Tag Archives: paleo diet

Dude, Paleo Is So Rad

I spend my days, Monday through Friday, staring at books on a screen. Then I come home and stare at actual books— or Book TV, blogs, or other reading material that feeds my addiction. In the course of a day, the publishing world marketeers have great fun with me, sticking ads for all kinds of books in my face in the hopes that I will buy them— which I do, to the tune of almost a couple million dollars a year, but only children’s and teens’ books. However, the ads I see are for all kinds of books, and if I’m particularly interested, I’ll look them up.

wild dietLast week, a new Paleo book came out, and since I am a low-carber, I had to take a peek. Paleo is a diet and lifestyle that emphasizes eating food the way our very distant (as in, pre-row crop agriculture) ancestors did, as well as strength training, rather than aerobic exercise. The new book is called The Wild Diet, by Abel James, and as I continued to search, I saw that Mr. James has a website with a blog and a long series of podcasts. I sent a reminder to my home email so that I could listen later, since I doubt that my employer would be able to see a connection between Paleo bio-hackers and Pete the Cat.

Abel James is known as the Fat Burning Man, as seen on his website www.fatburningman.com, where he tells his life story and interviews all sorts of other health-conscious types. I listened to the podcast with Mark Divine, a former Navy Seal and founder of Sealfit, and they talked about de-stressing and the importance of life beyond biceps and burpees. I also listened to the one with Dr. Alan Christianson about thyroid, since hypothyroidism seems to be an epidemic among women these days.

Abel James

Abel James

The next day, I looked around at Paleo in general and found Robb Wolf, who wrote The Paleo Solution Diet five whole years ago, and who also happens to have a website with podcasts, called, very simply, www.robbwolf.com. When I looked at his latest podcast, guess what! It was Abel James. Apparently, it’s a very tight little world out there in PaleoLand. James has a great story to tell, though. He was a sickly child, but his mother, who was a nurse, understood nutrition and herbal medicine very well, and he grew up to thrive. Then he went to work in D.C. for the evil food industry and had to eat the foods he represented, and consequently, he became weak and sick. His doctor continued to give him more and more medication, until he didn’t know if his symptoms were caused by a disease or his medication. (This is uncomfortably familiar to me.) He was also placed on a low-fat, “heart-healthy” diet and felt worse every day. In the meantime, his brother, who was tall and scrawny at 140 pounds, started lifting weights and eating the high-protein and fat diet common to body-builders, and gained 60 pounds of pure muscle. Abel started to do some research, tried Paleo, and is in the best shape ever. I found it fascinating that he could not tell the whole story in his first book, because he was still under the non-disclosure agreements that he signed for the food industry! I think he got to reveal more in The Wild Diet, just because enough time has gone by. Can’t wait to get the scoop there.

These guys are so smart, with years of scientific information about nutrition and strength training, but their world is so testosterone-soaked it is hilarious sometimes. They can go from a meaningful exchange about some obscure chemical in the body to a conversation that sounds something like this:

“So, we were out there bouldering, man,…”

“Dude, that is so rad.”


By the time we got to the end of the podcast this morning, I was wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, but my husband thought it was great, which is so terrific! Let’s face it, most diet and exercise books are for women/ by women, so getting guys into caring about health is an achievement. Granted, most of these men are on the radical fringe of health, bio-hacking with measured amounts of coffee with coconut oil or “intermittent fasting,” which is probably not a spiritual exercise. However, they are getting into the deep weeds of biological research, and we can benefit from their discoveries without all the discomfort. Furthermore, what guy doesn’t want to hear about mud runs and dead lifts and bouldering, whatever all that may be? Totally.

Ladies, the Fat Burning Man website does have recipes and articles on misleading food labels and such, so it really is interesting. But guys, there is also a podcast called “100 Awesome Ways to Eat Bacon.”

Haven’t you clicked over there yet?

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Filed under Books and reading, Food, Men and Women

Against All Grain, by Danielle Walker

ImageAs you can tell by my reviews, I am thrilled by all of the new grain-free cookbooks out there that are using natural, whole foods instead of the lab-created concoctions of the early Atkins phase of the low-carb revolution. This week, the library received a brand-new Paleo-related cookbook that is both gorgeous and inspiring!

