Tag Archives: paleolithic diet

Our Paleo Thanksgiving Revisited!

Thanksgiving Dinner!

As it’s a week before the big Turkey Day 2012, I wanted to share our Thanksgiving post from last year. I hadn’t really started posting recipes regularly so some of you may have missed it. Since we will be traveling to Illinois to see my family this year I won’t be cooking, but I hope you give some of these recipes a try as they were fantastic. I’ve left my original content here and added a few new comments (in italics) and pictures to some of the recipes.

This is Dr. Carrie. Dr. Court usually writes these posts but I thought it might be interesting to switch it up. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I thought it might be fun to share our menu. Normally, I don’t get the opportunity to cook on the holidays as we usually travel to be with either my family or his, but this year we decided not to go anywhere. As some of you know we eat mostly meat, eggs, vegetables and low glycemic fruit which means we try not to eat a lot of grains, sugar or processed food. I guess you could say we eat a Paleolithic diet which he has posted about in the past (see Why Eat a Paleolithic Diet?). We aren’t strictly Paleo as we do include some dairy in the form of cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and for me cream in my coffee.

Now, I grew up in a fantastic Midwestern, Standard American Diet family and it is sacrilege to not have pumpkin pie and stuffing to go with your marshmallow sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce from a can and green bean casserole. So, you can see my conundrum when it comes to preparing my own Thanksgiving dinner. Do I make the traditional dinner and call it a cheat day? But then what do we do with all of those leftovers? I mean we’re only 2 people. Or do I stick to my principles and make a “healthy” meal that’s just meat and veggies and have some fruit for dessert? Boring….that’s what we eat every day! (This year I do plan to make the Brussel Sprouts and Bacon to take to my big family dinner…they’re so good they’ll never suspect it came from a Paleo cookbook!)

I did what every American does…I Googled it! I wanted to see if there were recipes for Paleo versions of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Thanks to the Crossfitters who endorse the Paleo diet there are now tons of recipes online. I was amazed at what I found including an entire Paleo menu. I am not ashamed to admit that I am using most of the recipes from the first website I came across but how could I pass up Mushroom Butter Roasted Turkey, Beef Celery, Walnut and Apple Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Pie! If you want to see the complete menu, visit PaleoDiet Lifestyle.

After one click I had most of my menu complete. I still needed a yam recipe. I turned to my favorite Paleo recipe source EverydayPaleo.com. If you receive our email newsletter, you’ve heard me rave about Sarah Fragoso’s book Everyday Paleo. I love her recipes. They are super easy and sooooo tasty! I found a recipe for Paleo Holiday Yams right away. Of course that’s not the only recipe of hers I’m using. I made one from the book called Brussel Sprouts ‘n’ Bacon a few weeks ago and wanted to have it again. I also really wanted to try a recipe she calls “meat candy” aka Sausage Stuffed Dates for an appetizer. (I made these already. I tried to resist but they kept calling my name…they are AMAZING!)

Here is our complete Thanksgiving menu (pics below):

Appetizer:

  • Sausage Stuffed Dates

Dinner:

  • Mushroom Butter Roasted Turkey
  • Beef, Celery, Walnut and Apple Stuffing
  • Paleo Holiday Yams
  • Brussel Sprouts ‘n’ Bacon
  • Cranberry Sauce

Dessert:

  • Pumpkin Pie with coconut milk ice cream!

We’ll let you know how it all turns out. So far, so good! The Sausage Stuffed Dates are a winner but I haven’t tried anything else. I have to save something for tomorrow. We have a lot of food to eat so it’s a good thing we’re going to Turkey Torcher at KDR Fitness tomorrow morning. (I’m bummed to miss the Turkey Torcher this year. It was a blast last year and a great way to kick of Thanksgiving Day! I think there are only 2 spots left but you should contact KDR Fitness if you are local and interested in participating.)

Your family might appreciate one of these recipes at your next holiday dinner! I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving Dinner be it Paleo or Traditional.

In the spirit of the season we are so Thankful for each and every one of our blog readers and patients. Your questions, comments and feedback are always appreciated and welcomed.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sausage Stuffed Dates

I’ve made these little gems a number of time since last Thanksgiving. They’ve become a requested appetizer for get togethers! This was the large version but you can also make a smaller one bite version that’s just as addictive! (Sausage isn’t something that we recommend you eat a lot of as it typically has a lot of preservatives, but it’s fine to have once in a while especially if you buy an organic, preservative free version.)

Mushroom Butter Roasted Turkey

While the mushrooms on this turkey turned out a little crispy it tasted fantastic! I think I left it uncovered a bit too long.

Beef, Celery, Walnut and Apple Stuffing

This stuffing was so good that I’d make it as a meal! I’m glad I revisited this post so that I can do that! The texture is close to regular stuffing but a little different. Now in my family they usually make dressing, so the texture is quite different from that but it has all the right flavors!

