Salads, Salads, Salads!

When people ask me what i eat in a typical day, while staring at me and my 6ft3 frame.. they find it hard to believe i consume a hearty vitamin packed salad almost every day.

Salmon Salad with Walnuts

There is this idea that if you do alot of exercise and you’re maybe even big like me, you need alot of carbs in your diet. Not true. When i was competitive in cycling many years ago i did consume alot carbs in my diet for the extreme amount of mileage i was doing. But today i am 48 and not a serious athlete anymore. I do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or CWT (Circuit Weight Training) workouts that last no more than 30-40 minutes and only every other day. I then do fast walks in-between those workout days for 1 hour at most and at a very high rate most of the time. So while i am not a serious athlete anymore, i am serious about staying in shape and keeping healthy; i need to do this without stressing myself out over every meal or snack.

Salads like the three i display in this post have more than enough calories to supply my frame – 400-700 depending on size and the oils/nuts i use. I want to enjoy what i eat and feel satisfied mentally and physically so lean meat in any form is important for me and it should be for you! Preferably grain fed and wild fish, not farmed. Don’t get hung up on this aspect of meat because our world doesn’t make obtaining these very easy.

BBQ Chicken with watermelon and walnuts

There is no rule with salads in my mind, but you can make weird ones if you’re not careful. I generally use one of three meat types in my salads; BBQ chicken, smoked salmon or roast lamb. I always have meat in the fridge that i have cooked prior and use for a few days for snacks and salads. When i BBQ on the weber, i tend to do another load of meat for the fridge and maximize the use of coals that are still hot. In my salads i use rocket or spinach and supplement this with nuts – either walnuts, macadamia’s or almonds. Raw nuts – no salted or roasted versions! Lastly, i might add a fruit of sorts like watermelon, rock-melon, mango or even blueberries. If i am short on fruit that i tend to make it a savory salad and go with gherkins and olives or something similar.

Salmon Salad with Olives, Gherkin and Walnuts

Lastly i drizzle generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil over these and some balsamic vinegar. Simple! I find if i make a good salad and it has fruit in it, i often don’t need alot of dressing. My wife prefers just olive oil on hers.

NOTE: Stay away from commercial dressings, they are either loaded with canola oil, salts and preservatives AND the low fat versions are loaded with sugars in quantities higher than that of soda drinks like Coke or Fanta! In the order of 12-18g per 100g. I think soda drinks are normally about 9-11g per 100g – i don’t know the ounce equivalent but you get the idea.

Tomato of course is a good option in any salad, which is what my wife often uses in her salads. However i am a little intolerant of nightshade foods so i stay clear of them – bear this in mind. Raw tomatoes, capsicum, aubergine, pimentos and potatoes all belong to this family. They are “Alkaloids” and cause itching for me around the kidneys and shins, especially when i eat capsicum and pimentos more than any of the others. I avoid potatoes regardless because i personally follow a “Primal” style diet (for lack of better wording) which focuses more on meats with vegetables and fruit aswell as some complex carbs (starches) on occasion, like sweet potatoes or yams – not often though.

The key is to have fresh rocket, spinach or iceberg salads available in the fridge draws every few days and keep up extra amounts of meat on the cooking side when prepping dinners. The rest is easy and fast!

Good eating!

Dean

Posted in Cooking, Dieting, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Paleo, Primal, Salads, Weightloss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Want to lose more weight? Cut the baking!

Baking is not exactly natural, even if it contains Paleo food types. I am not against baking; everyone likes eating it. But if you’re serious about losing weight, eating natural whole foods as often as you can is the key to sustainable weight loss; here is why:

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People often say, “oh i don’t have time to cook or prepare meals often, so i make baked things for the week so we can eat those on the run.. ” Sure, thats fine occasionally, especially if they are Paleo type baked goods. But please, every day or so!? I run several companies and squeeze exercise in my lifestyle aswell as all sorts of other daily things i have to do – just like many other people on this planet. However, i still prep my meals and i don’t bake very often. If i do, it’s what i call “mix & set” not baking. Why?

Baking of any kind combines foods we don’t find naturally occurring

A banana has no fat but alot of natural sugars. An avocado has reasonable fat but no sugars. Meats have high proteins and some fats but no sugars. You can see where i am going with this. Try thinking of any natural food that contains reasonable portions of both fat and sugar. Other than full milk, there isn’t! Milk is also something that was intended for an animals infants, not the adults let alone us humans.

Fat and sugar together is often a problem

The combination of fat and sugar in a single food is dangerous for us if consumed too often. Our bodies were intended to eat one or the other in reasonable quantities and often with protein too. In the past we might have indulged very occasionally in alot of fruit when in season or even honey. When we did, our Pancreas was there to help with the spike in our blood sugar by producing insulin. After a day or so we would then go back to our normal diets. Refined sugars like we know today were not available early in our history. Even a few hundred years ago, they were hard to obtain. Our ancestors never indulged with sugars on week by week basis or even year on year. But we do today – and we also combine these sugars with fats in almost every processed food i can think of. Yes Paleo baked goods are much better for you because you’re using un-refined ingredients; but you’re processing these whole foods and this isn’t curing the weight gain issue. Most weight gain issues are because of insulin spikes caused by higher than normal carbohydrate intakes and often combined with fats. So if you’re weight is still up or has stalled at some point and you’re eating these better baked goods, this might be why.