Danielle Walker, blogger extraordinaire (http://www.againstallgrain.com/) has assembled 150 or so of her favorite recipes, some from her blog, but most revealed for the first time. Do visit the lovely blog; it makes me long for a webmaster. Danielle has quite a story. She was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis in her early twenties, and there are some pictures that illustrate just how ill she really was. Obviously, from her blooming health here on the cover of her book, you can see that she overcame her disease and has learned a great deal about food and nutrition since then.

Now to the recipes—yum! One of my cookbook requirements is a picture for every recipe, and this book has such fabulous pictures that I had to eat my lunch half an hour early when I was perusing it at work! My tummy started rumbling, so I had to start stuffing in romaine leaves and pretending they were Seafood, Chorizo, and Chicken Paella. Danielle includes everything from breakfast to cocktails— Blueberry Waffles to Mango Mule— with an entire chapter devoted to kid-pleasing dishes that will help your little ones to develop a love of wholesome ingredients. I think the Toddler-Approved Vegetable Curry would please me, too!

As a diabetic, I will warn you that Ms. Walker does not have blood sugar problems, so in some of her recipes she uses honey, maple syrup, bananas, dates, orange juice, and other no-nos for those of us whose pancreases will not cooperate. If it won’t change the texture of the recipe (i.e., reducing the amount of liquid), you may be able to substitute stevia or the sweetener of your choice. I have gotten pretty adept at this sort of thing, and even though it may take some experimentation, I can usually adjust the recipe appropriately.

An unforeseen by-product of reading this and Melissa McGee’s book (see review on Satisfying Eats in this blog) is that I have put another item in my Amazon shopping cart, one of my favorite pastimes that I told you about a couple of weeks ago. Ms. Walker shows pictures of what looks amazingly like pasta in these pictures, but what is actually zucchini noodles, created by the Paderno World Cuisine A4982799 Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer, more conveniently known as a Zoodle. Or maybe it’s a Zoodler and the noodles are Zoodles. Anyhow, it can make noodles out of any vegetable and nearly any fruit. If you take a notion, you may buy it for me for Christmas.

ImageI have only had this book for a couple of days, but so far I have tried two recipes. The first one was N’Oatmeal Cookies. With the sort of sweetener substitution for diabetics described above, they were delicious. Spicy and munchy. We sampled them during a South Carolina Gamecocks football game and we won, so they must also be lucky cookies.

ImageSecondly, I made the Currant Scones. Now, I have enjoyed scone recipes in other grain-free cookbooks, most notably the Cranberry Scones in The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, which I have reviewed here, but they are fun, fancy scones. I am actually a bit of a scone snob. I grew up next to an Irish family—by which I do not mean of Irish descent, like my family, but the parents were actually from Ireland—and they had tea every afternoon. Somehow, I managed to show up on time quite often. I learned to make scones from my friend, Eithne, and I still have her handwritten recipe. Unfortunately, I can’t eat regular scones anymore, so I’ve been on the hunt for an authentic-tasting recipe for some time. These did the trick! You may notice that there are no currants. I was fresh out and too lazy to go to the store, and I’d used all of my dried cranberries on the N’Oatmeal Cookies. In any case, this is the taste I was looking for: mildly sweet and a perfect vehicle for apricot jam. Ms. Walker has a recipe for Lemon Curd, too, so I will give that a shot in the future.

One positive result of the Paleo movement and the recent scientific research on wheat and other grains is that people are beginning to understand that this way of eating is not a short-term diet, but rather a complete way of life. Ms. Walker emphasizes this in her book, and even tailors the recipes to fit the diets of people with various chronic conditions, such as ulcerative colitis and other gastrointestinal diseases. Most of the recipes are dairy-free or have alternative ingredients for dairy-free results, and she has symbols on each recipe to denote whether it is egg-free, nut-free, Specific Carbohydrate-compatible, or vegan. But don’t worry: this is not a medical journal. It is a very beautiful and useful cookbook that just happens to make people well while they feast.

I will definitely be buying this one.

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.


