As a food lover who writes about her passion for a living, I often get asked how I manage to stay slim, given the nature of my work. Usually I just smile and shrug and tell them that I’m into running. And that seems to keep them happy. But the thing is I used to struggle with my weight, just like everybody else.
Then late last year, I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and decided to try eating ancestrally. Even after a few weeks I felt I was heading in the right direction. While I didn’t actually lose weight, my body shape started to change. My waistline became more slender – exactly what I was hoping for.
Paleo, primal, slow carb or ancestral eating, whatever you call it, there are many benefits of eating grain-free. From improving your blood chemistry, to losing weight, to increasing your energy levels, to improving your sleep and more. It’s almost been 9 months since I started eating grain-free. I’m finally in a place where I’m happy with my weight and I’m really enjoying what I eat. I’m running about one third of the distance I was last year. No more pounding the pavement to make up for what I ate.
But the best thing has been discovering that it’s much easier to ditch grains than you would think. In most cases there is a vegetable which fills the place of your bread or pasta or rice. And often they taste just as good, if not better than their grain equivalent.
So today I wanted to share a few tips for eating ancestrally. Enjoy!
- Have eggs for breakfast instead of cereal.
Eggs are a brilliant source of protein that keeps you feeling full much longer than a bowl of cereal ever will. Still concerned about cholesterol? Have a look at 7 reasons you should eat eggs for breakfast.
- Grate raw cauliflower instead of steamed rice.
A recent discovery, I’m just loving my new grain-free accompaniment to curries and stir fries. Just get raw cauliflower and grate it. Instant grain-free ‘rice’. And the brilliant thing it that it’s super quick if you get your food processor to do the hard yards. No more gluggy rice to worry about.
- Zucchini your noodles.
For an alternative to spaghetti or other long pasta, roast some finely sliced zucchini (courgettes). And serve with your favorite pasta sauce.
- Carotti your spaghetti. Shave a carrot or two into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then simmer until tender. Presto! Orange ‘spaghetti‘.
- Make thin omelets instead of pizza bases.
Pizza can be difficult to go without. Try making a thin egg omelet in your non-stick pan and topping with your favorite pizza topping and popping under an overhead grill.
- Or try a meatza
Something I’m yet to make myself. Hard core paleo fans replace their pizza bases with a big flat disc of ground beef.
- Replace flour with almond meal (or other ground nuts).
This only works for some situations, like using flour or breadcrumbs to coat meat. Or in baked goods.
- Use pureed cauliflower instead of polenta.
Pureed cooked cauliflower is a great alternative to soft polenta or corn meal.
- Try lettuce wraps instead of bread.
For those who love their sandwiches, try washed lettuce – iceberg works really well – to wrap your favorite fillings. Think sang choi bau with so many possibilities. Just remember that lettuce isn’t as satisfying as bread so you’ll need to make your fillings more substantial.
- Serve your burgers without the bun.
Let’s face it. The best part of the burger is the meat and the sauce. Just increase your burger size and serve it without the bun.
- Or try a mushroom burger instead.
Just roast or grill two large field or portabello mushrooms until tender. Then use these exactly like you’d use a hamburger bun.
- Salads or soups not sandwiches.
If sandwiches are your default ‘healthy’ lunch, just switch to a salad or soup. If you’re used to making your own lunch, it doesn’t take any more time to make a salad. Just keep the dressing in a separate container to add just before you eat.
- Use chocolate for sweet treats.
For those with a sweet tooth, I know a life without pastries and cakes can seem a little dull (see point 15). But then there’s chocolate. Start exploring the wonderful world of dark chocolates, preferably with a high (60-70%) cocoa solids content.
- Wine not beer.
If you enjoy a drink or two, going grain free doesn’t mean you need to get on the wagon. Wine is not only grain free, it is lower in carbs than beer. It’s also a source of antioxidants. Cheers!
- 100% compliance isn’t required.
While coeliacs are unable to tolerate even the tiniest amount of gluten, most people will still see the benefits of going grain-free even without 100% compliance. I tend to have one day a week where I’m indulging in sourdough bread and cookies which staves off any cravings the rest of the week. Later is much easier to live with than never.
‘Carotti’ Bolognese Recipe
This is my minimalist version of a beef ragu or bolognese sauce. The secret is in the butter. Feel free to substitute your own favorite pasta sauce.
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans tomatoes (400g / 14oz)
large knob butter
2 medium carrots
- Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and cook beef and garlic, stirring every now and then for about 5 minutes or until well browned.
- Add tomato and simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced and good saucy.
- Meanwhile bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Shave the carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler.
- Cook carrots for 3 – 5 minutes or until al dente like cooked pasta.Drain.
- Toss butter into the beef sauce and season.
- Return the carrot to the saucepan and stir in some beef sauce. Then divide between plates and top with more sauce