A few months ago I found myself in a real unhealthy rut in terms of food and body confidence so I knew I needed to change my eating habits. With more time on my hands than ever as we were doing our farm work in regional Australia, I thought what better time as my social life will be non existent.
After a bit of research I was bombarded with The Keto diet but with the new ‘it’ diet that Kim K is supposedly doing, I’m not sure I can get on board with the Ketogenic lifestyle. The thought of cutting out all sugar including most fruit would be an impossible eating habit for me to take on – I have the mindset that if anything natural such as fruit are off limits then the ‘diet’ simply isn’t for me.
With all of that in mind, I decided on paleo where I am free to eat pretty much anything that’s not processed and cuts out grains, sugar and dairy. However I’m not going to be super strict on myself, if I accidentally have a bit of milk in my cuppa or a sneaky soy latte I’m not going to beat myself up. Life is all about balance and I don’t believe that depriving yourself all the time is the answer or a genuine ‘lifestyle change’. I’m trying super hard not to call this a ‘diet’ – again a new way of thinking I’m attempting to embrace. This should be more of a lifestyle change to have a long term effect on my chubbiness, double chins and general attitude towards eating.
I’m intrigued to cut out dairy to see if this helps my skin as I suffer from acne even at the ripe age of 26 – how annoying combining anti wrinkle AND acne into my skincare regime! It will be interesting to see if this makes any difference (update – it did not but a couple of beach sessions shrivelled some of the bad boys away but that’s no shock revelation).
I’m over a few months into the plan which I hope to continue over Aussie summer and I’ve found myself loving some of the recipes and wanting to share them. Some are even my staple weekly recipes with a few minor adjustments making it simple to slot into my usual cooking habits.
On a side note, the first 2 weeks I had no idea that peanuts and cashews were considered ‘Legumes’ therefore are not Paleo however I decided not to cut them out as I have been depending HEAVILY on peanut butter.
Here are my favourite recipes:
Sesame Cauliflower Rice
I have been making this atleast 2-3 times a week for lunch with a few variations but my favourite has to be when I drizzled a little seasame oil at the end or better still toasted sesame seeds on top. I tend to use around 3 large cauliflower pieces from the head and that seems to be more than enough for one portion so a whole cauliflower should make 3-4 portions depending on the size.
3 pieces of Cauliflower chopped finely into ‘rice’ sized pieces
1 Chopped onion or spring onion
1 Garlic clove
1 cup of chopped Veggies of choice such as peas, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, broccolini or whatever you have lying in the fridge.
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Coconut oil
A splash of water
1 tbsp Sesame oil and/or sesame seeds (optional)
A sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp peanut butter (optional)
- Using a wok, heat the coconut oil and add the onions and garlic until tender
- Add the cauliflower rice and remaining vegetables and stir fry. Add a splash of water to the pan to help steam cook the veggies
- Once the veggies are tender but al dente, make a well in the centre of the wok and crack the egg in. Whisk the egg around the head until cook then mix into the cauliflower rice.
- Add the soy sauce, chilli flakes and season to taste then take off the heat.
- Pile into a bowl and dress with the sesame oil, sesame seeds and a blob of peanut butter and enjoy!
Chilli Stuffed Peppers
Chilli has become one of my weekly faves as I know it is for many but I began substituting the beef mince for turkey or chicken mince to make a slightly leaner chilli. Be sure to read the label though as some turkey mince packs can have just as much fat as minced beef! I substitute the kidney beans for sweetcorn to make this paleo and I like to add a bit of dark chocolate after seeing this suggestion a few years ago for a touch of richness. Then to finish stuff it into a pepper to bake which I find adds another layer of sweetness as the pepper cooks. This recipe serves 4.
500g Turkey or chicken mince
4 Red Peppers
1 Garlic clove
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 can of Sweetcorn
1 can Tinned tomatoes
4 squares of 70% dark chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil
- Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan and fry off the onions and garlic until slightly caramelised.
- Add all spice to the pan and cook out the spices for a minute or two
- Add the mince and cook off for a few minutes until completely cooked
- Pour in the tinned tomatoes and sweet corn and allow to simmer for atleast 25 minus on a low heat – the longer the better to let the flavours come together.
