My wife and I have recently begun following a modified paleolithic diet, excluding a lot of gluten/wheat, incorporating minimal dairy and raw sugars, and eating mostly organic fruits/veggies and organic grass-fed or free-range meats. In doing so, we have noticed a tremendous improvement in a number of health-related aspects (such as daily energy, quality of sleep, mood, recovery after exercise, etc). Our reasons for choosing this way of eating came after reading literature on the types of toxins that are included in processed foods and the nutritional value (or lack thereof) that is found in commerically grown and raised produce and meats. We agreed that our bodies react based on the fuel we give it. So we might as well put our bodies in the best position to perform well.
However, following such a diet comes with its share of challenges. First off, it is by and large more costly and time consuming to eat this way. For example, a dozen commercially raised eggs costs around $1.99, where as organic free-range eggs may cost around $3.50. But, the saying “you pay for what you get” rings true. The omega 3 (essential fatty acids with anti-inflammatory capabilities) to omega 6 (unsaturated fatty acids that in excess can increase the risk of a number of diseases or conditions such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and cancer) ratio is one example of this. The ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 has been suggested to be between 1:1 and 1:4. According to the book, The Omega Diet by Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD and Jo Robinson, this is right in the range that organic free-range eggs fall (about 1:1 to 1:3), where as commercially rasied eggs have a ratio as high a 1:20. The same can be said for organic grass-fed beef, whose ratio is around 1:5, where as commercially raised beef is around 1:20. Also, the number and types of products that contain some form of wheat or gluten is staggering. Gluten may be present in commercially made soups, tomato sauces, salad dressings, meatballs, prepared hamburger patties, yogurts, cheeses, etc. Why are we choosing gluten-free? Wheat and gluten are not necessarily bad for you, especially if you don’t have a gluten intolerance like those affected by Celiac Disease. We, however, choose to opt-for gluten free foods or fruits and veggies as our sources of carbohydrates because of the effect wheat/gluten may have on your immune system. In a 2007 study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, workers exposed to wheat flour had an elevated levels of IgG and IgA (serum antibodies that help protect against invading pathogens) indicating that a systemic immune response was being triggered. In a 2005 study in the Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Journal, wheat gluten was given to a group of healthy individuals over a 6 day period and their immune system response was measured. Following the 6 days, natural killer T-cell levels were significantly increased in each of the individuals in the test group. So although we aren’t intolerant of gluten, we choose to opt for non-gluten containing foods to optimize the performance of our immune systems.
It is difficult though trying to maintain this type of diet while keeping some variety in the types of meals we eat when so many foods and recipes (esepcially when going to a restaurant) contain ingredients that we try to avoid. So I thought I’d share a recipe that we tried this past week that was both delicious and followed a lot of the self-imposed dietary restrictions we now abide by. Hope you try it out and enjoy it as much as we do. Additionally, if you have any recipes that follow a more gluten-free / paleolithic way of eating, please share those as well as we are always looking to expand our cooking repertoire.
Sweet Potato Waffles:
Prep Time: 10 min (not including boiling the sweet potato)
Cook Time: 5 min
- 1 cup boiled then cooled mashed sweet potato (we skin ours and slice it first to help it cook faster)
- 1 1/4 lowfat (preferrably organic) buttermilk
- 1 egg (we use organic free-range as stated above)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups gluten-free pancake mix (we use Pamela’s brand)
- 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- we sprinkle unsweetened coconut and diced strawberries on to
- Preheat Waffle Iron
- In a medium bowl, combine sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, and oil
- In a separate bowl, whisk pancake mix, sugar, cinnamon, then stir in sweet potato mixture into dry ingredients. Batter will be fairly thick.
- Coat waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray or spoon 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into waffle iron and cook until crisp