Exploring Paleo eating with help of book written by regular folks living the life

Updated 4/26/2017 6:30 AM
  • Spicy gumbo packs a lot of vegetables with a lot of big flavors.

    Spicy gumbo packs a lot of vegetables with a lot of big flavors. Courtesy of William Morrow

  • Courtesy of William Morrow

The Paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet popped up on my radar screen almost 10 years ago. I didn't think much about it then; believing it was, for the most part, an historical-based revision of Dr. Atkins' high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate food plan and a fad.

Turns out that wasn't quite right.

The Paleo diet's hung in there for nearly a decade and it doesn't seem to be the passing fad I believed it would be. Here's an example.

Meet the Mayfield's, Julie and Charles, authors of the "Weeknight Paleo: 100+ Easy and Delicious Family-Friendly Meals" cookbook, and their two children. They seem to be an all-American family, but with a twist, they follow the "Paleo" food plan and have since 2008. How the Mayfield's defined that food plan and lifestyle enlightened me about what is a Paleo food plan. In fact, I discovered that, for much of it, I eat nearly the same way as the Mayfield's.

The Mayfield's Paleo basic food plan includes " ... meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fats." Their meats come from grass-fed, pasture-raised or wild-caught origins. That's me, too.

I believe it's wise to stay far away from all CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) finished beef, pork and chicken. I don't ever eat farmed seafood, like farmed shrimp or salmon. I'll save my long list of reasons for another column.

In their own words, the Mayfield's: " ... strive to make our plates or bowls half full of vegetables include fats at all our meals, and try to eat as seasonally and locally as possible.

That's me, too. My first Community Supported Agriculture box arrived today with spinach, strawberries and field greens. Yummm. The only reason I wouldn't bump into the Mayfield's at our farmers market is they live in Georgia.

The Mayfield's go with butter from grass-fed cows. They'll use some whipping cream from the same source. They eat eggs from chickens that have never, e-v-e-r seen an antibiotic and live in the outdoors, as chickens are supposed to. In other words, nutritious foods.

The Mayfield's quote Michael Ruhlman who wrote in The Washington Post, "Our food is not healthy, we will be healthy if we eat nutritious foods that make us feel healthy."

On a typical day, the Mayfield's might eat: " … broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, sauerkraut, a kale salad, sweet potato, some grilled chicken, scrambled eggs, bacon and some pork tenderloin." As well as avocado, olive oil, and grass-fed butter.

Not exactly meat-centric. No.

The "we-stay-away-from-these foods" are fairly obvious. Grains are out (empty calories and the nutrients and fiber can come from more nutritionally dense foods); legumes (such as peas, beans, and lentils) are out, too (same reason as grains). Except for butter and cream, dairy's off the table, too. All processed foods, sugars and alcohol aren't on the Mayfield's mealtime agenda either.

The Mayfield's cookbook does not include any nutritional information. They've learned to eat until they are satisfied and stop. No need to count calories. They lead active lives and own and operate a CrossFit business.

Their book contains more than 100 recipes and nearly as many pictures; making it easy to prepare Paleo-friendly weeknight meals. There are slow-cooker recipes, one-dish meals and some special fixings like Avocado Soup with Scallops and One-Pan Roast Salmon with Asparagus. There's even a recipe for Flourless Chocolate Mini Cakes.

This book is by regular folks, like you and me, sharing their family recipes, many of which are kid-friendly.

I did the nutritional analysis for this sample recipe. The pork sausage is from where nearly all the fat (88-percent) comes. Too much? Draining off the fat after cooking the sausage will drop the calories and the fat significantly. Give it a try.

Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@theleanwizard.com.

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