Paleo Holiday Yams

These were yummy and reminded me of traditional holiday yams. With on a 1/4 cup of maple syrup they were sweet! You could probably just drizzle a little on there or leave it off entirely if you wanted.

Brussel Sprouts ‘n’ Bacon

I’ve also made these a number of times since last year! They’re tasty! I’m making them for my family for Thanksgiving this year.

(P.S. I’m also making my family Paleo Breakfast Bread and Chunky Apple Muffins to have at my baby shower…don’t tell! I don’t think they ever know they taste so good!)

Cranberry Sauce

Some how I forgot to take a picture of the cranberry sauce. It was good but of all the things I made last year I would tweak this recipe a bit. It was really tart. I would maybe take the maple syrup out of the yams and add it to the Cranberry Sauce.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Oh, now this was a hard one. I love pumpkin pie! My family loves my pumpkin pies and my grandfather used to request my pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving. Now that’s a big deal because my grandmother was an amazing cook! So, when it came to pumpkin pie it was hard to decide if I’d try something new or stick to the traditional. I ended up trying something new and was not disappointed! It was really good. It’s a little different but all the flavor that I love was there!

I encourage you to give one or all of these recipes a try for your Thanksgiving Dinner next week.  I think you and your family will be pleasantly surprised at how delicious they are and how great you feel when you’re not loaded down with all that bread and sugar. I know we felt great last year!

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Why eat a Paleolithic diet

Stone Age. Detail 1

Paleolithic humans.

Diet crazes come and go. A quick search of the internet and you’ll see a bunch of them.  There’s the all-cookie diet, the one day diet, the three day diet, the Hollywood diet, the lemonade diet, the cabbage soup diet and many more.  The point is, most of them are not based on anything scientific other than the fact that significantly lowering calories generally results in weight loss.  While that might be true, it does not mean it’s healthy.

The diet that I routinely recommend to my patients is the paleolithic diet.  This is not a ‘diet’ in the way that most people think about a diet.  This is not designed specifically as a way to lose weight.  However, if you are overweight eating this way will likely help you lose weight.

I like to use the word ‘diet’ by its most simple definition – food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health. Think of the word diet simply as the type of food you put in your mouth.  Don’t think of diet as something people do when they want to lose weight.

A paleolithic diet incorporates certain types of foods and restricts others. From a scientific and evolutionary standpoint the paleolithic diet makes perfect sense. The paleolithic diet focuses on meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils

The paleolithic era in human history began about 2.5 million years ago and ended about 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture.  Over that period human beings evolved with a very specific diet. Up until 10,000 years ago humans were hunter gatherers.  They moved with the herds of animals and ate a diet high in animal protein and vegetables and fruit.  Grains were nonexistent in their diets because the farming techniques did not exist to grow and process grain.

So what does this have to do with you? Our genetic code has changed very little (if at all) since the end of the paleolithic era, yet our diets have changed substantially. Our bodies were designed to process meats, vegetables and fruits in high amounts.  They were not designed to process grains in high amounts.

Current dietary recommendations in which people ‘should get 6-10 servings of whole grains per day’ is in direct conflict with how we’ve evolved over the last 2 million plus years. Diets high in grain products lead to many health concerns including high triglycerides in the blood and diabetes.

You must consider what our ancestors consumed and how that drove natural selection.  Prehistoric humans at a diet consisting of lots of protein, fruits and vegetables and virtually no grain.  This drove evolution and genes were selected or deleted from the genetic code based on this type of diet and what traits were most advantageous for survival.  The ability to process high amounts of carbohydrate is not an ability that was likely to be selected and passed from offspring to offspring because it was not essential.

Today, unfortunately, we have a food guide pyramid that flies in the face of evolution and recommends too much carbohydrate and not enough protein and fat.

My rules for my patients are simple:

1. Eat lots and lots of vegetables.
2. Eat lots and lots of low glycemic fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, pears, etc.)
3. Eat as many nuts and seeds as you want.
4. Keep dairy products to a small part of the diet, but yogurt and/or cottage cheese daily is okay. If you choose to consume milk make it raw milk.
5. Salt your food to taste, but do not eat processed foods as they are extremely high in salt.
6. Have protein at every meal – eggs, steak, pork, fish, chicken, turkey, buffalo, alligator, ostrich, whatever – it’s all good.
7. Eat regularly – eat every 3 hours. Remember, even if you’re not exercising your brain requires tons of energy and in a constant supply.  Your brain consumes energy at a rate that is equal to that of the energy used by a human leg muscle running a marathon!
8. Exercise! The importance of regular exercise cannot be over stated.  Our ancestors moved constantly! You must move!

