Food Blurb: Coconut

Now, if you look anywhere for paleo anything, you’ll start to see a trend. Everything has coconut. Well….not everything. But pretty close.

Every time I need oil for something, I reach for a jar of coconut oil. If I need a yogurt/milk replacement in shakes or creamy sauces, coconut milk/cream does the trick. It’s relatively inexpensive and not all of it is overwhelmingly coconut-tasting.

Coconuts are awesome.

But why? I mean…..they do look weird.

But! Much like my rant about avocados and their healthy fat content, coconuts offer similar benefits when it comes to fat.

From PaleoLeap.com

  • Coconut oil is highly saturated and stays stable under high heat
  • Coconut oil is very low in polyunsaturated fat
  • The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil have antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help those dealing with gut flora imbalances.
  • Coconut oil doesn’t need bile to be assimilated and is therefore easier to digest, especially for those with digestive or gallbladder issues
  • Coconut products offer antioxidant properties
  • The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut can offer metabolic advantages, as discussed in the following section.

“What’s of interest to us is not necessarily specific foods and their availability during the Paleolithic Era, since the diet would have been so varied depending on the climate, geography and season. The metabolic effect and macronutrient ratio of our food is much more important to try to reproduce our ancestor’s health through today’s choices. After all, the ruminants and birds available in the Paleolithic were much different, but it doesn’t make beef or chicken poorer choices by default.

In the same way, coconut oil is a fat that’s mostly saturated and that is very low in polyunsaturated fat, which is something desirable because of the stability and functions of saturated fat in the body.”

From LivingPaleo.com

“There are still many people who have negative associations with anything that contains ‘saturated fat’. I believe this mainly is conceived through the belief that saturated fat from animals raises blood cholesterol levels and causes heart disease. However, there is no evidence showing that too much animal fat in the diet promotes heart disease. In-fact there is over 20 studies that have shown people who have had a heart attack haven’t consumed more fat than people who have not had a heart attack.

Animal fat should be the main source of energy for our bodies, without modern technology processing food and making it available at our convenient local grocery, we would be picking fruit and vegetables when they where in season, and hunting for animal meat.

I’ve heard on many occasions that nutritionists have advised patients that coconut oil is bad for their health because it’s close to 90% saturated fat. These nutritionists are poorly educated and have failed to differentiate the many types of saturated fats from each other.

Saturated fat can be broken into three different categories, short chain, medium chain and long chain.

Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid, this fat is digested and assimilated easily in the body and is transferred directly to the liver where it is immediately converted into energy, also meaning it isn’t directly stored as body fat. In addition, coconut oil stimulated the thyroid gland which regulates the metabolism and can help speed it up.

One of the worst dietary myths is that “Eating fat can make you fat”. In-fact, you actually need healthy fats to help you lose body fat and keep your body healthy…”

I can vouch for how eating healthy fat allows you to drop excess weight. I ate a diet high in these saturated fats for a month and lost 10 pounds. To most, that sounds counterintuitive. But that’s because of what we’ve all been told; fat is bad, whole grains are good, sugar is somewhere in between. Of course, I was also eating animal proteins, vegetables, and healthy carbs (like sweet potatoes). But it’s these natural fats, coconut in particular, that allow our bodies to utilize them in the most efficient way they can.

They offer awesome energy boosts and keep you full much longer than traditionally accepted oils/fats. I credit my lack of hunger pains during my whole30 to the healthy saturated fats I was eating along with my proteins. If I wanted a snack, coconut chips were a great option. In fact……….I see a recipe coming right now!!!!! 😀

Sweet n’ Salty Coconut Chips 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 cups coconut chips (ribbon coconut)

-Mix milk, sugar, salt, and coconut in a bowl. Soak for 1-2 hours

-Preheat oven to 200 degrees, line a baking pan with parchment paper, spread coconut into a single layer and bake for 2 hours

-Remove from oven, heat oven to 400 degrees and put coconut back in. Cook 10-20 minutes until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

-Let cool

 

 

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Food Blurb: Avocados

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I figured because of the occasion, now is a great time to talk about one of my favorite fruits: the avocado.

Yes, it technically is a fruit.

I put avocados in everything I possibly can; alongside my eggs, on my tacos, in my morning shakes, in brownies, or just plain by themselves. They are a great substitute for sour cream (if you’re non-dairy) on top of spicy foods to cool it off. They add creaminess to chocolate preparations. Think I’m crazy? Well…I am. But not about this! (scroll down for a recipe!) They are great sources of healthy fats and vitamins, giving us energy and keeping us full.

From PaleoLeap.com:

Native to Central and South America, avocados weren’t technically around in the Paleolithic, but they come relatively close: the earliest evidence of avocado consumption comes from around 10,000 BC in Mexico. Admittedly, they don’t look like much on the outside. They have that weird lizard-skin texture, and they sometimes look more like rocks than food. But that unassuming outer shell is hiding a delicious treat inside…..

