Veggie omelets, bacon, black coffee and some fruit have been my standard Paleo breakfast. I would never imagine that I’d get tired of eating bacon, but it’s nice to mix up the breakfast feast a bit. Today, my girlfriend surprised me by making an absolutely delicious breakfast treat… pancakes! I’ve seen a couple recipes for Paleo pancakes, but they never sounded that great. She made a really great batter out of bananas, almond flour, vanilla extract and a couple of eggs. They cooked, looked and tasted just like regular old pancakes… but actually better. We topped them off with fresh, organic blueberries and a drizzle of clover honey. Once I can get her to divulge a detailed recipe, I’ll post it here.
The Paleo Perimeter
Since going Paleo, I have noticed a very distinct pattern at the grocery store. About 85% of any given supermarket has become irrelevant. Most of the Paleo friendly items are on the edges and back aisle… all the stuff in the middle is processed, prepackaged, genetically modified, sugar laden, gluten oozing and previously delicious food stuff. This actually makes grocery runs pretty darn quick. Fresh produce up front, meat counter along the side or back of the store and then bee line to the registers. It’s pretty nice. The kitchen island is looking pretty Paleo… thanks Mr. Grocery Store Layer-outer!
Top Secret Paleo at Panera
In my neighborhood, Panera seems to be top choice for college students looking for free wifi and coffee refills or the mom’s club meet-up after the kids head to school. I begrudgingly go when I can’t think of anywhere better to get small portions tagged with high prices. However, my attitude about Panera is changing with a new “hidden” menu that has some Paleo friendly dishes. As a warning, the cashiers may look at you a little crazy when you order from this menu. There is nothing listed on the menus or in-store. It is new to most locations and the employees don’t all know about it yet. If the cashier gives you the stink eye, just ask for a manager and they should be able to assist. Here is a link so you can check it out… I stay away from the hummus, of course, but the salads are really tasty/ substantial, like the “Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad” with all-natural, antibiotic-free roasted turkey, baby spinach, romaine, tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. I can’t wait to try one of the breakfast bowls such as the “Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak” with two all-natural eggs, seared top sirloin, sliced avocado & tomatoes. I’ll be watching for tables of cross-fit people to join the “regulars” once word gets out on the new eats. Happy dining!
As a side note, my weight is hovering around 189lbs and my blood pressure is great. Work has been busy and workouts are lacking right now, so I’m going to stop writing and do something more physically challenging.
UPDATE: 3/13/13 – I tried the “Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey”. We ordered two of them and listened to the confusion back in the kitchen on how to actually make them. “What’s the order?” and “I think that’s something from that secret menu”. When the pager went off and I picked up the order, no one from the kitchen even looked up. Both bowls looked different and were really meager with the portion size. Very disappointing. Having a secret menu and also keeping it secret from the staff is not going to be a successful strategy.
It’s so comforting to eat one of your old favorite meals after starting a new diet, especially when you aren’t actually cheating on your diet. We did a really nice chicken piccata last night that tasted just like the Rachel Ray recipe we made many times before. Suddenly the Paleo diet doesn’t feel as restrictive or confining anymore. Since it calls for a bit of white wine to deglaze the pan, I did sneak a glass to go with the meal. Other than that, is was super paleo. The secret miracle to making the dish delicious is almond flour. What a genius invention, albeit an expensive one. I bought the amount I needed in the bulk section of Whole Foods, since the prepackaged bag was about $12 and I had my doubts it would be remotely edible. Glad I was wrong. Frying the chicken in a bit of olive oil with the almond flour breading is crispy and delicious. Believe it or not, I actually prefer it to regular flour. Before gushing on about almond flour any longer, here is the recipe we used… I highly recommend it http://evolutioncatering.blogspot.com/2009/09/paleo-chicken-piccata.html
Well, the weight loss seemed to stall at 190 and then I weighed at 187.8 yesterday morning. Friday was a pretty crazy day at work, so I really didn’t eat much during the day. I could actually feel the lack of energy and some general crankiness setting in. In my previous carb laden diet, I was rarely hungry during the day and could plow through without eating lunch very easily. Lesson learned, don’t skip meals on the Paleo diet. During those super busy days, I really have to remember to take some fresh fruit, bag of almonds or any portable food along for the ride. I always have a very even temperament and I could tell I was getting a little road ragey and impatient with people. So that night, we did some amazing grass fed beef burgers and homemade sweet potato chips. That altered my mood in an extremely positive way. It really reminded me of some nice, comforting pub food. We did a little cayenne and garlic salt seasoning on the chips and they really made the meal. They were really easy to make… just use a mandoline to slice the sweet potatoes thin, season to taste (I like to toss them in a bowl with olive oil and seasoning), place slices in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and pop in a 375 degree oven for about 15-18 minutes (depending on how thin your slices are). It helps to flip them once to get them crisp on both sides. We had some leftover and they were even good the next day for a snack… hmm, I may be carrying a bag of those chips with me from now on!
Can you do Paleo at Costco? I asked myself that question when the receipts from Whole Foods started adding up. Paleo is expensive. Organic, grass fed, fresh, 100% natural all add $$ to the price of food. The benefits are worth it, but hopefully there are some budget friendly options. Well, here is what I found at Costco. I didn’t realize it before, probably because I was never looking for it, but all of the organic foods at Costco have a green highlighter mark on the description sign. That makes life a little easier, but the difficulty is finding very many of them. The things we did find to be good deals and Paleo were:
1lb tub of Taylor Farms Organic Spring Mix salad greens for $5.99. About twice as much lettuce as Whole Foods for the same price.
54oz tub of Carrington Farms Coconut Oil for $15.99. This is $19.99 at WF. I hope this tub lasts a while.
Organic Chicken Breasts for $5.99/ lb. These are $8.99/ lb at WF, but I think the WF chicken tastes better.
Pure Nature Organic Broccoli Florets (frozen) 64 oz for $5.99. Not sure what this would cost at WF, but it would be at lease twice that amount. We are going to be swimming in broccoli recipes for a while.
Bulk nuts… almonds were a really good deal, but I already threw away the receipt and can’t remember the price.
I think we will do a fairly regular trip to Costco to restock. I am going to start checking out the local produce markets as well. Update: Weight is at 190.4 lbs and seems to have leveled out here. My goal is 185 lbs, so I expect to hit that as I get out and run more. Energy levels and attitude are amazing!
Paleo. Some love it, others not so much…
As I am becoming a bigger fan of Paleo and getting the garbage out of my diet, my girlfriend is having the absolute opposite experience. Yesterday I had one of the strongest workouts in years, no lack of energy during the day (no afternoon nap!) and was hugely productive at work. Today, I woke up 15 min before my alarm and was ready to go. For her, oh man. She is having headaches, is very tired and says that she isn’t getting enough food. It’s really weird how differently people can react to the same diet. I can definitely see how cutting out the caffeine, alcohol, sugar, starch, carbs and most everything you love would give a dramatic shock to the system. I am encouraging her to stick with it and get through these “withdraw” symptoms. We had a couple pieces of sushi last night before dinner and I think that may have helped 🙂
I will also be listing out the meals that we like and workout milestones as we move forward on the diet. So, last night, we did have some really great stuffed chicken breasts for dinner last night. Whole Foods does have really good organic chicken that actually tastes like chicken should taste. I made a modification to the recipe and used celery instead of carrots in the stuffing, added a clove of garlic, salt and pepper. We made 4 chicken breasts to have some left over for lunch. http://fastpaleo.com/bacon-wrapped-stuffed-chicken/
Day 9 – The Beginning
I am taking the Paleo diet seriously and following the dietary rules strictly. It has been a lot of trips to the grocery store, cleaning the bad food out of the fridge and a ton of cooking/ doing dishes. I kind of feel like a personal chef and maid. Right around day 6, I started to notice some changes. The first change, and my favorite so far, no more night sweats! Cutting out the alcohol and cleaning up the diet has got to be the reason. It’s been three days in a row, so I know it’s not a fluke. The second change, that’s almost as cool, I can do a full squat. I’ve never been very flexible and wasn’t a very big squat person, but I want to get back into running and light squats are part of my warm up. Before I couldn’t get past that 90 degree knee bend and now I’m all the way down. Is it because I’ve been doing more stretches and something finally loosened up or is it because of the diet? I’m not sure. The third change, is a huge uptick in energy levels. I’m pretty pumped up all day long and not drinking coffee like a fiend anymore just to stay awake. I worked all weekend and didn’t feel the exhaustion that I’d normally have. Oh yeah… one more thing that changed. When I started, I weighed in at 198.4lbs. This morning, I was at 190.4lbs. Blood pressure is 136/ 86. I will keep tabs on weight and bp as I go along.