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Paleo Solution on “Wylde on Health”

March 27, 2011

Robb Wolf, the author of my latest read, Paleo Solution is making an appearance on Wylde on Health as we speak!  Tune to CP24 to catch the last episode at 11am or watch it later here.  Just scroll down to September 17th and watch the four segments.

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Paleo Challenge: mission accomplished!

March 27, 2011
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Thirty days of eating like a caveman have come and gone (with the exception of using utensils).

When we started the Paleo challenge back in February, I assumed that on day 31 I would be jamming cookies and pasta down my throat as soon as the clock struck midnight.  This was hardly the case.

Keith and I tossed around a few ideas on how we would celebrate the occasion, and were convinced that we would dive face first into pizza or something else we had been ‘deprived of’ for thirty days.  Surprisingly, the urge just wasn’t strong enough.

I was perfectly satisfied with a salmon cake and fruit for breakfast, then fish with veggies for lunch.  Our real ‘treat’ was a trip to Chipotle where I ‘indulged’ in a massive…rice bowl (bor-ing).   Yep.  The first non-Paleo food item I put in my mouth was plain ol’ RICE.  I licked the bowl clean but it was with mixed emotions.  There was a sense of pride because I opted for something healthy even though I was free (no cheese, sour cream or nachos).  That was coupled by disappointment because my first ‘cheat meal’ was hardly as exciting as I dreamt it would be.

Yet, the day was not done.  Nor was the celebration.  So when we got home I rounded up the ingredients for a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake – a healthier alternative to your average Betty Crocker cake.  It saved the day and you will love me for this recipe (which is a variation of the one I linked to here), when I post it in a few days.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Back to the 30-day challenge….

Being limited to Paleo foods for a month was a heck of a lot easier than I anticipated.  I was rarely hungry (thanks to the protein) and rarely craved anything sweet (thanks to the low carbohydrates).   We did encounter a few situations that required unrelenting willpower.  For one, we attended a one-year old’s birthday party and had to turn down a homemade, decadent, chocolate banana cake.  On St. Paddy’s Day, I had to retreat to my desk while co-workers enjoyed green beer, pizza and mint ice cream smoothies in the office kitchen.  The key is to avoid situations like these at all costs.  Depending on your individual strength, you made need to lock yourself indoors and live like a hermit for 30-days.  We cooked A LOT and found a bunch of recipes that kept things interesting with the same old protein and veggies.

My eats:

About half way through the challenge I started documenting everything that I ate or drank.  People seem to be interested in what we’re eating everyday, so I posted my Food Journal here for the last few weeks and days following the challenge.

Paleo 30-Day Challenge – Food Journal

A few things you’ll notice:

  • I’m a true grazer, taking bites of something every few hours
  • I eat WAY too many nuts (they are good for you but not in excess!)
  • Reference to a few great dishes for which the recipes will follow
  • Odd combinations of foods at odd hours of the day

My cheats:

  • A handful of sweet potato fries
  • Glass of red wine (on 6 occasions)
  • Agave (damn that Pseudo-Paleo Pumpkin Pie!)
  • Rice (attempting to strip rice out of hand rolls got a little labour intensive while eating sushi…not to mention embarrasing)
  • A tiny bite of cake during the last weekend of the diet (it was for our wedding – how could I say no?!)

My deets:

I wish I could tell you that this 30-day challenge completely changed my life and I had a moving story to share.  But I can’t.  I noticed changes/improvements, but they were not as impressive as others you read about.  Reason being, the diet was fairly similar to how I’d already been eating with just a few additional omissions (grains and legumes).   Here’s what I noticed:

  • Overall, we just felt good (good energy, good health, good digestion, etc)
  • Better and deeper sleep (although, that might have something to do with CrossFit and the morning workouts)
  • Flatter tummy (very little bloating)
  • Improved digestion (I won’t get into the details here)
  • Subdued hunger – you feel fuller longer (there were times when I had no appetite and was satisfied with much smaller meals)
  • Improved skin (for many years, my complexion had a yellow-ish undertone, which my family so kindly points out every time I see them.  I’ve been informed that I look healthier and my ‘jaundice’ is gone).
  • Keith had zero headaches and also lost a few inches (we didn’t measure him day 1 but it’s quite obvious)
  • Leaner and more toned (this is also partly a product of CrossFit).  Below are my measurements before and after.