     From a macronutrient perspective, avocados are mainly (about 77%) fat, and most of that is very healthy fat. This makes them unusual among fruits, since most other fruits have very little fat. But as Paleo dieters know, the right kind of fat is nothing to be afraid of! In fact, the high fat content of avocados is actually a benefit because it means they’re very low in sugar. The healthy fats found in avocados are a much better source of fuel and energy than the fructose found in most other fruits…..

A key thing we need to remember about fat and our bodies: saturated fats are actually GOOD for us.

Our bodies understand how to utilize saturated fats, because they are found naturally in many things we eat.

From PaleoLeap.com:

Is it any wonder that the fat that composes our own bone marrow and most of our brain, saturated fat, should also be the fat that we consume? Saturated fat has been demonized mainly because most sources are also high in cholesterol. Cholesterol is one of the most important constituents of life. Your body produces it and can regulate its levels whether it’s synthesizing its own cholesterol or cholesterol from dietary sources. Every cell needs it, the brain contains large amounts and cholesterol is the precursor to many of the most important hormones. In fact, a high saturated fat intake has been shown to reduce what we call the bad cholesterol, small particle LDL, and raise what’s called the good cholesterol, HDL. LDL and HDL are not cholesterol; they are transport lipoproteins, but the function of cholesterol and the way it works in the body, as well as what causes arterial plaque is misunderstood…..

  • Most sources of natural saturated fat such as butter, lard and tallow contain high amounts of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Those vitamins need the presence of fat to be absorbed and are primordial for the absorption and proper utilization of other vitamins and minerals.
  • The air spaces in the lungs are coated with lung surfactant composed entirely of saturated fat. When the consumption of saturated fat is too low, the composition of this lung surfactant is compromised and the lung’s air spaces can collapse. It’s possible that the proliferation of asthma in children and adults is due to a breakdown of this fatty layer.
  • Some sources of medium-chain fatty acids such as coconut oil also have potent antimicrobial properties.
  • Saturated fat helps the liver flush out any fat accumulation within it.

Avocados are high in saturated fats, making them fantastic sources of energy and aiding in the absorption of all of those vitamins, conveniently also found in an avocado.

  • Vitamin K1: 36% of the recommended daily value.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): 30%
  • Vitamin C: 20%
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): 20%
  • Potassium: 20%
  • Vitamin B6: 20%
  • Vitamin E: 13%
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 13%
  • Copper: 12%
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 11%
  • Magnesium: 10%
  • Manganese: 10%

Another great thing about the avocado, is that it’s relatively high in fiber (37%). Who says you need a diet high in grains to get your gut moving? Not I!

I could get deeper into the science of why and how fat is super healthy for you. Believe me….I could. *science nerd alert* There are multiple studies done on vegetarian/low fat diets versus a high fat diet and how they impact various organ systems and overall health and wellness. I’ll link some pages here if you’re interested in finding out more.

The Diet Wars Continue: Low Carb vs Low Fat Study

Long Term Scientific Verification of The Paleo Diet

Avocados are a staple fruit for us Paleo-eans. They offer innumerable health benefits and are super duper tasty. 😀

For your cooking pleasure; a chocolate & avocado recipe. I told you, it’s a thing.

Taken from PaleoLeap.com

Paleo Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6

    Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp flavored extract (mint, coffee, almond, hazelnut, etc.) if you’re so inclined

-Blend everything up in a blender, or food processor until smooth. Refrigerate first, or enjoy immediately!

Diary Entry 5/4/2015

Hello there!

 

This is my first blogging attempt ever-I’m totally new to this whole thing. So forgive me if I’m a bit slow going. I wanted to give an overview of what this will be about, what to expect, and why I do what I do. So!

 

#1: I eat paleo.

 

Some have heard about it, some haven’t. Most HAVE heard of gluten free and low carb. Paleo is different than both in certain ways. Gluten-free is mainly just omitting gluten (wheat products) from your diet. Low carb is eliminating some carbs or sometimes substituting lower carb options. Paleo is the complete omission of grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats, rye, barley, quinoa, millet), legumes (peanuts, cashews, beans, lentils, soy, chickpeas), vegetable oils, processed sugar, and dairy. Now….if you have never heard of this before, I understand it’s a bit scary sounding. My first reaction was “Then what CAN I eat?!” I assure you, I eat a big variety of food, without including anything from that list.

 

I eat food. It’s as simple as that. My diet consists of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, eggs, nuts, and seeds. It’s a diet high in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. Everything mainstream society has been feeding us (pun!) about what’s healthy and good for our bodies, I want you to forget all of it. Today, the American diet is mainly grains, processed sugars, artificially constructed vegetable oils (what vegetable naturally has oil in it? Think about it.), and soy. There are tons of articles and studies supporting how the American diet is killing us, but that’s for another day. I’m not asking everyone to agree with me. All I know is how great I feel since making this choice about my health and diet, and I wanted to share my experiences with others.

 

#2: I’m not an expert.

 

I don’t claim to be all knowing, and I’m everything but perfect. You can expect 100% honesty here. My plan for this blog is to share recipes, bits of information, funny stories, my failures as well as my victories, and to hopefully learn through all of it. This diet/lifestyle is not for everyone and that’s totally fine. While it IS different and seemingly opposing what we’ve all been told to do, it’s probably the best decision I’ve made for myself. I’ve never felt this good in the history of my 21 years, and I think that’s saying something.

 

I don’t want to advertise paleo as a “diet”. It really is more of a lifestyle change. You need to understand the “why” of it all. This is the Cave Girl Diaries, because paleo is all about getting back to what our ancestors ate. Being cave men and women. There were no processed anything , only those things they could find roaming, grazing, flying, swimming, or growing in a tree. These foods are what our bodies function best on and therefore, make us most healthy.

 

#3: I love food.

 

I’ve been in the kitchen since the day I could hold a spoon. Coming from an Italian background, food is everything. It’s what keeps us all together and brings us back, no matter how many miles between us. It also means a LOT of bread and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE bread. Giving those things up was hard for me. I still make my Grandma’s sauce, I let it simmer all day, memories flood back. It’s awesome. Now, instead of making a pot of spaghetti, I make my noodles from zucchini. It’s not a restrictive way of living, I’m not constantly wanting desserts, or sandwiches, or all those starchy foods I once lived on. It’s about slightly tweaking those favorites, in a way that isn’t destroying your body.

Now. I don’t claim to eat paleo 100% of the time. The occasional sprinkling of cheese or corn chip happen. Especially when eating out. But for the majority of my meals, I’m a cave girl.

This is a change that takes dedication, because so many of our daily premade and prepackaged foods are filled with all those things that poison our bodies. Label checking and making a lot of things from scratch are my reality. It’s most difficult in the beginning. Over time, this becomes second nature and you look forward to doing it, because you’re so pleased with the results and the quality of life you now have achieved. I’m serious. Making mayo is fun now.

#4: Be happy!

I’m a fairly positive person about most things. Sometimes though, the one being hardest on me is myself. It can be easy to get discouraged and down about how truly awful all of our staple foods are for us. It’s just as easy to cheat here and there and pretend it didn’t happen. But I’m here to tell you, living this way isn’t a burden. It’s not a chore. It’s also not tasteless and boring. There’s always going to be times when other people around you are eating something you can’t, that’s just life. But I have the satisfaction of knowing how great I feel because I’m choosing something different.

This lifestyle is also not super expensive like most may think. It is a lot of produce and meats, but if you’re a smart shopper this won’t hurt your wallet. Buying meat on sale (and freezing the extra for later use) and buying produce in-season (which is when it offers the most nutrients anyway) are ways to cut down on cost.

Of course, organic everything is almost always better. But also almost always more expensive. So I pick the things that matter most to me. Vegetables I most often eat raw, eggs, and grass fed beef (when I can get it) are what I look for. The point is to keep it simple. Obviously, if my vegetables are sprayed with chemicals to make them grow faster/ripen quicker, I don’t want those same chemicals in my body. If my cow has been raised on an unnatural diet of grains, this would logically make for an unhealthy cow. Which I also don’t want in my body. Cage-free chickens who are allowed to roam their farm are healthier for me than chickens cooped (pun!) up in a small cage and fed growth hormones. A lot of this diet is common sense, really.

#5: I work out! 😉

No matter who tells you what about weight loss and fitness, the simple fact is this: everyone needs to move. Diet alone won’t make you a healthy person. Find something you like, and run (pun!) with it! I’m a biking fiend. I can bike anywhere and everywhere. Now that the weather is nice again, I can finally get back to it. Yay!

I’ve never been a gym person and in fact, I still am not a fan. But I also enjoy working out at night. So it’s down to my basement for a run on the elliptical I go. I love excuses as much as the next person, but when it comes to my workouts I have to really push myself as hard as I can and just do it. Even if it’s just walking, moving is always better than not moving.

AND! I also have good news! We’ve all heard that cardio is what we need to lose weight. While this is true, it’s only half the story. Weight training is a big part of fitness that everyone ignores or is afraid to do. You don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill anymore! 😀 The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. By incorporating lifting into your routine, you can burn more fat. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I learned of this I almost jumped for joy. If you can’t tell…..I’m not a cardio junkie. Some are. I don’t get it. But to each his/her own. I plan on making an exercise series in addition to my recipes/food-blurbs. So be on the lookout.

I’m not here to lecture anyone. All of us know we need to move more and eat healthier. I’m guilty of it too. Hopefully you find something that inspires you to make a positive change. Becoming a cave girl did that for me.