Making Olive Tapenade

I’ve been hearing about the Palaeolithic Diet for a while now. When you do CrossFit, it’s only a matter of time until a Paleo Challenge comes up so I’d been reading and thinking quite a bit about it for a while.

I’ve never believed in diets. I don’t believe they work. I’ve always thought eating well and exercise were the only way to go. While I still believe this, what eating well means to me has changed significantly this year.

Cooking my first whole chicken

This summer, a friend recommended the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. I was looking for a new cookbook with some good recipes and Diane’s book seemed great so I ordered it online. N and I had been making an effort to eat better and I’d already been introducing some paleo recipes to our meal plan. (Yes, we’re big nerds and do a weekly meal plan. It helps with budgeting.) Diane’s book is great. The recipes are beautiful and she does a great job of explaining a lot of the science behind paleo. Between her book and Mark’s Daily Apple, a lot of what I was reading was starting to make sense. I still wasn’t sold on the idea though. I’ll be the first to tell you, I love bread and cheese. Part of why I loved living in France so much was the food. I love everything about good food. The more I read though, the more I wanted to try 30 days of paleo. I just wasn’t sure if I could convince Nathan to give up his cereal in the morning. By the same token, he thought I’d never give up cheese.

One of our easy go-to recipes:
Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Two weeks into November, my friend told me her and her boyfriend were doing a 30 day paleo challenge. This was just the motivation I needed to propose it to N. He agreed and we ate through what we could of our grains and legumes before Nov 15. It wasn’t the best time to be doing a paleo challenge (we had Christmas and Birthday Parties and were training for a half marathon) but I figured there would always be a reason why now wasn’t the time. So we decided to cut grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils from our diet as much as possible. We knew that most weekends would probably involve a “cheat” meal of some sort, but during the week we stuck to paleo as much as possible.

One of N’s favourite foods is pizza, so I kick started our month with a paleo pizza. It turned out pretty well for a pizza without grains or cheese and it was definitely a fun experiment. We made a cauliflower crust and then topped it with some delicious tomato sauce, meat, mushrooms and asparagus. N still says it’s not really a pizza, but he enjoyed it anyway.

Paleo Pizza

We finished our paleo challenge Dec 15, just in time for my Christmas Party. I really enjoyed our month of paleo and it has definitely changed the way I think about the food I put in my mouth. We’ve since added back in a few things, namely dairy, but are mostly still excluding everything else. I found after the month was over, I didn’t want to go back to eating grains.

Feeling awesome! 

I would never say I’m gluten intolerant or that I’ll never eat gluten (we still love to go out for dinner!), but I’m definitely more aware of the effect both have on my body. A lot of people are horrified that we eat bacon every morning and cook with bacon fat and butter, but I honestly feel great eating this way. One of the biggest changes I noticed was the sluggish feeling I used to get after my lunchtime sandwich was gone.

I didn’t go into this thinking I was going to lose a ton of weight. I don’t really weigh myself that often anymore anyways, but I did take note of my weight at the beginning and then again at the end. I lost about 10 pounds, which was a wonderful side effect. I’m mostly just happy to feel like I look better. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments which also makes me feel amazing.

I really have nothing but great things to say about the experience. I know it’s not for everyone and I know a lot of paleo enthusiasts can get kind of preachy, so my goal is to stay far away from that. At the end of the day, I think everyone should do what makes them feel good.

So I’ll leave you with this: Try new recipes. Eat bacon. Experiment with food. 

Eat, drink, be merry. 

Here’s a few favourites for our month-long challenge. Check out Diane’s book for the actual recipes. 

Chinese Five Spice Lettuce Wraps

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese 

First delicious attempt at lamb chops with olive tapenade

Butternut Squash Sage Soup
Shrimp and Pesto Zucchini Fettuccine 

Lemon Artichoke Chicken

Typical Breakfast: Rutabaga Egg Nests with Avocado and Bacon