A friend asked me recently to help her get started on a Paleo eating plan. I’ve actually had the idea over the last few months of posting something similar here in case anyone else was interested, so I just happened to have some pictures I’d already taken! I won’t go into too many details about the Paleo way of eating. But basically, it’s eating like the cavemen (and cavewomen) ate. So pre-agriculture, meaning basically, meat, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. It also happens to be a popular diet amongst CrossFitters for its muscle strengthening, fat burning qualities. There are many resources out there and I am not an expert. In fact, I’m a big, fat cheater. I do, however, hope it will be helpful to anyone interested in eating healthier, and possibly shedding some body fat while gaining muscle tone. This way of eating helped me to lose 25 pounds about a year and a half ago. I’ve since gained some of that back, but I believe that’s due to an increase in muscle, not body fat. Because she’s anxiously awaiting my recommendations, I’m not going to spend too much time on writing and making this a perfect post. This is quick and dirty. If I leave something out or you have questions, please just ask! Here’s what I recommend for a beginner’s first week of Paleo eating!
Eggs (preferably organic but definitely hormone free)
Sausage or Bacon or Ham
Banana, Clementines, oranges, strawberries, apple, pineapple or anything from the fruit family.
I actually don’t always eat fruit at breakfast. Unless I don’t have time for eggs… then I’ll grab some fruit and string cheese. And I drink copious amounts of coffee with canned evaporated milk. It’s the best form of dairy from a low-carb perspective.
I do one of three things for lunch: a salad with protein, leftover meat from dinner the night before with fruit, cheese and mixed nuts, or turkey lunch meat rolled up with a slice of cheese and a piece of fruit on the side.
Dinner: These are NOT fancy meals. They also aren’t going to be the most delicious meals you’ve ever eaten. But they serve their purpose. As I heard someone say once, “Eat to live. Don’t live to eat.” Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook (and I LOVE to eat), but I have little time to shop for ingredients I don’t have on hand or to cook fancy meals, and most recipes include carbs somewhere. This is as basic as you can get. I save the “fun”, delicious cooking for bigger occasions. These are just to get you through the week.
Three dinners for the week. Make DOUBLE batches so that you can have left overs for lunch or for dinner on other nights. Cook for at least double, maybe triple the number of people you need it for. You can ALWAYS freeze anything you don’t eat after a few days. Meat freezes great.
Chicken Fajitas: I slice up chicken breasts and marinate them in a ziploc bag with olive oil and fajita seasoning. When I forget to marinate ahead of time I just mix them together in the pan. Heat some oil in a pan and saute the chicken until cooked through. I then add a bag of frozen peppers and onions, but if you have time to chop fresh, go for it! Saute until veggies are cooked through (frozen will take less time). AND THAT’S IT. I eat one with a tortilla, cheese, and sour cream. If I’m still hungry after that I just eat the chicken on a plate with no tortilla.
Turkey and Squash soup: Soups are one of my favorite foods. Sadly, I’ve not found many that don’t include rice, beans, or pasta. This one is a staple in my house. I make a whole batch and then eat it for lunch and dinners the rest of the week. Just made it this past week… No one else ate any. I ate the whole batch myself!
I have no picture but here’s what you do: Brown up some ground turkey in a pan (get the 73% fat turkey not the 99% fat free – This makes a big difference in flavor, and animal fat is GOOD FOR YOU!). Add about a box of chicken broth (enough to cover the turkey and veggies). Chop up two zucchinis and one yellow squash. Add them to the pot with one can of diced tomatoes (Italian flavored) and one can of stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. After the squash is cooked add about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. I put extra parm on my individual serving because I’m a cheese-aholic.
Fish Romano: I usually do this with catfish (my favorite!) but it works just as well with tilapia which is cheaper.
Marinate your fish filets in a baggie with 1/4 cup of white wine and a good dash of dried thyme. Only marinate for about 30 minutes. Then toss in a baggie with 1/4 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese (grated) and 1/4 cup of flour. Fry in a little bit about 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan. I added a side salad here (with full-fat dressing… DON’T do low-fat! There is too much sugar in those!) but I’d also pair with broccoli, baked zucchini, or a sweet potato. Or fruit!
Those three recipes (if you can call them that) should last you about a week if you make enough. One night you can go out to eat, as long as you make a wise Paleo decision! Usually not hard to do in a restaurant… they always offer meat! I do sometimes cheat at dinner (only then!) because my kids are carb-oholics and need rice or potatoes with their meal. I’m ok with those because they pretty much are whole foods that have not been “changed” or processed, but stay away almost 100% from bread and pasta. This makes me sad. But honestly, after a week, you really don’t miss them.
I can do more if ANYONE is interested. There is a lot of repetition with the way I eat. I do get in lulls where I want to pull my hair out (if you follow me on twitter I am often complaining about having to come up with a dinner!) but it makes such a huge difference with your hunger patterns, and I swear it helps me sleep better and gives me more energy. And initially, the fat just slid right off me.
OH! And snacks are always fruit, mixed nuts (NO PEANUTS, they are considered a legume), veggies (if you like them, I’m not a big “veggie for snack kind of person), or cheese.
I based the way I eat off of this book.
It was a very good read, albeit a bit detailed near the end, but the explanations behind WHY Paleo works were so easy to understand. I really loved it. It made me look at food completely differently, and after 2 years, I’ve stuck to it.
He has a blog too although after just one read of the book I felt I got the gist. I wish however I’d take more time to read his blog for recipes, hints, advice, etc. Maybe I will the next time I don’t know what to make for dinner!
Here is a basic shopping list for this week: There are no “measured” amounts because it depends on how many you cook for. I figure 1 chicken breast per person, 1 lb. of turkey for 4-6 people, 1 filet of fish per person… that sort of thing. My type of cooking is a little of this, a little of that. Which is precisely why I don’t like to bake. Too exact!
And to drink? WATER and tea or coffee (but of course I cheat with wine and beer)
And for dessert? The highest cacao content chocolate you can stand. And fruit. 🙂
One final note… My biggest problem is portion control. I’ve always eaten like a man. I have a big appetite. When I need seconds and thirds I always go for extra meat. Then veggies.