- Meanwhile, chop and de-seed the peppers and lightly oil and season. Stand up on a baking tray and whack them in the oven for 10 minutes to pre-cook
- Usually at this point I would be tasting to see if any sugar or seasoning needs adding for sweetness (and I used to sneak a bit of ketchup in to take the sourness off the tomatoes) but instead throw in a few squares of dark chocolate
- Take the peppers out the oven and carefully spoon into the peppers and bake for another 15-20 minutes
- I love serving mine topped with fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and sprinkled with coriander
Salmon Fish Cakes
This recipe I was fairly sceptical about at first as it called for tinned salmon, of course you could use fresh salmon instead but as I was on a paupers budget this was a great recipe that didn’t call for expensive ingredients. I also tried spicing this with lemongrass, ginger and coriander instead of paprika for a Thai twist which was amazing too!
1 400g tin of Pink Salmon
1 Garlic clove
2 tbsp Coconut flour
1 cup mashed Sweet Potato
1 tsp Sweet Paprika
2 tsp coconut oil
- Dice the onion and garlic
- In a large bowl combine the salmon and all ingredients until encorporated (but not too much as a few chunky flakes of salmon remaining adds a nice texture)
- Take a small handful and mold into a round patty shape
- In a large frying pan, heat the coconut oil and fry the cakes until golden on the outside for around 5 minutes
- I like to serve them with salad and Paleo mayonnaise (simply an egg yolk, lemon juice, mustard, seasoning and coconut oil mixed together)
Chocolate Orange ‘Nakd’ Balls
Back at home, I loved having the odd Nakd bar when I fancied something sweet that wasn’t too unhealthy and the chocolate orange bar was my fave. So now being on paleo I couldn’t stop thinking about the NEED for these bars. I have struggled to find a Nakd bar equivalent in Australian supermarkets so I sought out to make my own as I’ve heard they are super easy and that it was! I started making a batch every week of around 12 balls which I tried (and mostly failed) to limit myself to 2 a day as a sweet snack. I also tried mixing up the flavours and nuts which worked a treat so it is a very adaptable recipe to suit your nakd bar needs!
125g Cashews (or I also tried pecans which worked fab too)
125g majool dates
4 tsp raw Cocoa Powder
1-2 tsp Orange Zest
2 tsp peanut butter (optional)
Pinch of sea salt
- Using a blender or food processor, firstly blitz the nuts until they resemble breadcrumb size pieces
- Throw in the dates, cocoa powder and orange zest and blend away until combined. This may take a few minutes of scraping the edges to ensure all the bits are blitzed enough.
- I like to taste to ensure it’s chocolatey and orangey enough and add a little bit more if needed
- Roll into bite sized balls and store in an airtight container for up to a week
Carb Free bread (which went straight in the bin!)
And a funny blooper of a recipe which I can’t bring myself to try again!
Originally seen on a tasty video, the texture looked so similar to that of actual bread that I was sucked and rapidly went out to purchase the eye wateringly expensive ingredients.
I however made the silly mistake of swapping almond flour for coconut flour as I couldn’t find an almond version in our local supermarkets (bearing in mind I was in rural Australia). Anyway it turns out that coconut flour is 4 times more absorbent than almond so may of been the reason for my massive fail. Even with this faux par, it had the worst consistency and texture so unfortunately went straight in the bin – which is a big statement for me as I hate throwing away food.
Thoughts on Paleo?
After doing this for a few months, not religiously every day but I’ve certainly adopted quite a few habits which I think will have its health benefits. One noticeable change for me is dairy which I hardly ever eat anymore, at one stage I was snacking on cheese every day in an attempt to avoid carbs which I’m sure wasn’t doing me any favours so I’m happy that naturally I’ve seemed to of weaned myself off. Although cheese is life and I can be caught dabbling in a cheese board every now and again – but just not too regularly anymore. I enjoy almond milk or coconut milk in my coffee now instead of skimmed. FYI coconut coffee is the way forward!
Anyway down to business, how much weight did I lose and how did I feel?
I’ve only lost around 2kg in 8 weeks which I was disappointed by, however I tried to go off how I was feeling and how my clothes fit too. I noticed a considerable difference in that respect.
Stupidly I didn’t take measurements but I went down 2 belt holes on my waist and felt a lot more comfortable in my jeans which I was bursting out the seams. I would regularly suffer from stomach aches and bloating which nearly all together stopped when I was eating Paleo.
As I touched on earlier, this didn’t have much of an effect on my skin and acne. This is something I’ve always had issues with so I’m unsure if diet will ever help.
Overall, I will definitely be taking paleo eating habits forward and naturally I have found myself doing this easily during the week. I will however be allowing myself to let go a bit every now and then – life is all about balance. And some cheese. And some chocolate after all.