I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this whole Paleo thing. The concept behind Paleo in a nutshell, is eating only things that our early ancestors ate. Basically, if a caveman couldn’t hunt it or find it, you can’t eat it.
I very quickly came to the realization that the majority of Paleo recipes “out there” are not technically Paleo at all. Coconut sugar? Coconut milk? Coconut flour? Maple syrup? Blanched almond flour? Sweeteners made with plants like xylitol and stevia?
Paleo? I think not.
A truly Paleo diet of course would only consist of local wild animals, insects, berries, tree fruits, maybe some seeds, and root vegetables and I suppose maybe bird eggs when they could find them. Possibly honey. So modern Paleo is really nothing like a true Paleo diet.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about that fact. As a foodie, living on just the basics above would be very difficult and extremely boring and there’s no way I’m introducing insects into my diet. I think figuring out what irritates your body and finding a healthy balance is the key. Balance doesn’t mean I’m promoting eating things you’re sensitive to or allergic to of course, but if you’re just tweaking your diet to see how it goes, then I recommend a happy, non-obsessive, balance. If you don’t strive for balance, you’ll find yourself standing in front of the fridge and cupboards freaked out and overwhelmed because you feel like there’s nothing you can eat.
Balance is the key.
On top of my usual abstinence from gluten and dairy, grain has not touched my lips in 23 days and neither has refined sugar. Some may think that’s obsessive, however, I take this very seriously as Lyme Disease and its ugly side effects are nothing to mess around with.
I will give you a good example of what I mean by balance. When we are eating at home we eat all organic meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, any condiments we can find that are organic, and my husband drinks organic cow’s milk, and we drink filtered water. Not everything in our cupboard or fridge is organic, but that’s what we strive for whenever possible. When we go out to eat (a rarer and rarer occasion), I don’t even think about the organic aspect. I still have to keep allergies in mind but other than that we find that balance and enjoy ourselves. The other day we went to a movie. Typically if we go to a move my husband and I will share a large popcorn “buttered”, salted, and a soda. But, because I’m trying to get rid of refined sugar, I settled on a water bottle but still shared the popcorn that I’m sure is totally GMO and god only knows what they butter it with. And I don’t want to know. That in my mind, is balance. Mental balance. Because life is much TOO short not to have movie theater popcorn every now and then or enjoy a delicious steak at a wonderful restaurant even though the chances of it being organic are close to zero.
I have noticed a dramatic difference in my hands and ankles and overall body/joint pain and swelling since kicking grains and refined sugars out of my diet. My knuckles are almost back to normal, partly due in fact to the prescription anti inflammatory I’m sure, but even that hasn’t been able to quench the fire completely. Once I stopped the gluten free grains and refined sugar, I noticed a marked difference. I could tell my body was working with the anti inflammatory, rather than against it. I’ve never been one to eat a ton of sugar anyway, so I’m going to attribute the vast improvement in my body to the lack of gluten free grains and an increase in raw vegetables and other anti inflammatory items such as turmeric, cinnamon, raw honey, and ginger . Going gluten and dairy free isn’t always the heal all unfortunately. Another bonus: I’ve lost 9 pounds in the short time I’ve been off all grains. Obviously, I was inflamed and swollen and puffy, even more than I could see.
I think there’s a common human trait involved in changing your diet. Even if there are several things on your “Do Not Eat” list that you don’t eat often anyway, there is, after about a week or ten days, an intense desire to eat them. The stubborn gene that you inherited from one of your crazy relatives comes out in full swing. Luckily, I love to cook and bake and on a good week have the time to be prepared for such instances. I’m also fearful of what I will feel like if I add those things back into my diet. If you don’t like to cook or you are strapped for time, or your willpower is lacking, you’re going to have to get creative. Or somehow find the time to focus on your diet and your health. You’re worth it you know. So many of us, the majority probably, have forgotten how good we’re supposed to feel.
Don’t live like that.
The sugar thing is easy to get around if you’re willing to do a little research. I have been using coconut crystals, maple syrup, and honey when I make something sweet. I’m fine with that. Some people will argue about the honey and maple syrup. If you are being more strict, then look into xylitol and stevia. I haven’t tried either one just yet but will eventually try baking with both. If you’re really serious about completely eliminating all sugar from your diet, I would recommend “I Quit Sugar 108 Sugar Free Recipes” by Sarah Wilson. It’s a beautiful cookbook and she will walk you through the entire 8 week detox path and then supply you with wonderful recipes to try. I’ll admit her detox plan was a little overwhelming for me. It’s extreme. But some people love and need extreme. If that’s you, you’ll enjoy it.
I tried a recipe for pancakes last week I found on Pinterest with just coconut flour and they were awful. Gooey in the middle, heavy like a brick, and way too much coconut texture. They had to all be tossed in the garbage; an expensive experiment.
These Buckwheat & Coconut Flour pancakes are delicious and were the perfect meal to curb that “grain” craving. Fluffy and hearty with the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and not too much coconut going on. I’ve made buckwheat pancakes in the past so am familiar with the texture and how it works. This experiment turned out fantastic and even Tony who is a pancake and all things sugar expert, loved them.
They are gluten free, dairy free, grain free, and refined sugar free. They can also be made with any type of milk, making them nut free.
Buckwheat & Coconut Flour Pancakes
*Makes 12 medium to large pancakes
2 Organic Eggs, Separated
2 1/2 Cups of Organic Milk (my favorite is full fat coconut milk)
1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of Organic Buckwheat Flour (I also like grind buckwheat groats and make my own buckwheat flour. The groat flour makes for a bit of a fluffier pancake and less of a buckwheat flavor, but both versions are very good.)
1/2 Cup of Organic Coconut Flour
1/2 Cup of Arrowroot
1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder
1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Crystals
1/4 teaspoon of Iodized Sea Salt
Separate the eggs and beat egg whites to stiff peak. Set aside. Sift the buckwheat, coconut flour, tapioca starch, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium sized bowl. Add the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Carefully fold in egg whites.
Heat a griddle on medium and oil. I used bacon fat but you can use avocado oil or coconut oil also. Spoon batter onto hot griddle and cook for 4 minutes or until bubbly on top. Flip and cook for about 3 minutes.