Paleo Diet Cooking Starts Next Week

Our new series dedicated to deciphering the Paleo Diet kicks off next week. Here Chef Katie explains what eating like a caveman actually means, shares her views on a grain-free diet, and provides a preview of some of the skills she’ll be teaching.

(Can’t commit to the series? Try the classes as single sessions: The Seasonal Paleo Diet (June 11), Mastering Paleo Proteins (June 18), Paleo Diet Meal Planning (June 25)

The goal of the Paleo Diet is to eliminate processed foods, grains, and diary based on the idea that humans are not genetically designed to consume these foods. The term “Paleo” is short for the anthropologic “Paleolithic.” As it relates to the diet, Paleo represents the lifestyle of behaviorally modern humans who appeared in Africa between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago (essentially eating habits combined with a certain level of physical activity).

The modern Paleo Diet is not necessarily about weight loss, but about the promotion of an overall healthy lifestyle. It abides by the following dietary guidelines:

• Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables (high in soluble fiber, antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, omega-3’s, monounsaturated fats, and low-glycemic carbohydrates).

• Fill-up on protein-rich calories and limited refined carbohydrates (sugars, processed foods, and grains).

• Eliminate or consume limited unhealthy fats from animals and animal by-products (namely dairy).

Those that follow those principles should see a change in body mass as well as overall improvement in health (whether that means increased overall lean muscle mass or fat loss is dependent on the person’s level of physical activity).

The question of whether or not it is “healthy” is a hotly debated topic. In my opinion, paleo principles encourage an active lifestyle, promote a largely plant-based diet – two things ANY nutritionist or dietician would encourage (especially compared to the  “Western Diet” of highly-processed foods that skews heavy towards grains and fatty meats and a sedentary lifestyle. Do I completely agree with cutting out ALL grains? No. But that is only because I know that, for example, eating bacon (which actually has more fat than protein per serving) as a source of protein isn’t healthier than getting that protein from Quinoa. However, I understand the science behind it, and I also realize that a diet like this can be easier for some to follow than other diets, and a lean meat and veggie-only diet is certainly the lesser of two evils when compared to a diet of fast food and soda.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Paleo Diet is its focus on reducing inflammation. In the Western world we blame a lot of our health problems on fat, fried foods, and unhealthy animal meats and by-products. While these foods can lead to increased LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol levels and weight gain, inflammation (which leads to heart disease and has links to diabetes and some cancers) is really caused by too many omega-6 fatty acids (found in grains, some vegetables, and grain-fed animal fats). So while avoiding fatty cuts of grain-fed meat is a part of the healthy-lifestyle puzzle, so is balancing our intake of omega-6s with healthy omega-3s, which the design of this diet makes easy.

If all of this seems at little complicated, it’s because it is. That’s where our cooking course comes in handy. Not only will we discuss the principles of the diet, we’ll get hands-on to create dishes that help you understand how to create simple paleo-friendly dishes in your own kitchen without being a slave to recipes or cutting out everything enjoyable from your daily meals. In most paleo cookbooks and blogs you see recipes that simply eliminate the use of any grains, dairy, etc., but that can make following the diet as a lifestyle somewhat limited (sometimes you just want a bowl of spaghetti!). In this class we’ll discuss ways to use fruits, vegetables, nuts, and purees to REPLACE some of our favorite flavors and textures in dishes (think cauliflower “rice” pilaf with caramelized onions and herbs) so that you can learn how to substitute paleo-friendly ingredients in dishes they may otherwise have to sacrifice, which will make sticking to the diet much easier.

Have Paleo Diet questions for Chef Katie? Post them in the comments or email us!

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One Response to “Paleo Diet Cooking Starts Next Week”

  1. June 7, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    This would surely be a big help for me as I’m planning to have my food diet as well as having a regular exercise. Hope to read more from the author. Thank you for sharing this very informative post.

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