Baked goods are always very high in calories

Even if you follow a Paleo diet in some form, you can still become over weight from eating baked foods. You could also retain existing insulin issues if you use alot of natural concentrated sugars too often. Over weight people are often already symptomatic in some form and this makes the idea of sustainable weight loss much harder to achieve. High levels of sugars from honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and palm sugar combined with high fat nut flours when baked are still processed foods; albeit alot better for you. Don’t get me wrong, i am not saying don’t enjoy a few of these, but the best rule of thumb here is to use the 80/20 rule and make sure your getting most of your meals from whole foods. These whole foods tend to carry more water and fibre within the entire meal unlike baked goods and whole foods absorb much more slowly with less calories.

Mix and set your food rather than bake

If you’re going to bake with the Paleo diet guidelines, try to use whole fruits and not agaves, maple syrups, coconut sugar, palm sugar and or honey very often; or use sparingly. Whole fruits carry fibre and this is believed to help reduce the absorption of fruit sugars into the body too quickly.

Keep to mixing things rather than complete blending of ingredients and baking for long periods. The more you breakdown the ingredients the faster this absorbs into our blood, which you want to avoid. Baking or heating food heavily caramelizes most foods – this makes it absorb faster into our blood also. The idea of “mixing and setting” over blending and baking is where i feel the distinction between whole foods and processed foods can be made. Grains were never an issue for our diet till someone decided to grind them into a powder we could bake with; this absorbs fast and is seen as sugar to the body. Not surprising then that todays mass produced flours roughly resemble cocaine… they almost act the same way too and our brains love it.

Being careful not to go full circle

The recent uptake of baking using Paleo or Primal diet guidelines is merely fulfilling our desire for addictive food. It is allowing us to somewhat return to what we have been trying to ideally leave behind – processing of food. I am already seeing such things as processed paleo nut mix for making cookies etc, sold in jars. This is hardly natural or normal despite what it is made from – this attitude towards faster food is about making everything we do convenient for us because we are simply too lazy to make a little effort each day in supporting our health with proper meals. Baked goods, even healthier ones, should be treats we seldom have.

80/20 people, stay with the program.

Good eating!

Dean

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Dieting, Eating, Food, Health, Lifestyle, Paleo, Primal, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to eat healthy anytime

You can’t always be 100% Paleo or Primal… or whatever your diet requires; least of all on holiday or dining out. It is very difficult for most people to find grass fed meats, even when wanting to cook at home. (adapted from content in post – Primal eating in Bali)

Chicken thighs – marinated in Tamari and weber smoked

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So i don’t panic if it’s not Paleo and you shouldn’t either. The health aspects of simply eating meat (albeit probably grain fed) with vegetables is a darn sight better option than the weight i might gain (with the associated health problems) from eating a lot of heavy processed carbs like bread, pasta and white rice. However, there are fish and eggs too, so there are always choices. You don’t want to be obsessive about this, but simply conscious. You can always improve your diet when and as you learn of better choices and suppliers of these foods. On holiday, don’t worry about it at all, just focus on eating low glycemic carbs and eating good proteins when you can find it. You have to be careful with seafood but fillet fish is 99% of the time safe for me and should be for most people.

My diet does have a heavy Paleo basis but no one is watching me. I am not on it and off it, i simply follow a guide of eating. Thats all Paleo and Primal is, a guide. I occasionally introduce legumes or gluten free grains in a small way into my diet – namely green beans and spelt toast on the occasional mornings. I avoid dairy more than legumes or grains because i don’t do well on it. But i have a dollop of milk in my tea sometimes and the occasional parmesan cheese in a salad. No ice-cream ever, it blocks my sinuses like a Bali drain. I also drink the occasional soy latte when i don’t feel like a long black (americano) – and I am not concerned about the estrogen aspects of soy as it is one glass in a week. I also have a teaspoon of brown sugar in coffee at times and i regularly have a beer, but more often wine. All these things i do mildly compared to my overall diet of meat, veggies, nuts and fruit. I use an 80/20 rule – 80% Paleo and 20% outside this.

Pork Scotch Fillet – weber smoked with mild salt

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The key to all this eating we all seem to have trouble with, is to let yourself still enjoy not so good things (20%), but MOST of the time (80%), be good to yourself by making good food choices during the main meal times. Snacking is hard when away – i tend to eat nuts or fibrous fruit at home. During holidays i do nibble on peanuts or corn chips when times are tough, but i can always find fruit! Just don’t eat a whole packet of whatever you start on! Drink plenty of water with things you eat, i find this helps feel full longer.

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Coconut and Mango soft serve – with crushed almonds and cacao bits

Making good choices at anytime is hard work or else we wouldn’t have a world weight epidemic! Don’t think your special or find it harder than others, thats your story. We all have to work hard at this. The answers to good eating lie within us all. Just because there are man made processed foods tempting us, it doesn’t mean we have to eat them. I know that when i do manage to avoid these bad foods and eat well, i feel magic. That memory of feeling good keeps me from touching the rubbish food more often. The more you do this, the better you get at it. The more you eat well, the worse the bad stuff makes you feel when you eat it. You have to try harder with this and for periods long enough to know how this feels. Have faith that you can make the difference to yourself for yourself.

When you eat isn’t so important; but what you eat is.

Good eating!

Dean

Posted in Dieting, Eating, Education, Food, Health, Lifestyle, Paleo, Primal, weight loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment