Thinking About Going Primal/Paleo for the New Year: What Does That Entail?

Going primal/paleo is about adopting a new lifestyle that emphasizes building new habits to clean up our diet, exercise more optimally, have better sleep hygiene, and learn how to manage the stress in our lives. It focuses on adopting an ancestral health approach. 

Embracing a primal/paleo lifestyle means we apply ourselves to mimic the way our ancestors lived, as reasonably as possible, within our modern world boundaries. 

We want to eat whole foods rather than processed foods, get enough exercise and low-intensity movement throughout the day, get adequate sleep, and minimize stress triggers on top of learning how to better handle overall stress. 

It is important to carve an optimal lifestyle for ourselves that works along with our ancestral roots, not against them. 

So What About the Food?

When it comes to the primal/paleo-approved foods that are okay to eat for most people, here’s an overview of the main staples you will want to have on hand (as highlighted in The New Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson):

  • Baking ingredients: coconut, almond, or other nut flours, tapioca starch, and arrowroot powder.
  • Beverages: water, unsweetened teas, full-fat coconut milk, or unsweetened almond milk (great for smoothies).
  • Coconut products: butter, flakes, flour, milk, and oil offer medium-chain fats; good substitutes for dairy, refined vegetable/seed oils, and wheat flour.
  • Dairy: raw, fermented, high-fat, and organic products are best (cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, kefir, whole milk, yogurt) –  to eat in moderation.
  • Dark Chocolate: my favorite snack/treat! It has to have a cacao content of at least 75 percent, ideally 85 percent or higher.
  • Eggs: local, pasture-raised, or certified organic for high omega-3 content. If you buy eggs from pasture-raised chickens, the yolk is going to have a deep-yellow/slight orange color. This color is a sign of a nutrient-rich egg.
  • Fats and oils: I like to use avocado and extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and animal fats (bacon grease, chicken fat, lard, tallow) are best for cooking.
  • Fish: wild-caught from remote, pollution-free waters. Small, oily, cold-water fish are preferred: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring (SMASH). Certain farmed fish are okay (domestic Coho salmon, trout, and some shellfish – not shrimp). Check the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (seafoodwatch.org) for up-to-date recommendations.
  • Fruit: locally grown (or wild), organic, in-season preferred. Berries are best as they are low-glycemic. Go strictly organic with soft, edible skin fruits. Moderate intake of higher glycemic fruits.
  • Meat and Fowl: local, pasture-raised, or USDA-certified organic. If you must eat conventional meat, choose the leanest possible cuts and avoid consuming the fat as it is where some of the meat toxins are stored, not in the liver. 
  • Nutritious carbs: go for abundant vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, yams and other starchy tubers, quinoa, and wild rice.
  • Prebiotics: cooked and cooled white rice and white potatoes, green bananas, raw potato starch.
  • Probiotics: fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, and yogurt, and even dark chocolate!
  • Snacks: berries, avocados, canned sardines, dark chocolate, hard-boiled eggs, jerky, nuts, olives, seeds, and other high-fat and/or high-protein, low-carb primal food.
  • Vegetables: locally grown, organic, in-season is best. Opt for strictly organic for large surface area (leafy greens) and soft edible skins. Eat the rainbow!

To get a nice sum-up of the above list of primal/paleo-approved foods, you can check out my post about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid.

Happy New Year!

Reference

Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 480–1.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Emergency Foods

No matter how hard we may try to plan our days, we can find ourselves pressed for time on a regular basis. To avoid snacking on unwanted foods when there is just no time for a nice sit-down meal, doing a little prep beforehand can be a lifesaver. Emergency foods are easy to put together. Having those ready when you need them will make you feel good about still taking care of your health while having a zillion other things to do. As mentioned in a previous post, 12 “on-the-Go” Healthy Snack Options, a short list of easy to prepare healthy snack options (or “emergency foods”), paired with occasional good quality protein bars, is an awesome way to stay primal/paleo even on the most hectic days!

Easy Healthy Snack Options

  • Artichoke hearts (with water, preferably in glass jars)
  • Avocados 
  • Beef jerky (homemade or minimally processed)
  • Dark chocolate: 85 percent cacao or above being better
  • Canned fish: sardines, anchovies, and oysters are my favorites
  • Cut-up raw vegetables with nut butters or guacamole
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Kale chips
  • Leftovers 
  • Low-glycemic fruits like berries
  • Nuts and nut butters (not to overdo on those though). As a side note, peanuts are a legume, not a nut.
  • Olives
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed or organic cheese made with raw milk (directly from a farm ideally)
  • Slices of cold meat or poultry (with primal/paleo-approved condiments if needed)
  • Smoothie
  • Soup

In Summary

Unless you are ready to go a little while without food, having any of the above emergency foods on hand can be a blessing in some situations! To this, several primal/keto-approved bars can be pretty handy too. I particularly enjoy the Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars, Epic Bars, and the Design for Health KTO BARS. Perfect Keto offers some amazing bars too. Having one or two protein bars in your purse or bag at all times is a sure way to satisfy any arising hunger and to stay away from unhealthy snack options.  

Until next time!

You can also find me on Instagram.

Nuts and seeds: an awesome whole food

In a previous post, 12 “On-the-go” Healthy Snack Options, I had mentioned nuts and nut butters as one of those easy snack options to have on hand. Nuts and seeds are a great way to curb any hunger throughout the day. They can make great salad toppings, and their flour can be used instead of the traditional refined flours or breadcrumbs, just like in An Italian Meatball Recipe, Paleo-Style.

Fun Fact: Peanuts are not nuts, but legumes.

Nuts and seeds: why they are good for you

Nuts and seeds provide:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Enzymes 
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Nut butters

Nut butters pair well with cut-up raw vegetables, dark chocolate squares, or say, a slice of bread made with almond flour. The best nut butters are raw and cold-processed, with no added ingredients besides salt. I usually go to Thrive Market to buy nut butters.

Sidenote: Buying raw nuts and seeds is best. Next would be dry roasted. Make sure there are no vegetable/seed oils or added sugar.

Storage

It is recommended to keep nut butters in the fridge. The same goes for nuts and seeds and their flours: put them in the fridge or even the freezer for long-term storage. Nuts and seeds can be kept for approximately six months, and up to a year if they are still in their shell. If you detect any “rancid, oily smell or discoloration,” do not eat them. As nuts and seeds have a hard protective shell, buying organic is not a must with these.


In summary

When eating primal or paleo, nuts and seeds are great nutrient-dense options. They are delicious on their own and when paired with other healthy foods. My personal favorites are pistachios and walnuts. Just make sure not to overconsume them. We want to watch our consumption of healthy omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (like in raw nuts and seeds), as we want to strive to have an omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio under 4:1, as mentioned in my post about Why We Must Consume Omega-3 Fats. To buy a variety of nuts, Nuts.com is a great site to check out.

So head to your favorite online store and enjoy one of the best snacks ever!

References

Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 220-23.

—. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, p. 116.

You can also find me on Instagram.


“On-the-go” healthy snack options can be a lifesaver

During the busy Holiday season, having on-hand healthy snack options can be a big help when we have a weekend-to-do list that is longer than usual. To avoid snacking on unwanted foods, doing a little prep at home beforehand can be a lifesaver. “On-the-go” healthy snack options are easy to put together. And to have those ready when you need them will make you feel good about still taking care of your health while having a zillion other things to do.

12 snack options to have on hand

  • Artichoke hearts (with water, preferably in glass jars)
  • Avocados 
  • Beef jerky (homemade or minimally processed)
  • Dark chocolate: 85 percent cacao or above being better
  • Canned fish: sardines, anchovies, and oysters are my favorites
  • Cut-up raw vegetables with nut butters or guacamole
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-glycemic fruits like berries
  • Nuts and nut butters (not to overdo on those though). As a sidenote, peanuts are a legume, not a nut.
  • Olives
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed or organic cheese made with raw milk (directly from a farm ideally)
  • Slices of cold meat or poultry (with primal/paleo-approved condiments if needed)

The protein bars I enjoy having on hand

When pressed for time, primal/keto-approved bars can be pretty handy too. I particularly enjoy the Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars, Epic Bars (I mentioned the EPIC brand in a previous post regarding pork rings as a snack), and the Design for Health KTO BARS. Having one or two protein bars in your purse or bag at all times is a sure way to satisfy any arising hunger and to stay away from unhealthy snack options.  

In summary

This short list of easy to prepare healthy snack options, paired with occasional good quality protein bars, is an awesome way to stay primal even on the most hectic days!

References

Perlmutter, David, and Kristin Loberg. Grain Brain : The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. New York, Ny, Little, Brown And Co, 2013, p. 247.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 105, 118.

You can also find me on Instagram.