This is a guest post from my sweet friend Marla Sarris, author of the Paleo cookbook “Pigskin Paleo“.
This is quite a big week!
Now, the start of the NFL season may not mean much to you, but for me, it meant the launch of my first, and long awaited cookbook, Pigskin Paleo!
I’ll share a bit about the challenges we face when trying to eat healthy, why Paleo is my lifestyle of choice, what exactly this “caveman diet” is, for the uninitiated, and how you yourself may benefit from giving it a try. Finally I’ll top it all off with some quick and easy Paleo breakfast ideas for you and your family.
So lets get to it!
The Challenge of Staying Healthy
Eating healthy when gathering with friends can, at times, be challenging. And whether you’re watching the next big game at home or at a local watering hole, the football season is no exception to this rule.
Gameday fare doesn’t always consist of the best foods and as a result you may end up in a cycle of constantly serving what’s cheap and easy instead of what’s best for your friends and family. Believe me, I’ve been there.
There is, however, a bright side. With a little bit of planning you can ensure that everyone’s overjoyed with with your appetizers, entrees and desserts, whether they realize that they’re eating healthy or not.
The key to this, in my opinion, lies in one simple word. Paleo.
What is Paleo?
Paleo is a very satiating style of eating, that’s also good for your body. Quite simply Paleo can be defined as:
- Eat Plants, Animals, Nuts and Seeds
- Move Frequently and Lift Heavy Things
Those are two simple steps, but let’s just break them down a bit.
First off, notice the order of the first rule. Plants should always come first in any Paleo diet. One common misconception is that Paleo consists of eating bacon and red meat all the time and veggies are an after thought. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some bacon, but plants are at the core of Paleo.
Eating plants, animals, nuts and seeds is another way of saying to eat only whole, real foods. Narrowing our intake in this way results in the elimination of grains and processed foods, which has the added benefit of meaning that each and every Paleo recipe is also gluten-free. If you eat lots of fresh vegetables, a good quantity of properly sourced meat and fish plus a few nuts and seeds here and there, then you, my friend, are Paleo.
Move frequently and lift heavy things is where things really become fun. As my friend Vic likes to say, treadmills are for gerbils.
In my definition, living a Paleo lifestyle also means living in a way that includes more natural movements for our bodies. All this means is that you’ll want to do what works for you and makes you feel best. As long as that somehow consists of moving (pretty simple when you’re not sitting) and lifting heavy things (like your kids). Personally, I prefer a warrior workout, but if you’re doing those two things then you’re right on track.
Now you may be wondering where these “rules” came from. The Paleo diet is based on the research of Loren Cordain (among others). In his search for answers when it comes to nutrition, he began to find patterns that have remained true since the years of our Paleolithic ancestors. Eating Paleo is simply treating our bodies as we have for millions of years.
This Guide to Eating Paleo sums it up quite nicely in a beautiful way.
How Paleo Has Improved My Health and Well-Being
While my husband and I have been constantly reading and experimenting with the principles of the Paleo diet for almost 4 years, I can only speak from our personal experiences. Of course your mileage will vary, but I’ve lost a total of 60 lbs since beginning the transition into a Paleo lifestyle, ten of which I lost in the last three months during some more in-depth experimentation with sugars.
Over the years I’ve experimented with fasting, sugar restriction, small eating windows (windows of time, not actual windows ), exercising at different times of day, exercising in a fasted state and so much more, but Paleo was always at the heart of every change I made.
Weight loss aside though, the major reason that I love sharing the principles of Paleo with others is due to the way this lifestyle has made both me and my husband Jeff feel. I personally have more energy, sleep better, very rarely get sick and I currently feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I like to joke about it, but I’m currently at the lowest weight I’ve been since the first time around, meaning, in my adult life, I’ve never been the weight that I currently am now.
Once you transition away from processed foods and start focusing your attention on real foods, you begin to really understand your body.
