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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Paleo in Paris!

I recently came back from an amazing trip with my family to Paris. This was my first time in the city, and I absolutely loved it-- it was everything I had hoped and imagined it would be, and I would definitely love to go back there one day.

When you think of French food, chances are bread/baguettes and pastries (croissants, eclairs, palmiers, macarons, madeleines...) are on your list. I was amazed at just how many patisseries (pastry shops) and boulangeries (bakeries) were in Paris-- I'm pretty sure you can't go a block without seeing one! Everything looked and smelled delicious, and I guarantee you if I weren't Paleo/Primal, I would've eaten everything in sight. Paris is a carb-lover's heaven!
It's also a cheese-lover's heaven-- I absolutely love French cheese (I've always been a huge fan of Brie and Munster; but after trying Camembert this week, that might be my new favorite), and I'm pretty sure I ate more cheese in those five days in France than I have in the last few months. I think it's fantastic that you can order cheese for dessert-- the plate usually comes with a few little slices of cheese and some lettuce. Nom! (Okay, so cheese isn't technically Paleo, but it falls into what Mark Sisson calls the "Primal gray area." For more information on this lifestyle and cheese, check out some of Mark's links: The Definitive Guide to Dairy, Would Grok Chow the Cheese Plate?, and Is Cheese Unhealthy?)

Bakeries and pastry shops aren't frequent in Edinburgh or my area of Philadelphia (NYC is a different story... my childhood was black & white cookies from Hot & Crusty, and now those cupcake stores are all the rage), and it's actually quite difficult for me to find real butter and full-fat cheese here in Scotland... so how is it that the French are so much healthier than the Americans and Scottish? How is it that the French can live on heavy cream, butter, and cheese (because, y'know, fat is so bad for you, and low-fat soy products are the way to go) and still have lower rates of heart disease than many other countries who eat less fat?

It's the French paradox... which really isn't a paradox if you know that fat doesn't make you fat or cause heart disease. And although we know that bread products are bad (and actually do make you sick and fat), the French have a totally different food culture than the US or UK. In French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano explains all of this-- after spending a year in the US for high school, she went back to France much heavier after experiencing the American food culture (or lack thereof...). Her book explains how she lost the weight by following traditional French food values (such as small portions, no snacking, fresh ingredients, sitting down and savoring your meal, and drinking a lot of water), which will keep you [relatively] healthy for life. The French aren't low-fat obsessed, they don't super-size (despite the amount of McDonald's around... check out this NPR article about McDonald's in France), they don't go for second or third helpings, and they don't rush (or stand) through their meals.

Hmm... fresh ingredients, water, no snacking, full-fat, and savoring your meals? Sounds pretty Paleo/Primal to me! Actually, I didn't have to modify a single meal I ate in France! Not one! In the US and UK, I modify everything to make it fit with the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, so it was so nice to order straight off the menu without having to change a thing. The salads were some of the most beautiful and delicious I'd ever had; the proteins were all perfectly cooked and seasoned; the wine, cheese, and coffee were amazing. Did you know you can order hard-boiled eggs as an appetizer? How awesome-- and Paleo!-- is that?

I went to Paris and didn't have a single baguette or pastry... and no, I'm not crazy. Instead, I enjoyed cheese, beef, fresh vegetables, my family, and a beautiful city-- so who needs a croissant when you have all of that?

Quote of the Day:
"In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport." -Julia Child

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recipe: Chunky Chivey Coffee Chili

Today is the one year anniversary of Paleo at Penn! I can't thank you all enough for reading my blog and being so supportive-- this last year of blogging has been a total blast!

It seems like almost every Paleo/Primal site/blog out there has a chili recipe. Since coming to Edinburgh, I've been eating a lot of chili because A) It's awesome, and B) I can make a huge thing of it and eat it for a few days. I've made quite a few variations of it thus far, but I think I've found the perfect recipe, which combines two of my favorite things: beef and coffee. (That might sound like an odd combination, but coffee-rubbed steaks are quite popular, so I figured I'd try coffee chili... and I'm glad I did.) So here's my Chunky Chivey Coffee Chili!

Ingredients (serves about 4):
-900 g (approx. 2 lbs) minced/ground beef
-1 can tomato sauce/paste
-1 onion, chopped
-1 tomato, chopped
-6 tsp. chives, chopped
-3 tsp. chili powder
-3 tsp. paprika
-3 tsp. garlic powder (or chopped garlic)
-3 tsp. basil
-3 tsp. oregano
-4 tbsp. ground/instant coffee (I love the flavor coffee gives to this dish, but you don't have to put this much in if you want a more subtle coffee taste.)

1. Cook beef in a pot on the stove until no longer pink. Drain the fat.
2. On low heat, mix in vegetables, spices, and coffee. Cover and let simmer for 30-35 minutes. Enjoy!

Quote of the Day:
"Among the numerous luxuries of the table... coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions... is never followed by sadness, languor or debility." -Ben Franklin

Friday, February 3, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Clapshot

Clapshot is a traditional Scottish side dish made with potatoes, swedes (a.k.a. rutabaga or Swedish turnip), and chives; this is also known as "neeps and tatties." Since I don't eat regular potatoes (and I know many of you don't as well), I decided to make this with sweet potatoes... then add my own spin to it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
-1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled
-1 large swede/rutabaga, peeled and cut into small chunks
-3 tsp. chives
-2 tbsp. butter
-salt and pepper, to taste

1. Boil the sweet potatoes and swede in separate pans until cooked.
2. Drain the water and combine in one pot. Add in the butter. (Optional: Pour in a little heavy whipping cream for a creamier texture.)
3. Mash the sweet potatoes and swede together until smooth. Stir in the chives and a little salt and/or pepper... and serve! (Optional: Garnish with more chives.)

For a not-so-traditional version, add in the following:
-1/2 an onion, finely chopped
-2 tsp. basil
-2 tsp. oregano
-1 tsp. garlic powder (or finely chopped garlic)

Quote of the Day:
"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." -La Rochefoucauld