Sunday, 27 January 2013

Shas's chicken curry with raita

Thanks to Shas for this authentic curry recipe passed down from her mother. This is a really delicious fresh and healthy curry which is so tasty. Eat with natural yogurt raita and salad for a low carbohydrate paleo friendly meal. Don't be put off if it looks complicated because it has quite a lot of ingredients, it is actually pretty quick and easy to make.

For the sauce you will need:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm piece ginger, chopped small
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 red chilli, chopped, seeds removed or 1/2 tsp flaked chillis
1 bayleaf
3 green cardamon pods
1 black cardamon pod
1/4  tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves
cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
10 curry leaves

To make the sauce
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil and add the onion and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and spices and fry for a further 3 minutes, stirring to coat everything with oil.
Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.
Add 10 curry leaves and 1/2 tsp of salt cook for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in two tablespoons natural yogurt.
Add the chicken (see below) to the sauce and mix together.
Note: Dry roast and grind the dried spices together in a pestle and mortar before adding to the onion and garlic if you prefer ground spices to whole.

For the chicken:

You will need:
4 chicken breasts
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion
3/4 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp turmeric

Melt the coconut oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes until soft.
Add the spices and stir fry for 2 minutes being careful not to burn the spices.
Add the chicken and stir fry for 10 minutes until cooked through.
Stir the chicken into the curry sauce.

For the raita

You will need:
4 tablespoons full fat natural yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin

Mix the cumin into the yogurt until it is well distributed.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

So what has the paleo diet done for me?

Whilst I was running through the benefits of the paleo diet with a prospective client and coming up with more and more positives to tell her I was reminded of the part in the Monty Python film Life of Brian where they ask 'So, what have the Romans ever done for us?'. Of course the reply comes 'well there was the aqueducts  then the sewers, then the roads, sanitation, irrigation, education, public baths, peace, etc etc. The reason I'm bringing this up is because it is how the Paleo diet feels to me, there are just so many important benefits that have been life changing for me (maybe not quite as important as the ones the Romans brought to humanity!)

Firstly my long standing IBS symptoms have gone after about 20 years suffering from stomach pains, bloating, gas and all the other unpleasant symptoms of this really debilitating condition. I used to have a bloated stomach every evening and would go thorough phases where the pain was so bad I would need a hot water bottle on it. I can honestly say that since cutting out grains and sugar about 90% of the time I haven't had any IBS attacks and my stomach is pretty flat (for someone who has given birth to twins!).

I can eat a lot of food and still stay lean! I love my food and hate being hungry. If ever I was 'on a diet' in the past I always felt hungry about 2-3 hours after meals because I was following the low fat calorie counting type of diet. I now eat low carb, moderate protein and high fat and I can stay a very good weight, I don't get too hungry between meals and I really enjoy all my food. 

My 'all or nothing' approach to dieting has been replaced by eating 80-90% paleo throughout the year and then eating other foods I enjoy such as crisps, paleo cake, dark chocolate, red wine, crackers and cheese the other 10% of the time. I used to eat very sensibly for a few months never deviating, but then I would eat pretty badly for another three months. I now believe that my body was rebelling and trying to regain lost weight to make up for deficiencies in nutrients. I find it easy to get right back on track now after my 'cheat's'.

My cellulite has disappeared! Although I have always been fairly slim I always had unsightly cellulite in my thighs. My thighs are now the best they have been for years and I feel so much happier showing them in public.

I have energy and enthusiasm for life most of the time and I don't get mood swings. Previously I did have times when I felt low but I can honestly say that I generally feel 'up' and I am sure that is to do with feeding my brain with good fats and eating in a way that balances my hormones.

I have learnt to listen to my body and most of the time give it what it needs. If I'm hungry I give it food, if I'm not hungry I wait until I am. Years of having an unhealthy relationship with food meant that I would always eat at mealtimes or when there was food around regardless of whether I really needed it or not.

So when anyone asks what a paleo style diet means to me you can understand why it's quite hard to shut me up! I started EatRealFoodUK so I can pass on all these positive benefits to as many people as possible. If you would like help and support in the transition to paleo style eating to help you to lose weight and gain better health contact me on

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Can you have your (paleo) cake and eat it?

A new client was asking me about a muffin recipe that I had given her Nut and raisin muffins (press ctrl + click to view recipe). She was a bit confused that the recipe contains raisins and honey which are on the list of foods to eat rarely or never as they are very high in sugar and carbohydrates. As the Internet is chock full of cakes and desserts tagged as paleo friendly I thought I would clear up this confusion and explain my position on the place these baked goods have in your healthy eating and weight loss journey.

When you first take on a new way of eating, especially if it supporting any weight loss goals you have, you are normally full of good intentions and often find it easy to do for a few weeks. However on traditional calorie controlled or low fat high carbohydrate diets the fact you are often hungry and your body is not getting the nourishment it needs will mean that you end up 'crashing' your diet and eating all the wrong foods again, often quickly gaining weight you have lost. There is also the psychological factors, not being able to go out to eat for example and for many people the agony of NOT HAVING CAKE! Tea and cake is a very British tradition and often can be a social event with friends and family. Therefore on my EatRealFood plan I advocate following the paleo style guidelines strictly 80% of the time and then enjoying other types of food (namely CAKE) 20% of the time.

