Yep, last month I quietly celebrated the three-year anniversary of switching my diet and regaining my health. It’s been a crazy ride, and I thought it was time to update you on some of my experiences over the years, and share some quick fundamentals that I’ve learned along the way.
My path to a Paleo-style way of eating wasn’t perfectly straightforward. After years of health issues, in late 2010 I came upon an article describing a recently-published book called The Paleo Solution, written by a guy who obviously knows a thing or two about prehistory since his last name is Wolf. The book promised to demonstrate positive results for a number of health issues, including autoimmune diseases. Feeling like I was at a dead end with my own issues with autoimmunity, I bought the book at the very first opportunity, devoured it, and switched my diet within days.
While I’m very grateful to Robb Wolf and his Paleo Solution, it only gave me a glimpse of the journey I would need to take in order to restore my health. Much of the eating advice in the book was based on low-carb principles, which is understandable since the book is geared towards those who are looking to lose weight. But after losing an initial 30 pounds (likely due to discontinuing steroid therapy at that same time), I struggled with maintaining my weight, and had consistently low energy. It wasn’t until I reintroduced white rice and potatoes, foods promoted by The Perfect Health Diet, that I really started to feel like I had figured out an ideal way of eating for me (and one that I’ve maintained since). Dairy was also something I had to figure out on my own, as I found that I better tolerated certain types of dairy (mainly heavy cream, butter, and fermented products), and that my tolerance improved as my health improved. Dairy just didn’t warrant a blanket “avoid” stamp since individual tolerance was a better determining factor.
So over the years, I have had a hard time answering when people asked me where to start reading if they wanted to learn about the Paleo diet. The Paleo Solution is fairly inflexible, and was quickly becoming outdated as new voices entered the scene and brought new ideas with them. The Perfect Health Diet is a superior work, and provides an excellent template for sustained eating, but its lifelong approach to diet can be intimidating to those who aren’t ready for such a long commitment right out of the gate.
And in steps Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser.
Chicken Marbella is a dish first introduced in The Silver Palate Cookbook in 1982. Its unique combination of prunes, capers, and green olives quickly captured the hearts of home chefs and remains a family favorite in many households throughout the United States today. So when a friend requested that I make an adaptation of the recipe, I was happy to give it a shot and see what I could do.
And truth be told, I didn’t make many changes from the original recipe, because it’s already delicious and uses whole ingredients. However, I only used dark meat (instead of a quartered whole bird) to make sure all of the pieces cooked evenly. I also made some minor ingredient changes, like adding half an onion and using a butter and honey glaze instead of a brown sugar coating typically used in this recipe. Altogether, it all adds up to a slightly magical experience: a gourmet-tasting dish that’s dead simple to make!
Attukal Paya (sometimes spelled as Aattukaal Paya or just Paya) is a hearty soup made with lamb, sheep, or goat feet served in South India. What fascinates me about this dish is that it’s often served for breakfast – initially this sounded strange to me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; why not start your day out with some nutritious bone broth soup?
I also love the idea of throwing together a bunch of ingredients at night and waking up to breakfast already made!
To start off the New Year, I’ll be posting only Whole30-compliant recipes this month. What is the Whole30 Program? It’s very similar to what I eat already, but with a few more restrictions: no dairy (except ghee), no white potatoes, no rice, no alcohol, no sugars or sweeteners of any kind. It’s a great way to jump headfirst into an ancestral diet (although easing into a Paleo diet is just fine, too) and see some dramatic changes in your health.
For my first January recipe I wanted to share one of my go-to comfort foods: sausage and sauerkraut. It can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes and always hits the spot! Sauerkraut is a superfood thanks to its healthy bacteria; Genghis Kahn took it with him as he conquered Eurasia, and Germans brought it with them on ships as they traveled to America, in order to fight off disease. Admittedly, many of its healthy bacteria are destroyed in the cooking process of this dish, but don’t let it deter you from chowing down on this tasty recipe! When shopping for sauerkraut, be sure to buy some that only has water, salt and cabbage as its ingredients. You can always make it yourself, too; it’s one of the easiest pickling endeavors you could undertake.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Heather M., who won the giveaway!
