"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paleo Food: It's Everywhere!

I'm going to give you three ingredients lists for some pretty awesome dishes, but don't click on the links until I tell you:
-Basil Grilled Chicken: black pepper, chicken breasts, fresh basil leaves, butter, grated Parmesan, garlic powder, salt
-Mahi Mahi Lettuce Wraps: mango, plum tomatoes, red onion, jalapenos, cilantro leaves, limes, salt and pepper, mahi mahi fillets, olive oil, lettuce leaves
-Country Style Fried Cabbage: green cabbage, bacon fat, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste)

Those lists only contains proteins, vegetables, fruits, fats, and seasonings (and a tiny bit of dairy for those of you who choose to consume it).... so they sound completely Paleo/Primal to me. Actually, they sound straight-up delicious! While I love sharing awesome recipes, these three are pretty special-- don't click the links yet-- because of where they come from. No, they're not from Everyday Paleo. No, they're not from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations or Primal-Palate or Nom Nom Paleo. They're from..............

Paula Deen, y'all.

That's right, those are Paula Deen's recipes, so go ahead and click on the links and check them out now (because they really do sound yummy!). While I absolutely love Paula Deen and would love to do an entire Paula/Paleo post, I actually have a point I'm trying to make here: Paleo/Primal food is not strange, and you can find recipes everywhere, including Paula Deen's site!

I had dinner with some of my hallmates a few nights ago, and I had mentioned to them earlier about Paleo (it came up when I wouldn't take free granola bars that people were handing out on campus), and they were shocked that my dinner plate looked so normal. I had a big salad with baby spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, and sliced up beef in extra-virgin olive oil-- and I'm sure it looked just like the salads other people in the dining hall were eating! I'm not sure what my friends were expecting, but it led to a more thorough discussion about my lifestyle and made them realize that people on the so-called "Caveman diet" don't just eat raw meat or do the whole reenactment thing. In my personalized version of Paleo/Primal, I eat "normal" things like salads and cooked meat and all types of veggies and fruits, and sometimes I even have cheese or dark chocolate. Breakfast for me is bacon and eggs, which is pretty much identical to breakfast plates all over the world. I usually don't have to make too many modifications to things at restaurants (it's pretty easy to just get a protein with a side of veggies), and most of my meals look "normal" to most people.

A lot of people have no idea what to eat when starting their Paleo/Primal journeys, or they feel totally overwhelmed when going out to restaurants or having friends over. Some other people think they can only eat things labeled Paleo/Primal (like "Paleo [adjective] Chicken" or "Primal [adjective] Tomatoes") or that exclusively come from Paleo/Primal blogs and books. However, as demonstrated by the Paula recipes, you can find suitable dishes pretty much everywhere without those labels. It's really not that hard: proteins, veggies, fruits, good fats, nuts, seeds, (maybe dairy). So easy, a caveman can do it! With all of those food groups, I really don't think Paleo is restrictive at all-- there are so many options, and now with so many cookbooks out on the market (by the way, check out Make It Paleo, which just came out!), I don't see how people can become bored with this lifestyle. In fact, Robb Wolf's Food Matrix creates 81,000 different meals!
While the internet is an amazing resource for Paleo/Primal recipes, a lot of the food people eat is already totally okay. My dorm had a Mexican food night earlier this week, and I had awesome dinner: chopped beef, chicken and veggies, and guacamole (pssh, who needs chips for guac when you can eat it with a spoon!?). How is any of that difficult, strange, or restrictive? If you already eat from the Paleo food groups, you're doing well: you can get Paleo foods pretty much everywhere without people looking at you like you're insane. "Weird" foods are things that come in packages, are loaded with chemicals, and don't resemble anything that can be found in the wild. I think it's more bizarre for a vegan to eat something like "meatless meatballs" than for a Paleo enthusiast to eat cow heart or chicken liver. What the hell is a "meatless meatball" anyway?

With the holiday season quickly approaching, you're probably going to face situations like potlucks or dinners* with friends and family. Dishes don't need to be "Paleo" this or "Primal" that-- just make real food. No one's going to think it's strange if you show up to dinner with a protein or veggie dish that isn't swimming in chemical-laced sauces-- real food is what nature has intended us to eat, and so many people eat real food every day without even realizing it. We're kicking around doing a potluck on my floor soon, and one of my hallmates was like, "I look forward to trying your Paleo food." My response was simply, "It's not Paleo food-- it's just real food."
*Note: There probably are going to be situations where there might not be Paleo/Primal options (like if there's no salad and all of the protein is breaded or sauce-covered), so plan ahead and bring your own dish so you know there's definitely going to be something you can eat.

I absolutely love this chart from FitBomb:
While it's definitely accurate, there's a lot more overlap between Paleo and other ways of eating than most people think.

If Paula Deen can make Paleo-friendly recipes, then it's pretty much guaranteed that you can find Paleo-friendly recipes everywhere. So the next time someone calls your way of eating restrictive, weird, or boring, instead of saying, "I don't eat grains, processed foods, legumes, [dairy], sugar, etc.," go with, "I eat so many different types of fruits and vegetables, lots of animal protein, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, [some dairy], and most things found in nature." People will be more open to the idea of things you do eat instead of things you don't. Positivity is key!

Good luck, and wow your friends and family with some awesome Paleo/Primal dishes this holiday season.

Quote of the Day:
"The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order." -Henry Ward Beecher


  1. Haha the FitBomb chart is awesome. Except I don't drink coffee (gasp).

    I agree with the labeling of foods as "paleo" or "primal." It often carries a stigma associated with vegans and vegetarians, that it's somehow different or odd compared to a normal meal. But in reality... it isn't that different, as you show with those Paula Deen recipes. Just get rid of the processed junk and grains / refined carbs...

  2. Not to be a jerk but if Paula Dean had made a few more Paleo dishes and a few less sugar-bombs, she might not have Type 2 diabetes

  3. @Doug: That is very accurate. 90% of her food is full of sugar and crap, but at least some of it is healthy!

  4. Great article! When I first started eating Paleo, everyone around me thought I lost my mind. Now, they see the yummy, simple, amazing food I get to eat every day, and realized I'm no different than they are, except in my ideology about what I think fuels my body the best. I'm not going to lie, my fiancé really isn't into my "weird muffins" (almond flour based) but he doesn't have to eat em... Which means more for me!

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