Thursday, 27 September 2012

Nut and Raisin Muffins

You will need:
30g coconut flour (tiana do a good one)
30g butter or coconut oil melted
2 tablespoons coconut milk
3 medium eggs beaten
¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
¼ teaspoon gluten free baking powder
3 tablespoons honey
25g raisins
25g chopped mixed nuts
¼ teaspoon salt
Handful sunflower seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 for fan oven)
Blend together the eggs, honey, coconut oil/butter, coconut milk, vanilla essence, raisins, walnuts and salt
Combine baking powder with the coconut flour and whisk into the batter until there are no lumps
Pour batter into greased muffin tin or muffin cases (silicone are good)
Sprinkle with sunflower seeds
Bake for 15 minutes

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Shepherds pie with butternut squash mash and cabbage and fennel side

You will need:
750g minced beef (grass fed if possible)
I large red onion chopped small
I rounded tablespoon corn flour
I rounded tablespoon tomato puree
1 rounded tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
450g sugar free stock
1 very large butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks
1 savoy cabbage shredded
1 fennel bulb chopped small
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Dry fry the mince and onion until the mince is browned
Stir in flour, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce
Add stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Steam butternut squash for 15 minutes until soft.
Mash squash with one tablespoon of coconut oil
Put mince mixture into 3-4 individual dishes or one large dish
Layer mashed squash on the top and top with a little grated cheese if you eat dairy
Put into the oven and set the timer for 25-30 minutes
Wrap fennel bulb in foil with a little coconut oil and put on baking tray into the oven
10 minutes before the end of cooking time steam the cabbage
Mix the cabbage and fennel together and toss with a tablespoon of coconut oil
Note: the flour and worcestershire sauce are not strictly paleo diet friendly but in such small quantities they are worth adding for the flavour and texture of the dish

Monday, 24 September 2012

Macadamia Nut Houmous (Hummus)

Recipe for Macadamia Nut Houmous

100 g Macadamia Nuts
50 g sunflower seeds
2 garlic cloves peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive/avocado oil
120 ml water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Place the macademia nuts, sunflower seeds, garlic, lime juice and oil in a food processer and blend together

Add half of the water, the tarragon, and the salt and pepper and blend until smooth

Add the remaining water a little at a time whilst continuing to blend to achieve a thick smooth paste

Transfer to 3 or 4 small bowls, cover and refridgerate for at least 30 minutes before serving

The houmous will keep for 5 days in the fridge so you eat one and keep the others for packed lunches/snacks

You may want to omit the garlic if you are using this for lunch and work with other people!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

So what exactly does eating a primal/paleo diet mean to me and how do I make it work?

When I say I eat a primal/paleo diet what I actually mean is that I embrace the principals, wholeheartedly believe that it is the right way to eat for health and weight loss and maintenance and then adapt it to suit my body and my lifestyle. Some aspects of the primal diet I have totally taken on board, some I am still working on; the rest I probably will stick with what I am already doing which seems to be working. And I guess this is the way most people who are trying to clean up their diet work although there are the so called purists who may say that their way is the only way, the primal/paleo diet fascists!!

A quick recap of what primal/paleo eating is all about; basically eating a diet similar to the one we would have eaten as hunter gatherers before the agricultural revolution and certainly before Tesco and Sainsburys! It's based on fresh unprocessed foods, mainly meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds and good fats (check out tomorrow's post on what are classed as good fats and what should be avoided). It may sound limited but it's surprising how many fantastic tasty dishes you can make using these ingredients. Hunter gatherers would probably have eaten insects too but most people following this diet (but not all!!) would draw the line at eating ants and grubs!

So, that is what you can eat, what about what you can't eat? (or rather I like to think of it as choosing not to eat). In a strict/pure paleo diet grains, dairy, legumes, refined sugars, white potatoes and all processed foods are out. This may seem like a daunting list to some people; as this is an eating plan for life and not just for a period of time in order to lose some weight then it is important that you can live with it long term.