For example, I used to think that the afternoon crash was just an inevitability of life. It can genuinely seem as though we’re hardwired to have an energy dip in the afternoon or that the cup of morning joe is an absolute necessity, but, at least for me, I quickly learned that these inevitabilities were merely side effects of the SAD (Standard American Diet). It’s very easy to consider these ailments simple facts of life, but once we begin to understand and feel how our bodies react to different foods, we can begin to live without the dependencies or adverse side effects that we have, quite possibly, taken for granted for years.
Let’s make a Paleo breakfast
Now let’s shift gears a bit so I can share some quick and easy ways to introduce your family to the Paleo lifestyle. We’ll start bright and early with breakfast.
When it comes to providing meals for others, including family and kids, that’s when planning ahead can be a big help. Now that school is back in session, I know you’re probably extremely busy, so here are five quick and easy Paleo breakfast options to help you jump right in.
5 Quick and Easy Paleo Breakfast Options
1. Banana-Nut Pancakes: I was recently on vacation in Miami and made this recipe for me, Jeff and a couple friends. Using three ingredients, I was able to have these pancakes ready to feed four people in just 15 minutes.
- Mash 2 bananas
- Combine with 2 heaping scoops of chunky almond butter (use peanut butter if you prefer, just know that peanuts are legumes and technically not Paleo) and blend with 4 eggs in a medium sized bowl.
- Mix well and scoop ¼ cup onto a hot griddle or flat pan over medium heat. Wait for bubbles to appear then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Top each pancake with a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips (the darker the better), if you prefer, and serve.
- You’ll notice that these won’t need any maple syrup or added toppings but feel free to top with fresh fruit if you’re looking for a little extra sweetness. And if you have a little extra time and want that savory, protein and fat boost, fry up some of my favorite sugar-free bacon as a side.
2. Eggs Over Easy Salad: This is my breakfast of choice when I need something in a pinch. Plus it’s a good source of protein and vegetables to start your day. If you have your veggies already cleaned, chopped and stored in the refrigerator it can take less than 5 minutes to put this breakfast together.
- Melt some grass-fed butter or coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat.
- Crack two eggs and cover then prepare your salad on a plate.
- Combine fresh baby spinach, peppers, onion, carrots, tomato, celery, avocado, broccoli or any of your favorite vegetables.
- Cook the eggs to your preferred doneness; I like mine over easy (the juices from the egg create a delicious dressing as you eat and run over the veggies).
- Season your salad with some sea salt and pepper, maybe a touch of avocado or olive oil and any other seasonings. Top it off with your two eggs and enjoy.
3. Breakfast Smoothie: For a super quick liquid option throw some spinach or kale in a blender along with some fresh or frozen fruit, additional vegetables, ice and blend for a quick and easy breakfast smoothie. Combine with 1-2 hard-boiled eggs (make these 1-2 days ahead and store them in the refrigerator) and this makes a great breakfast-on-the-go. You’ll find this recipe for my Banana-Pear Green Smoothie in Pigskin Paleo.
4. No Grain Granola Cereal: I regularly make Primal Granola Bars and store them in the freezer for occasional snacks. But if you’re missing that crunch that typical cereals provide, take some bars out of the freezer and break them apart in a bowl. Add some almond, coconut or whole milk and you’ve got yourself a Primal cereal.
5. Leftovers: Now, I’ve saved the best for last. What’s the quickest and easiest Paleo breakfast option? Well it’s sitting right there in your refrigerator. I find that one of the most hearty, satiating breakfasts that is most over looked are leftovers. For some reason we tend to get stuck in the routine of cereal, waffles and eggs being the only options for breakfast, but fortunately a simple trip to your refrigerator can yield a gold mine of chicken, steak, pork or turkey. Throw some fresh vegetables on your plate or into a skillet for a few minutes and you have yourself a complete Paleo breakfast in no time.
So that about does it! I hope I’ve whet your appetite to dig deeper into the world of Paleo nutrition.
For more Paleo recipes and to pick up a copy of my new book, Pigskin Paleo, head on over to MARLAsarris.com.
Have you tried paleo eating or are you thinking of trying it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!