all the sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and other unnecessary ingredients they put in it!
Solution? MAKE IT YOURSELF...it's SO easy! (Thanks to Mat Lalonde for the gracious recipe):
1 small/ 1/2 large sweet onion
1 7oz can tomato paste
1/4-1/3 cup white vinegar
Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder to taste
The ONLY thing that takes effort is cutting up the onion into small enough pieces to fit in a food processor (which if you have a food processor you know this is not very small at all).
After the onion is cut into big chunks, place it in the food processor. Next, pour in the tomato paste.
Finally, add the white vinegar and spice(s) of choice, and process until a thick ketchup-like liquid is formed.
This stuff is good, and you can tell it's homemade. Nothing but FRESHNESS radiates from this condiment.
ENJOY on whatever you want... WITHOUT feeling an ounce of guilt!
Coconut Cream Concentrate
is amazing stuff. Move over peanut butter, dip your spoon in this!
Coconut Cream Concentrate is healthy, tastes great, and makes for some amazing recipes. Order now, and make yourself a batch of my Paleo Blondies
(see previous post for recipe and photos)!
For those of you interested in trying coconut oil, see the link below ASAP.http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/
Coconut oil is almost entirely saturated and its lauric acid (medium chain fatty acid) content has been shown to have numerous health benefits.
I use Coconut Oil in nearly ALL of my recipes because it is the healthiest, most heat stable cooking oil AND it tastes delicious.
See the recent peer reviewed journal article
that shows coconut oil has hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects almost to the same extent as does silymarin (the active ingredient in milk thistle
) in rats.