Today I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled recipe to host another giveaway. I feel like Father Christmas – two giveaways in one month! Don’t worry though, I will still be posting a recipe this week (on Thursday). And it’s a doozy.
The new edition of Perfect Health Diet comes out today, and I’m proud to say that I’m teaming up with Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet to host a giveaway: a signed copy of their new book! The Perfect Health Diet is the template I use to guide my own dietary habits, and it’s quite a coincidence that this book is coming out on the same week as my two-year anniversary of switching my own diet.
The Perfect Health Diet is a simple and thoughtful approach to eating, which could probably be summed up as 3/4 vegetables and safe starches, and 1/4 meats, with healthy fats and acids to taste. The diet avoids the same foods as a Paleo diet (cereal grains, legumes, added sugar, grain-derived oils) with the exception of white rice, which is considered a safe starch.
Here’s how to enter the giveaway (first one is required, second is optional):
1. Sign up for the Perfect Health Diet RSS feed and leave a comment on this post letting me know you did it. If you don’t use RSS feeds, you can “like” the PHD FB page or follow Paul on Twitter instead.
2. Sign up for my newsletter (on the right sidebar of this page) and leave a comment on this post letting me know you did it.
If you do both options, I’ll give you two entries into the giveaway! You can tell me which options you did in one comment to save time. The giveaway ends midnight Saturday, December 15th (EST), and I will select a winner using a random number generator on Sunday. Good luck!
Giveaway not restricted to US residents – international entrants are welcome!
Giveaway graphic by Alex Boake Illustration.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Pão de Queijo is a traditional cheese bun popular in South America, most especially in Brazil. The dish has been around since the 17th century, and was made with just tapioca starch and water before the widespread domestication of cattle in Brazil in the 1800s. Today, it’s a popular breakfast food and can be found in most bakeries in Brazil.
Cheese buns are some of our favorite non-bread breads to make. They’re dead simple – mostly tapioca starch and hard cheese – and are a great complement to many meals (not just breakfast). We first discovered them in our pre-Paleo days at a Fogo de Chao Brazilian steakhouse. Later we started making them using pre-packaged Chebe brand dry mixes, until we found out that the Jaminets over at Perfect Health Diet had posted a recipe of their own. My recipe is very close to theirs, the only main difference being that I use a combination of cream and water instead of milk (there’s nothing wrong with making it with milk, but I have an easier time digesting cream than milk). I’ve also adjusted the portion sizes so that our recipe only makes 15-20 cheese balls – otherwise, that’s all we would be eating at every meal!
One of my readers recently turned me onto a dish called “Mimi’s Sticky Chicken“, and I was immediately intrigued by its foolproof technique and the mid-1990s feel of Mimi’s website. So I gave it a try, and I liked the recipe enough to share.
This recipe is unique in that it only needs one dish (I used a cast iron skillet), and it uses a relatively low cooking temperature of 250 degrees. Sure, it takes four to five hours to cook the bird, but it’s worth the wait.
A couple months ago I wrote a guest post talking about easy ways to incorporate healthy eating into your life, and I decided to revise it a bit and put it up here on the site for posterity’s sake.
It is no secret that I follow a mostly Paleo-minded way of eating and cooking (more specifically, a model based on the Perfect Health Diet). And while the Paleo diet is a lot of fun and a great template to eat from, it’s a pretty drastic change from your standard, everyday Western fare. Switching to a Paleo way of eating is a major adjustment, and one that many people aren’t willing to jump into headfirst. And I get that. So I wrote up a few steps that anyone can take that aren’t drastic, or terribly inconvenient, but are big steps towards eating better. Think of this as the first steps in easing into an ancestral diet at your own pace.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Cabbage rolls are found all over Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. They are staple dishes in Croatia, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Sweden; in Russia, they’re called голубцы (golubtsy) and make regular dinnertime appearances in most homes.
There is some controversy over the origin of the dish. One common theory is based on its name, which could be linked to the word Russian word for pigeons (голуби). Russian cuisine and culture was heavily influenced by the French in the 17th and 18th centuries, and these stuffed cabbage rolls could be an attempt to recreate roasted pigeons, a popular French dish at the time.