Did you know that when our ancestors when from being paleolithic hunters and gathers to settling into a neolithic farming way of life, they lost an average of six inches in height? Well I didn’t either until I came across a disturbingly titled blog post by Tim Ferris.
In How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days), Ferris publishes an excerpt from Robb Wolf’s fascinating book The Paleo Solution. Basically Wolf’s theory is that when our ancestors became neolithic they started farming and their diet changed dramatically to rely heavily on grains and dairy.
He is convinced this caused the loss in height because grains have a negative impact on our digestive systems. According to Wolf, a diet heavy in grains causes malabsorption of nutrients which leads to problems with our health and well-being. Not to mention auto-immune diseases.
While I was reading I was thinking, yes fine for people with senstitivies like celiacs, but I’m not sick, I don’t think this applies to me. But Wolf insists that even if you think you are ‘fine’, you’ll be better off if you follow a Paleolithic Diet and cut out grains, dairy and legumes. He’s pretty persuasive.
I figured that if I ate less grains, and replaced them with vegetables and fruit that would have to be a good thing. Particularly considering my recent discovery that I’m not eating as many veggies as I should.
So my Irishman and I decided to give it a try for a month. Grain, legume and (mostly) dairy free. If you’re interested, I kept a diary of what we ate and have detailed it at the end of the post.
And the results?
So far so good. We’ve both felt like we’ve had more energy. We’ve been sleeping more soundly as well. My weight has pretty much stayed the same, as has my % body fat (from the not-so-scientific bathroom scale measurement) but my waist to hip ratio has become closer to ideal. A good thing I guess. But the biggest benefit for me, apart from the extra energy has been I’ve felt less bloating over the month.
Interestingly, after the month was up and I did chow down on some bread, I felt pretty ick for the next day or so. Which could have been just in my head, but I’m not so sure.
where to from here?
We’ve decided to stick to being mostly Paleolithic for the time being, although without the restriction on dairy and legumes. I’m loving the switch to fresh fruit and smoothies for breakfast and I’m enjoying cooking with vegetables and getting more creative with my lunches rather than just defaulting to a sandwich.
I am missing my sourdough starter and my bread making, but I’m happy to give it a rest for a bit longer and treat grains as very occasional foods.
which brings me to the recipe
I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite paleolithic inspired meals. I made the original version with beef, in a bastardised spag bol with carrot ribbons to replace the spaghetti. It was so good I haven’t been missing my pasta at all.
Todays version with crumbled tofu isn’t strictly Paleo, given that soybeans are legumes. Robb Wolfe covers the question of vegetarianism in his book. His opinion is that it’s not a great idea but if you must be vegetarian, focus on getting as much protein as you can from tofu and the like.
If you’re a big cheese fan, serve with freshly grated parmesan, but honestly, you don’t need it.
If you’re into being a real paleolithic person, by all means use minced or ground beef in place of the tofu. If using beef, brown first then let it simmer in with the tomatoes.
I’ve made this with regular firm tofu as well as smoked tofu. While both were delicious, the smoked tofu did have a slight edge in interesting flavours. If you’re in Australia the earnest bean co makes a lovely smoked tofu.
2 brown onions, chopped
2 cans tomatoes (400g / 14oz each)
300g (10oz) firm tofu, crumbled
2 – 3 large carrots
small handful fresh basil leaves
1. Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and cook onion, covered over a medium low heat. Stir every now and then until the onion is soft but not browned.
2. Add tomatoes and their juices and break up with a spoon.
3. Bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 1/2 hour, or until the tomatoes have reduced into a lovely sauce.
4. Heat another few tablespoons of olive oil in another frying pan and brown the crumbled tofu over a medium high heat. Add the tomato sauce and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
5. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Shave carrot into long ‘noodles’ using a vegetable peeler.
6. Boil carrot noodles for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain well and return to the saucepan.
7. Season the tofu sauce generously. And toss a few tablespoons in with the cooked carrot.
8. Divide between 3 – 4 plates. Top with remaining sauce and a few torn basil leaves.
4 weeks of almost paleolithic diet
OK I was a bit slack with the dairy, but did follow to the letter with grains and legumes, even though I’m a massive lentil fan.