Filed under Book Reviews, Diabetes, Food

Three New Paleo Cookbooks

I am always on the lookout for new recipes, and one of the popular diets that often intersects with low-carb cooking is the Paleo Diet. There are new resources for this way of life hitting the market all the time, and our library just received a slew of them. One that we have not yet seen is Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry, Elana being a longtime gluten-free blogger that a friend of mine has enjoyed for years. While we wait, here are three of the latest.

Paleo cookbooks today are more sophisticated than the early attempts, and as such, they are more apt to roam far afield in their use of ingredients, as if avoiding the Deadly Whites (flour, sugar, rice, etc.) is the biggest qualification for the prehistoric digestive system. The Mason & Staley cookbook Gather, for example, is heavy in the use of arrowroot, which boasts 113 grams of carbohydrate per cup. I must ask the question: Did prehistoric man have copious groves of arrowroot growing around the cave? Does arrowroot even grow in groves? Maple syrup, also, seems to have been in abundant supply, so I’m thinking that Paleolithic man must have lived in New England or Canada. Throw in all of the coconut aminos, endive, and macadamia nut oil, and one might conclude that some of these recipes are aimed at your metrosexual-type caveman.

Be that as it may, these are three very different Paleo cookbooks, all useful and one even very elegant. Very nice if you’re bored with roasting your mastodon the same old way every night.

ImageThe Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way, by Arsy Vartanian. This is a lovely, big cookbook with a picture on almost every two-page spread. The recipes are mostly meat-related, of course, with flavors from around the world: Chinese, Indian, Bulgarian, French, Italian, and so on. By and large, the ingredients are items you work with daily, along with typical Paleo ingredients, such as coconut milk. So many people are lactose-intolerant these days that coconut milk is easily available. I did spot some kaffir lime leaves, though, and I have no idea what those are. Happy hunting. It is a little disconcerting to have the live animal in an adorable picture before each new meat section, particularly the “Aww!”-inspiring lamb, but I guess that keeps us carnivores honest. I really think you crock pot enthusiasts will like this one.

ImageThe 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley. More than just a cookbook, this is a guide for those who are considering the Paleo Diet and need a primer with 75 recipes attached. A large paperback that begins with inspirational success stories and an explanation of the diet that cover the first 50 pages, this title is a very useful manual with tips, meal plans, and shopping guides. The recipes are laid out on two-page spreads with a picture on each recipe. Can you tell that pictures are important to me? I’ll rarely make a recipe if I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. Very nice recipes with mostly everyday ingredients, although I did spot some Himalayan sea salt on one list. The degree of exotic runs from the simple Smoky Country Ribs to Fajita Lettuce Wraps with Chipotle Aioli. New Paleos will be off to a solid start, and veterans can pick up some great new ideas.

ImageGather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley (again). This gorgeous, glossy cookbook fills a real gap in the whole Paleo lifestyle: how to entertain and celebrate occasions with non-Paleo types, all with style and beauty. If The 30 Day Guide is beginner Paleo, this is advanced. Filled with photographs of elegant table settings and jubilant family members, Gather is arranged as a year of occasions: tea parties in spring, a tropical getaway in summer, a spooky supper in the fall, and a hunter-gatherer feast in the winter, just to name a few. After a thoughtful introductory section about planning gatherings in general, each event begins with a description, a menu, and a page of “shopping and preparation,” with instructions for make-ahead details. For example, the “Takeout Fake-Out” has activities for three days ahead, one day ahead, and one hour before dinner. The recipes follow. No problem with a lack of photos of the food here. While most of the recipes contain fairly common ingredients, some do have either seriously Paleo or seriously foodie items. Low carbers beware, too. Lots of arrowroot flour and maple syrup. They do offer substitutions sometimes, though, such as “if you don’t have wahoo,…” or “if you don’t have chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar,….” I don’t, actually, although the vinegar sounds good. This is a fabulous cookbook for those who plan to make the Paleo diet a permanent feature of their lives, but who want to continue to feast with friends and family without feeling limited or deprived. Beautiful.

Disclaimer: I read library copies of all of these cookbooks. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Diabetes, Food