OK, so how do I live with it long term, in fact more than living with it I am loving it? Firstly I embrace the 80/20 rule, generally sticking to my primal diet during the week, then maybe on Friday or Saturday having something I wouldn't normally have but really enjoy such as a couple of glasses of wine or a bowl of crisps. Secondly I make my paleo meals as tasty as I can so I always enjoy my food. Probably most importantly I eat enough to ensure I am not hungry between meals so I am cutting food cravings and the temptation to binge.

For me the foods that I will avoid mostly are grains, sugar and articfical sweetners, and processed foods. I do eat some dairy, mainly full fat natural yogurt and small amounts of cheese, especially goats cheese and halloumi cheese. This seems to work OK for me although some people may have allergies to dairy.

The aspect of the diet I am still working on is the belief that all food should be in it's most natural state, in other words free range, grass fed and organic. This would mean that meat would be grass fed, free range and organic, poultry free range and organic, dairy would be raw and unpasturised, eggs free range and organic and all vegetables organic. In the real world this makes food much more expensive especially when you are feeding a family of four. So, some of our food does follow this principal and some doesn't; I get an organic veg box delivered and buy organic fruit, some of our meat comes from a butcher that does provide grass fed and organic meat and some of it comes from a supermarket.

Food has and always will be a big important part of my life, I have never been one of those people who eats to live! By following the primal/paleo principals I have found that I can enjoy lots of very tasty foods whilst staying lean, fit and healthy. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Confessions of an eternal dieter....and why eating paleo/primal has finally stopped the yoyo dieting

My history with dieting started many years ago when I was 16 and at college. I was a normal healthy weight, maybe with a little 'puppy fat'. Other girls around me were starting to talk about weight loss and dieting and I jumped on the bandwagon, not realising what far reaching consequences this would have on my life.

I was a classic yoyo dieter, and would obsessively count calories for weeks, losing about half a stone and then suddenly my self control would snap and I would binge eat and put it all back on again. Luckily my binging and dieting never developed into a serious eating disorder and my weight would only change by 7 - 10lbs either side, but even so it was enough that I had clothes that I considered 'fat' clothes and those I could only wear when I was dieting.

This pattern continued into my twenties and early thirties. By this time I had become very interested in health and nutrition and decided to become a vegetarian. I embarked on what I thought was a very healthy diet of huge amounts of vegetables and fruits and lots of beans, legumes and of course typical carb rich veggie foods like pasta bakes.  I didn't eat meat for about 6 years until I became pregnant with twins at 40 and five months into the pregnancy craved meat so badly that my husband had to take me out for dinner for a hearty lamb stew! I began eating meat again as I recognised that my body was telling me what it needed and that was probably the first time I properly listened and gave it what it really needed.

After a successful but fairly gruelling pregnancy and with two babies to look after I tended to eat more or less what I wanted but still with an eye on what was considered heathy eating, ie whole grain carbs making up a good part of my diet with plenty of fruit and veg. I avoided fats like butter, full fat milk and yogurt substituting them for low fat versions. I did lose my baby fat by running round after my two small children but was still was a bit of a yoyo dieter, where I would have 'good' weeks and 'bad' weeks.

My twins are 10 now which of course makes me over 50! Having children late made me even more interested in health and nutrition as I want to be around as long as possible. At 50 I am in slimmer and in better shape than I have ever been and I have banished the yoyo dieting for good I think. So, how have I done this? About two years ago I stumbled on some information on the paleo/primal diet whilst searching for some information about IBS which I was suffering from (I now realise that it was the whole grains that were causing me the problems). This diet, which is basically eating how were evolved to eat, meat, fish, eggs, veggies, nuts and berries and healthy fats has made a huge difference to how I look and feel. I'm convinced that the traditional weight loss diets eating high carb, low fat and counting calories (or even worse the no-food diets) cause food cravings and huger that our bodies just can't ignore for too long. Eating paleo/primal gives you a way to lose weight without the hunger and cravings that cause us to fall off the diet wagon and put all the weight back on.

My next post will talk about how I make the paleo/primal diet work for me and how you can still eat out and enjoy life which of course will help to sustain your motivation. Watch this space!