I can’t believe I’m posting this for all to see, but I think it’s worth sharing.

The countdown may be over but I’m not ready to say farewell to the Paleo diet.  Based on the research I’ve seen, I’m convinced that the Paleo lifestyle is one we want to follow for optimal health and disease prevention.  On a personal level, it addresses some of my own health issues (i.e. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and minimizes the risk of family health problems (i.e. thyroid dysfunction, diabetes).  Knowing what I know now and how it could impact my health, I need to be more diligent with what I eat and how I exercise.

Will I follow this 100% of time?  I wish I could say “yes”, but I’m human…and I live for food.  My father is a pretty smart guy and he always says, “everything in moderation”.  So I will have pasta at Nonna’s, enjoy a few drinks with the girls, and say “I do” with a big slice of wedding cake.  But I will also strive to eat the best foods majority of the time.  Following the 80/20 rule is more realistic (80% being the healthy stuff).

If you’re sick of hearing the “P” word, I apologize. You’re going to see and hear a lot more “Paleo” from me in the posts to come.  I’ve only got my feet wet.

Paleo Desserts: a hit and a miss

March 19, 2011

People seem to be quite impressed with how we’re keeping it together on this Paleo diet (eating meat and veggies, then veggies and meat, day after day).  Truth be told, by week two we were dying for a treat.  It wasn’t a craving for sugar as much as it was wanting to eat something snackish, that was NOT meat, fish, vegetables, fruit or nuts.  You know what I’m talking about…that urge to nibble on something “bad” after a tough day at the office (or even a good day).

Once I got the idea of making a “Paleo dessert” in my head, I couldn’t think about anything else.  I went on a mad search scouring websites and cookbooks for a “dessert” that was safe, yet satisfying.  Sadly, that’s how I spent my Friday night.  Talk about desperation.

I found two recipes posted by other Paleo bloggers that intrigued me.  One was a huge success.  The other, a complete and utter disaster.  Let’s save the best for last.

Paleo Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m begging you to never try this at home!  When I first pulled it out of the oven it looked fluffy and promising.  Seconds later, it started to collapse and I grabbed my camera just as the shrivelling process began…

The shrivelling continued until I was left with this mess…

I’ve made a lot of sugar-free/fat-free desserts in my life and most have a strong resemblance to cardboard.  This cake was spongy-er and moister than usual and we have the eggs to thank for that.   Although, the taste test didn’t go over so well.  Feeling optomistic, I took my first bite then my gag reflexes kicked in when I struggled to swallow.  Keith on the other hand, braved his way through the first piece.  The fact that it looked like chocolate cake was good enough.  Within 5 minutes he was ready for his second piece, then finished off the cake a few days later .

The person who originally posted this recipe stated “this tastes great after the first couple of days in the fridge. It needs time to settle together.” They were right.  The shriveled up loaf goes from vomit-inducing to almost edible by the second day.  If you’d like to see for yourself, here’s the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar-free cocoa powder (which is healthier than you think!)
  • 1/4 cup water or orange juice or coffee (I used water which was mistake #1)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (I did not add any sweetener, but in hindsight it may have made the difference)
  • 6 eggs divided

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients except the egg whites.
  • Fold the egg whites in at the end.
  • Cook in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes.
  • Optional: add a thin layer of “ganache” to up the chocolatey flavor if you wish by combining 75-90% chocolate with some water and drizzle on top.  I did not do this.

I really want to believe that two tablespoons of honey would salvage this recipe, but I’ll need to decide whether I want to risk wasting another 6 perfectly good eggs for potentially another disaster.

 

Pseudo Paleo Pumpkin Pie

The flourless cake turned me off of baking for the night, but by the following morning I recovered and was back in the kitchen to attempt this.  It was the highlight of my week and [mom, cover your ears] it might just be one of the best pumpkin pies I’ve ever had.   I don’t even really like pumpkin pie and I couldn’t keep my hands off this!