If you follow these rules, you will have a healthy life free of the diseases of modern civilization such as diabetes and heart disease.  You might just lose a little weight as well!

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Quick! Get that kid some bacteria!

I recently came across an article that got my interest for a couple of reasons.  The article was about allergies and how many health practitioners are reporting an increase in the number of children they are seeing with allergies.  I agree.  In my office I see several children whose parent’s only complaint is their child’s allergies.  The second reason for my interest was one of the proposed reasons for this – an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

The number of kids with food allergies went up 18 percent from 1997 to 2007, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 3 million children younger than 18 had a food or digestive allergy in 2007, the CDC said.  These numbers are high and seem to be rising rapidly in rich, industrialized countries like the U.S. and Britain.  In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that visits to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital Boston for allergic reactions more than doubled from 2001 to 2006.

In my practice I have always contended that the Western diet and lifestyle plays a major role in the development of allergies in our children.  Now a small Italian study seems to confirm what I have postulated.

My theory has always been that the combination of being overly clean and eating diets high in refined carbohydrates and other allergenic foods has caused a massive immune imbalance.  This imbalance leads to over activation of the entire immune system resulting in reactions that range from minor annoyances to life threatening.

A study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compared the gut bacteria from 15 children in Florence, Italy, with gut bacteria in 14 children in a rural African village in Burkina Faso. They found that the variety of flora in these two groups was substantially different.

The children in the African village live in a community that produces its own food. The study authors say this is closer to how humans ate 10,000 years ago. Their diet is mostly vegetarian. By contrast, the local diet of European children contains more sugar, animal fat and calorie-dense foods. The study authors posit that these factors result in less biodiversity in the organisms found inside the gut of European children.

Now, in my opinion, it has very little to do with the fact that this African culture eats very little meat and simply with the fact that they consume a more natural, raw diet.  This leads to a more favorable balance of bacteria in the gut because of exposure.

Why are these bacteria important?

The bacteria in our gut work symbiotically with our systems in order to help us survive.  It is a true symbiotic relationship in that neither one of us (the bacteria or the person) would survive without the other.  They are important because they help digest certain proteins, help up absorb certain vitamins and minerals and perhaps most importantly with regards to allergies, maintains gut wall integrity or permeability.

Gut wall integrity is crucially important in not only preventing allergies but maintaining the health of the entire immune system.  So what happens when the balance of good bacteria changes in the gut?  Good question.

As the balance begins to be altered, the permeability of the gut begins to increase. Our digestive systems are designed to absorb a lot of things, but these things must be fully digested and of the appropriate size to be absorbed.  When our system becomes overly permeable, proteins that are undigested or are partially digested may get absorbed into our blood stream.  This is problematic.

Proteins are simply chains of amino acids linked together.  A small chain of amino acids is called a peptide.  A larger chain of amino acids or several peptides linked together is called a protein.  When we consume a hamburger, for example, the proteins are large and may be thousands of amino acids long.  It is the job of our intestinal tract to break down each and every one of those proteins into its individual components or amino acids.  If this does not happen, then peptides are what remain.  This is not problematic unless you have high gut permeability or a leaky gut. This leaky gut, from abnormal bacterial balance, now absorbs these peptides into the blood stream.

Why are these peptides a problem?  Because your body doesn’t recognize them as useful.  Your body recognizes amino acids as helpful.  Amino acids are often referred to as building blocks because they are used for so many things in the body.  That is precisely the reason the digestive system is designed to break down proteins into these components.  Peptides are not recognized and therefore the body sees them as foreign invaders and generates an immune response, or allergy, to them.  For some people this response is minor (itchy eyes, runny nose, hives, etc.) and for others it is life threatening (anaphylaxis).

Gluten, the protein from wheat, rye, oats and barley and casein, the protein from milk are notorious for being broken down incompletely in the gut and causing allergic reactions.  They are the most common simply because they are two of the most commonly consumed foods in the world (wheat and milk products).

What can I do to help myself or my child?

There are many things you can do.  First and foremost eliminate any food that you know causes you an issue. Secondly, you may consider having an allergy test.  This is important because many people are allergic to things they aren’t aware of.  An allergy test should also include food sensitivities. These are reactions to foods that don’t necessarily generate a full immune response in your body but do initiate a response on a lower level.  These are important to know because reducing your total allergic load is critical for helping you overcome your major allergies.

Also, take a digestive enzyme that is high in protease.  A protease in an enzyme that breakdown protein.  If you take this with a meal it will help insure that all proteins are properly digested.

Last, but certainly not least, take a probiotic.  A probiotic will help restore the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut and help you maintain the integrity of you gut wall.  This will insure that the permeability is appropriate and you are not absorbing micronutrients that your immune system views as dangerous.

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