So does this mean you can devour a whole chocolate fudge cake from the supermarket? I wouldn't advise it for many reasons. Shop bought cakes contain a wide range of processed fats, refined carbs such as sugar and sugar substitutes, additives, grains and all sorts of other questionable ingredients. They raise your insulin levels sky high and put your body into fat storage mode. They will probably make you feel quite ill now you have been eating paleo style for a while. 

Of course there may be times when eating a piece of shop bought cake is unavoidable, birthdays for example, and this is fine. Just have a moderate amount, enjoy it guilt free and then go back to the plan. Just remember shop bought cakes and other baked goodies are empty of nutrients where as the paleo cakes will still provide you with healthy fats and vitamins and minerals and will not sabotage your weight loss efforts as they shouldn't cause nasty sugar cravings. 

Search for paleo brownies, muffins, cookies, fruit cake whatever is your particular favourite.  Most recipes use coconut flour or almond flour which you can get online if you can't find it in your local supermarket or health food shop. These nut flours are much lower in carbohydrate than grain based flours. The recipes use healthy fats such as butter or coconut oil and natural sweeteners such as honey and dried fruit. The end products are usually very filling and nutrient dense. (I would always use paleo/primal recipe sites as low carb web sites often still use artificial sweeteners in recipes which should be avoided).

A word of warning. These goodies are still high in calories and although this diet doesn't count calories they do still matter in the overall scheme of things. If you are just replacing a  cake habit with a paleo cake habit and eating them every day it's unlikely you will see much weight loss. They are still a treat food, maybe saved for weekends or holidays. It is important that 80% of your diet is based around meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy fats Ctrl click to see this post if you want more information about the paleo style of eating).

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Beetroot Soup with Stilton

This recipe is one of the quickest easiest soup recipes I have ever made, it is done in about 10 minutes and the only prep involved really is chopping an onion. Not only does this soup taste really great but beetroot is a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C so you are on to a win win situation, healthy and tasty!

You will need:

250g pack cooked beetroot, roughly chopped or sliced
1 onion, diced
 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed (or pinch garlic granules)
1 tbsp healthy oil (butter, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil)
375ml sugar free vegetable stock
25g grated cheese (I used stilton which complemented the soup perfectly)


Cook the onion in the oil for about 10 minutes until soft.

Add the garlic to the pan and gently fry for another 2 minutes.

Add the beetroot and stock and bring to the boil. 

Turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese. Makes two servings.

If you don't eat dairy you can swirl a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk or cream into the soup instead of the cheese.

Curried Squash and Swede Stew

This is a really lovely dish which you can modify by adding more or less curry powder and also adding different root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots or different green veggies such as broccoli or cabbage. 

You will need:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
450g swede, peeled and diced
2-4 tsp curry powder to taste
600ml sugar free vegetable stock
450g squash, peeled and diced
Pack green beans, diced
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges or some cherry tomatoes

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan, add the seeds and cook for 1 minute.

Add the onion and garlic and chilli and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened.

Stir in the swede and cook for 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the squash and green beans and simmer briskly for a further 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season to taste. 

I had a bowl of this stew with a diced chicken breast cooked in coconut oil but you could serve with courgettes or cauliflower for a completely vegetarian meal. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

A day in the life of a paleo diet.....

When I say to people that I don't eat sugar, grains or processed foods they often say 'what on earth do you eat then'?. I thought it would be good to post pictures of what I have eaten today, all really tasty meals that are very nutritious and will enable me to maintain a healthy weight and give my body what it needs to be strong and healthy.

So, breakfast......

Scrambled Eggs, smoked salmon and watercress
I added a teaspoon of butter to the scrambled eggs both for taste and to keep me from getting hungry until lunchtime. Good fats such as butter, coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia nut oil and avocado oil can be added to all meals instead of high carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, bread and pasta. Your body will learn to burn the fat in your food and on your body rather than using carbohydrate for fuel. Fats take longer to burn and so will keep you full for longer and don't cause spikes in blood sugar levels which tend to make you hungry and can cause symptoms of hypoglycemia such as headaches and shaking.


Goats cheese and roasted vegetable salad
.I used a mixture of salad leaves, some cherry tomatoes and celery and then added roasted onions and peppers left over from a meal of fajitas last night (a good meal for all the family, I just substitute large salad leaves for the wheat tortillas to make it paleo friendly). Whenever I have a salad I always add a good serving of my home made salad dressing which I make up with 1 part olive oil, 1 part avocado oil,1 part macadamia nut oil and 1 part apple cider vinegar (raw if possible but the normal stuff you get in the supermarket will do). If you find the avocado and macadamia nut oil too expensive just use all olive oil, the best you can afford. 


Mackerel fillet, braised red cabbage, courgettes and broccoli
Oily fish makes a great choice for a filling meal and is packed full of nutrients. I braised the red cabbage with spices and steamed the green veg, then added a tablespoon full of coconut oil.