Howver, there is a tiny problem with this recipe; as you’ll notice, this pie isn’t 100% paleo because I used agave (which is essentially fructose).  It’s a little better if you use raw honey, but I didn’t have any on hand.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons melted organic grass-fed butter (I used coconut oil in place of butter, since we have to avoid dairy)
  • pinch of sea salt

Filling

  • 1 – 14oz can of organic pumpkin puree (nothing added, just pumpkin)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw organic honey (I used a 1/4 cup agave)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place the nuts in a food processor and process until the nuts are a flour like consistency.
  3. Pour into a small mixing bowl, add the butter (oil) and salt and mix into a thick dough.
  4. Using your hands, spread dough evenly into a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. While the crust is in the oven, whisk all of the pie filling ingredients together.
  6. Pour onto the crust after it has been baked for 10 minutes and return to the oven for additional 45 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie

I think the little brown specs are from the cloves that didn’t mix in well, but who cares what it looks like.  It tasted incredible!

This was the last slice Keith and I had to fight for and ultimately split into two itsty bitsy slivers.

I’ll be making this again shortly  without any sugar (for our last few days of the Paleo diet!).  I’ve accepted that it won’t be as good as the original, but I’m also confident that it will no be nearly as bad as the flourless chocolate cake.

Arugula, cabbage and apples…oh my!

March 15, 2011

I can’t believe I’ve been subjecting myself (and my dinner guests) to the same old spinach salad for years, knowing what I know now…that there was something more adventurous out there.  There are so many different flavours that come together in this bowl, there’s no telling how your taste buds are going to react.   Mine were saying “Thank the lord, not another spinach salad“.

Every ingredient plays a distinctive role in this bowl, so even the indecisive are satisfied.  Whether you’re craving salty (sundried tomatoes), sweet (apples), sour (lemon), spice (rosemary), crunch (cabbage), tender (arugula), there’s something for you.

Arugula gets most of the credit as the base for this salad with its peppery flavour.  There’s a nutritional bonus here – arugula packs a real punch.  For one, it’s a member of the cruciferous family (related to broccoli and cauliflower) and is higher in antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene than other lettuce varieties.  This spinach rival is also high in vitamins A and K, plus for any pregnant women out there, arugula has its fair share of folic acid.   You’ll also get a dose of zinc, potassium, calcium and iron.

Arugula Cabbage Salad

Arugula Cabbage Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1 organic apple diced
  • 3 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 4 1/2 oz julienned sun dried tomatoes with olive oil
  • 3 green onions diced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • Small handful of sliced almonds (I didn’t have any so omitted this)
  • Olive oil and black pepper to taste

If this is your side dish, you can stop here.   If it’s your main meal, let’s get some protein in the bowl to fill you up.  Add the following:

  • 6 strips of nitrate free bacon diced (cooked)
  • 2 cups of free-range organic chicken (cooked)
Instructions:
  1. In a large mixing bowl toss in the arugula, cabbage, apple, and onion.
  2. If using protein….add the chicken and bacon to the bowl while they are still warm.
  3. Top with the sun dried tomatoes, lemon juice, rosemary, and any additional olive oil and black pepper to taste.
  4. Toss the ingredients all together and serve immediately topped with a small handful of sliced almonds.
I don’t multitask well in the kitchen, so I prepped this dish in advance for a dinner I was hosting that night.   I made the dressing (sundried tomatoes, lemon juice, rosemary and oil) and poured a portion of it on the pre-cut cabbage and onions.   The benefit of doing this is that the cabbage better absorbs the flavours having marinated for a few hours.
Enjoy.

Frankly Eatery – Restaurant Review

March 14, 2011

Frankly, I should keep my mouth shut, but I thought you all deserved to know there’s an awesome eatery in town.  So awesome, it has earned a score of 100% on Urbanspoon.  Need I say more?  No, but I will anyway.

My neighbourhood just keeps getting better and better.  With every restaurant I visit and every bite I take.  Although, it seems to be the brunch spots that are winning me over, from Bonjour Brioche, to Lady Marmalade and my newest love – Frankly Eatery.

Frankly Eatery

LOCATION1118 Queen Street East (Leslieville, Toronto)

THE MENU

Frankly is truly refreshing.  Brunch spots can be predictable, but when you take those traditional dishes and infuse a little Indian flair you’ve got something people will be talking about.   Their main menu has a little bit of everything and would suffice on it’s own, but the weekend specials demonstrate how creative these guys can get.   Check it out on the right.  

Every ounce of me wanted the “Yes, Please!” special.   In particular, it was that sweet potato pancake had me at hello.  Yet, I had to say “No” while we’re still on this Paleo diet  (one more week to go!).