tues 12 Oct
l. tuna with chilli oil, mixed leaves with kale, Dijon, lemon
d. mixed sashimi, wakame salad
wed 13 Oct
b. apple + handful almonds
l. San Danielle proscuitto, Sicilian olives, carrot
d. pan fried salmon with ‘cauli-ganoush’ (cauliflower, lemon, tahini, olive oil)
steamed broccolini with lemon sherry vinegar dressing
thurs 14 Oct
b. tea with almond milk
papaya, lemon blueberries
l. roast tomato frittata, shaved cabbage parsley salad with sherry vinegar
d. Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts
shaved cabbage salad
fri 15 Oct
b tea with almond milk
l. pea salad (peas, bacon, butter lettuce, mint sherry vinegar)
d. pan fried salmon with aioli & za’atr
roast beets with pickled red onion
cold oil chips
dark chocolate with almonds
sat 16 Oct
soy flat white
l. roast mushies with garlic & thyme
d. marinated BBQ chook (smoked paprika, thyme, garlic, red wine vinegar)
potatoes with peas (garlic bay mint)
coconut vanilla pannacotta with roast rhubarb
sun 17 Oct
b. soy flat white
l. grilled asparagus with scrambled eggs & bacon
d. scotch fillets BBQ, romesco sauce, aioli,
BBQ yellow zucchini
mon 18 Oct
b. fresh pineapple
l. roast beets, pickled onion, roast walnut, rocket & sherry vinegar salad
d. cauliflower ‘pasta’ with peas & ricotta
tues 19 Oct
b. blueberry & papaya smoothie with coconut milk
l. roast chicken salad with tomato, avocado, sherry vinegar & parsley
d. red curry of potato, peas & cashews
wed 20 Oct
b. banana & blueberry smoothie with coconut milk
l. salad of roast chicken, raw jerusalem artichokes, rocket, lemon, dijon mustard
d. pineapple, apple, handful cashews (gastro day)
thurs 21 Oct
l. scrambled tofu with brazil nuts
carrot & romesco salad with mint
d. warm salad of smoked trout, kipfliers, dill, lemon & caperberries
steamed asparagus with lemon, sherry vinegar & olio
fri 22 Oct
b. banana smoothies with honey & vanilla
l. shaved fennel salad with tuna, lemon, caperberries & parsley
d BBQ beef burgers with roast beets, pickled onion, aioli & chilli jam
cold oil potato chips
sat 23 Oct
b. skim flat white
l. pork rillettes with pear chuntey
green beans with snowpeas
d. beef ragu with riced potatoes & green salad
dark chocolate extravaganza
sun 24 Oct
b /l. broad bean salad with bacon & mint + a poached egg
d. bbq leg of lamb with rosemary, lemon & anchovies
sauted mushrooms with wilted spinach
5 ingredient carrot cake – supermoist!
mon 25 Oct
l. green goddess soup
d. tofu sang choi bau
green bean salad with mustard & dill
tues 26 Oct
b. rhubab, blueberry & coconut milk smoothie
l. babaganoush, lamb, celery, mint, lemon
d. baked asparagus frittata (eggs, asparagus),
warm salad of softened red onions, wilted kale & parsley
wed 27 Oct
b. banana & blueberry smoothies
l. leftover lamb salad with rocket & tomato
d. 4 ingredient beef ragu – beef mince, tinned tomato, onion, butter
shaved fennel salad with peas, ricotta & mint
thurs 28 Oct
b. berry smoothies with banana & lemon & coconut milk
l. super simple broccoli with tuna pate and tuna in oil, lemon
d. steamed potato salad with lamb, aioli, mustard & parsley
roast beets with dill & red wine vinegar
sat 30 Oct
l. baked frittata with ricotta & bacon
d. BBQ steak with roast garlic aioli
potatoes roasted in duck fat
little carrot cakes with ice-cream
sun 31 Oct
b. flat white
l. potato & sausage frittata
d. BBQ pork spareribs with 5 ingredient BBQ sauce
red cabbage slaw
tues 2 Nov
b. berry smoothies with coconut milk
l. tuna with cherry tomato smoked paprika parsley & soybeans
d. chicken tikka curry
wed 3 Nov
l. pan fried eggplant salad with rocket & aioli
d. canned sardines
roast cauliflower, saffron & pinenuts
thurs 4 Nov
b. fresh pineapple
l. shaved carrot salad with Sicilian nut pesto & cashews
d. turkey salad with red onion & mixed leaves from the garden
sat 6 Nov
b. tea with milk
l. burgers with pickled onion beets & chilli jam
witlof & rocket salad with mustard dressing
d. BBQ leg of lamb with baharat & rosemary
slow cooked zucchini with mint
sun 7 Nov
l. baked frittata with chorizo
d. eggplant parmigiana
mon 8 Nov
l. tuna salad – mixed leave, chilli oil, lemon
d. salumi plate
grilled blue eye fish with tomato salsa
silverbeet with garlic