Snacks during the day were a handful of mixed nuts and a miniature bar of green and blacks 85% cocoa solids chocolate. I drank two cups of builders tea with a tiny splash of milk and two cups of green tea. Also had hot water with lemon when I got up and a couple of mugs of nettle tea and about 6 medium glasses of water.

I really enjoyed all my meals, felt satisfied but not stuffed and all these foods will support my efforts to lose the couple of pounds I put on over Xmas and get me back on track with clean eating. It's not completely perfect with the builders tea and chocolate but it's the little things like that that make it sustainable long term. Without those small but healthy(ish) treats the deprivation often gets the better of us and we then start to binge eat the things we miss. Consuming small amounts of these foods or drinks regularly is better than being super strict for a few weeks and then caving in and giving up completely. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Use this effective technique to stop those cravings...

You know how it is, you've been cutting back on unhealthy foods and alcohol for a couple of weeks or even months; clothes are feeling looser and the scale is going down. Then suddenly you get a strong craving to eat or drink something that is off plan even though you are not hungry. The following technique is from a book called 'Pause Button Therapy' by Dr Martin Shirran and I have tried it out a couple of times and it really works!

So before you go to the fridge/cupboard to reach for chocolate/crisps/wine or whatever is your particular foodie weakness STOP and imagine you are watching yourself on a film and press the PAUSE button. Then press FAST FORWARD and imagine how you will feel both physically and mentally after you have eaten/drunk whatever it is you are craving; frustrated, disappointed, further away from your weight loss goals, nauseous, headachey. Then press REWIND and imagine yourself walking away from the temptation and how you will feel then, calm, pleased with yourself, a little bit nearer to your goals, a boost for your self esteem, healthy. Now press PLAY again and get on with it, I think 9 times out of 10 you will choose the second scenario and can walk away.

Of course there are times when eating non supportive foods has its place, for example Xmas, birthdays, meals out and special occasions, this is part of the 80/20 rule that I advocate to ensure this lifestyle is sustainable long term. These are planned indulgences based around special events or weekends. However if you struggle on a day by day basis to stick to your weight loss plan then this technique is well worth trying.

The EatRealFood diet plan based on primal style eating will help cut the physiological cravings that happen when you eat a diet high in grains, sugars, starches and processed foods. If you can then tackle the psychological aspects of food cravings by having some effective techniques up your sleeve then you can't fail!

If you'd like more information about the EatRealFood diet plan just drop me a line on

Let me know by leaving me a comment if you find the technique above works for you (or  if it doesn't).

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Sweet potato and chilli soup

his soup has to be one of the nicest I have ever tasted. I adapted it from a recipe from the BBC Good Food website and it was really lovely. It is very thick, almost like a puree so if you like your soup a bit thinner then you can add some more water. If you are trying to avoid dairy then add some coconut cream/milk/oil instead of the cheese and double cream. It is important to add good fats to soups to make them more sustaining as without bread you can often feel hungry again quite quickly. Sweet potatoes are quite high in carbohydrates so this soup would be great on a day when you are going to be active.

You will need:

1 tablespoon good oil (butter, avocado or macadamia nut oil)
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 red chilli, seeds removed and chopped (or pinch chilli flakes to taste)
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
800 - 1000ml sugar free vegetable stock or water
Pinch paprika, sprinkle of cheese and double cream to taste (I added one tablespoon of cream as I don't like my soups too creamy)


In a large pan heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, coriander and chilli until soft.

Add the sweet potatoes and stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Mash or blend until smooth. Add more water if it is too thick for your liking.

Before serving add double cream, cheese and paprika to each bowl.

I'll eat healthily and lose weight when........

So you are eating well, avoiding alcohol and sugar and losing weight and feeling less bloated and pretty pleased with yourself. Then something stressful happens in your life and wham you are back to drinking every evening and eating all the wrong foods. The weight starts to creep back on but you think and say to people 'I can't diet at the moment, my life is too stressful'. What you are fact saying is that your health and weight loss goals are not that important because you are allowing other things to get in the way. You are also saying that you are using food as an emotional crutch to help you through the bad times.

So what about saying to yourself 'My health and weight loss goals are important enough to me not to allow myself to be sidetracked by life. If I continue with my supportive habits and continue to feel better and lose weight at least one bit of my life will be going well. I have control about how much I let the outside influences affect my eating habits, it's not something that just happens by itself'. Of course life can be difficult and stressful at times but the idea that chocolate and crisps will make one iota of difference to those stresses is wrong. In fact it will just add to them because you will be angry and frustrated that you have allowed your weight loss goals to slip and the sugar and alcohol will cause mood swings which will put you on even more of an emotional rollercoaster.

So, next time this happens to you take a deep breath and say to yourself 'this is a bad time for me at the moment but my health and self esteem are very important to me. Rewarding myself with food may help for about 2 seconds while it is in my mouth but after that it will only add to my problems. I am going to reward myself with other things I enjoy, a nice walk, hot bath, massage, favourite TV programme. I am going to continue to eat supportively and reach my goals DESPITE everything else that is going on in my life'.