OUR ORDER:  

Egg Bhurji Scramble ($8.50) – My scrambled eggs were no sweet potato pancake, but I was impressed with how well the Indian flavours worked here.   The chef prepared my meal without the cream to make it dairy-free.  Even with this noticeable omission, I enjoyed every crumb AND I would order it again…Paleo style.   In fact, I’m going to attempt to remake this at home and give the standard fried egg a break.

These eggs also had some kick.  If mild salsa has you running for a glass of milk, I suggest trying something else on this menu.   You won’t be disappointed.  I ordered my eggs medium spicy and my tongue was tingling. 

Egg Bhurji Scramble

 

Pesto and Prosciutto Scramble ($9.50) –  This was Keith’s choice.  The dish was described as a “scramble with spinach basil ricotta pesto topped with prosciutto…”.  Do you see something wrong here?   Well, Keith clearly didn’t and learned something new today.  Ricotta = cheese = dairy = non-Paleo.   But let’s give the guy a break.  It was an innocent mistake.  Here’s the kicker: Keith doesn’t particularly like creamier dishes.  Although he enjoyed his meal (as evidenced by the plate licked clean) he said that he would have preferred it ricotta-free.  So he cheated by eating something he didn’t drool over.  What a waste!  

Frankly Pesto Scramble

Everyone else at the table gave their meals a thumbs up as well.   Two of them ordered the Breakfast Wrap and the other two went for the BLT.  All dishes came with a side salad and most with a baguette.

THE DAMAGE:

Very reasonably priced in comparison to some of the other places I’ve visited.  The total was $65 for six dishes and two cups of tea.   So this worked out to ~$25 per couple with tip.  

THE SCENE: 

Like most brunch spots in Leslieville, or anywhere in Toronto for that matter (chain restaurants excluded), this place was small.  Really SMALL.  There’s enough space to maneuver between tables so your butt doesn’t end up on someone’s plate, but it only seats 24 people.  When the 6 of us rolled in, the waitress (who was very pleasant) asked another table to switch spots so they could accommodate us.  How Canadian of her!  There’s no question that once this place gains a little more popularity, the line ups will start to form. 

YOU SHOULD GO IF:  

  • All of your friends are busy and you only need a table for two. 
  • You’re craving curry at 10am.
  • The plain ol’ eggs are getting tired.

Frankly Eatery on Urbanspoon

America’s Next Great Restaurant

March 13, 2011

Sunday night television tends to be a let down.   Things changed last weekend when I was flipping through the channels and happened to come across another reality TV show.  This wasn’t just any show.  It had “foodie” all over it and I was a happy girl!  

Tune into NBC right now (if you’re in my timezone) and you might catch the 2nd episode of America’s Next Great Restaurant!  

The show in a nutshell:  Twenty-one people present their restaurant concepts to the panel of judges.   One lucky contestant will get the opportunity to bring their idea to life across three cities across the United States with restaurants in New York City, Minneapolis and Hollywood.   The restaurant concepts are all over the place so you’re bound to find someone or some idea that makes your mouth water.  

Which one am I rooting for?   “Saucy Balls” –  A concept focused on meatballs (which I do love, especially on this Paleo Diet), but the name might have something to do with it as well:)

UPDATE:  The judges said so long to the Sport’s Wrap concept last night.  The idea was a little too gimmicky and the wraps (taste wise) weren’t up to snuff.

Sushi candy anyone?

March 9, 2011
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I love sushi and to my detriment, I also love sweets.  Apparently, now I can have both!   

Check out the latest Groupon for Sweet Sushi

The sushi sweets are made with puffed-rice, marshmellows, fruit leather (whatever that is) and other ingredients.   So this is FAR from Paleo eating but geesh, how could you not want to try it!   Sushi lover or not! 

Will these “rainbow rolls” go straight to your hips?   Avoid the platter and go for a piece (each can range from 21 to 49 calories).  They are also nut-free and low-fat.  The amount of sugar isn’t mentioned, and that’s for obvious reasons.   But we’re all smart people here.  The name alone – Sweet Sushi – says ‘insulin spike’ all over it.   But hey, we all deserve a little treat once in a while. 

I think I’ve got my meal set for March 21st (the day we finish our Paleo diet)…Sushi dinner followed by Sweet Sushi.   Too much?

By the way, prices range from 75 cents per piece to $80 for a 100-piece platter.