4 reasons I (mostly) don’t eat grains

broccolini & pine nuts2broccolini & pine nuts3
broccolini & pine nuts4broccolini & pine nuts5
broccolini & pine nuts6broccolini & pine nuts7

Robb Wolf, who wrote The Paleo Solution has an interesting story.

After being a staunch vegan for many years and living on whole grains and legumes, Wolf was becoming more and more sick. His doctors didn’t know what was causing his problems.

Then one day Robb decided to go gluten free and start eating meat again. Quickly his health improved and basically he hasn’t looked back.

Now I’m not telling you this to say that a vegetairan diet is bad, I just wanted to share with you Robb Wolf’s story and get you thinking about the benefits to going grain-free.

4 ways grains negatively impact our health & well being

1. Damage to your gut lining
You’ve heard how grain impacts the intestines of coeliacs? According to Wolf we’re all impacted by grains, just not to the same extent as coeliacs. This damage means we aren’t able to absorb nutrients properly. So even if we are eating the right nutrients, our bodies aren’t able to use them.

2. Mineral deficiency
Grains contain phytates that bind minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc so that our bodies aren’t able to utilise them. This leads to deficiencies, even if the minerals are present in the body.

3. Autoimmune diseases & cancer
Once our guts are damaged we are at risk from autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, autism, MS, lupus (and more) and certain types of cancer such as pancreatic cancer. Not a pretty picture…

4. Weight gain
So the simple equation is that grains contain lots of carbohydrates.

Too many carbohydrates = too much insulin = fat bodies.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works, I recommend reading ‘Why We Get Fat’ by Gary Taubes OR this blog post I wrote earlier in the year.

And where am I at with healthy eating these days?

About this time last year, I had my first trial going grain-free after reading The Paleo Solution. In a nutshell eating ‘Paleo’ is all about ditching grains, legumes & dairy.

Eating like our paleolithic ancestors with lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, meat & fish.

And while I had more energy and was sleeping better, I didn’t lose any weight.

Then I read Gary Tabues’s book ‘Why We Get Fat’

I learned all about insulin and carbs and their place in the weight loss vs weight gain equation.

Suddenly I realised what was missing from my Paleo diet. I’d still been eating heaps of fruit, smoothies, potatoes and lots of sugar.

So I was undoing all my good grain-free work with carbs in other forms.

About the same time I read ‘The 4-Hour Body’ by Tim Ferriss

Which reinforced a lot of the lessons from Tabues.

Finally following Ferriss’ ‘Slow Carb’ diet, I got the results I was after.

This time last year I was running about 60km a week to maintain my weight. These days it’s more like 20km. And I’m running for fun, rather than to compensate for what I’m eating.

Where to from here?

I’ve evolved the ‘Slow Carb’ diet a little.

It’s still about avoiding grains, sugar & fruit and embracing vegetables, meat, fish & legumes. But unlike Ferriss I eat a little yoghurt and cheese. Not every day but a few times a week.

And I don’t have legumes with every meal. For me I’ve found eating more vegetables is the way forward. Although I still have lentils, chickpeas & beans a few times a week.

I’ve also stopped having a designated ‘cheat’ day like Ferriss suggests. Because I found myself feeling really icky after the over-indulgence.

It may be I just have one ‘cheat meal’ a week and have pasta and dessert. Or maybe there will be grains or dessert on a few different occasions. It depends on what’s happening and how I’m feeling. The aim is for moderation.

As Oscar Wilde would say, ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation’.

And I would add… including moderation AND vegetables.

broccolini & pine nuts

broccolini with pine nuts & butter beans
serves 2
takes 10 mins

This recipe began life as a veggie pasta in my first print book ‘And the Love Is Free‘.

To make it grain-free we just replace the pasta with canned butter beans. Too easy and even more delicious.

1 large bunch broccolini / broccoli chopped
1 can butter beans, drained
1 handful pine nuts
4-6 tablespoons cream
2 large handfuls finely grated parmesan

1. Bring about 2cm (1in) water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add a little salt and the broccolini / broccoli and simmer, covered for 5-7 minutes or until tender.

2. Meanwhile heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a fry pan / skillet. Stir fry the butter beans for a minute or until starting to brown.

3. Add pine nuts and cook for another 30 seconds or until the pine nuts are a little browned.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in cream.

5. Drain tender broccolini / broccoli well and toss in with the beans along with the parmesan. Season.

bean-free – replace the beans with about 250g (1/2lb) finely sliced chicken breasts or thighs. Stir fry the chicken in oil until cooked through before adding in the pinenuts.

basil – a handful of fresh basil leaves torn and tossed through would add a lovely pesto vibe.

cauliflower - with the cream and cheese, cauliflower would be a wonderful alternative to broccoli or broccolini

vegan / dairy-free replace the parmesan with an extra handful of pine nuts and instead of the cream, use a few tablespoons of the broccolini cooking water and a few tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil to make a sauce.

nut-free – replace the pine nuts with a handful of chopped chives sprinkled over at the end. OR brown some chopped bacon in the pan before cooking the butter beans.

– A few sliced cloves of garlic in with the butter beans wouldn’t go astray.


video version of the recipe

Jules x

ps. And a massive THANKYOU to everyone who purchased a copy of my new book, The Tired & Hungry Cook’s Companion. The response was far greater than I’d even dared to hope for. So thanks to all for your support. I really appreciate it!

Print Friendly


Cat October 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

p.s. Love the vegan options you offer, it means a lot to vegans when non-vegans acknowledge our choice, and especially when you show just how easy it can be to veganise a recipe! So often meat-eaters resent cooking for vegans because they expect it to be difficult, when in reality it rarely is.

jules October 26, 2011 at 4:30 pm

thanks cat
appreciate the vegan feedback… you’re right… it’s not that hard when you put a little thought into it…

gracepmc October 31, 2011 at 12:01 am

Enjoy “lurking” on your good and useful site. This is a comment on cream and thickeners. I substitute non fat Greek yogurt. I eyeball a lot and add to my taste. It occurred to me that you could use NFGY in this recipe as well. I also use it to thicken a broccoli cauliflower soup and when really lazy and wanting to avoid a whole can of coconut milk, I will take a few scoops of NFGT and add spices to make a curry sauce and then stir that into chicken or vegetables. And I have been known to add yellow curry and spices to the NFGT in the b/c soup.

Kellie October 31, 2011 at 8:24 am

Made this broccolini recipe last night, without the cream version! It was delicious and the whole family enjoyed it, including the kids. Will definitely make it again. Love your blog!

Ginny November 1, 2011 at 7:22 am

Any of you know of anyone getting sick from eating too LITTLE bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes?!
I’ve been an RN for many years and if you are overweight, have high blood sugar or A1C’s, or elevated cholesterol numbers, or BP’s, you should talk with your MD about whether cutting starchy & sugary carbs would improve your health.

C November 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Hey Jules
I’ve just been reading this article – http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/livestock/cattle/gedgaudas-primal-diet/2337182.aspx?storypage=0 – which made me think about this post you wrote.

Sid November 4, 2011 at 2:19 am

Wow, I hadn’t had a chance to read this blog in a few weeks and I guess I missed all the excitement. I have to love a food blog that stirs up more than just soup :) Keep up the good work Jules!

Glancing at some of the very angry grain-defense comments and personal attacks on Robb Wolf and Tim Ferris (people sure do get testy when someone says their bread could be bad for them don’t they?) made me think of this article I read the other day: http://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2011/10/26/you%E2%80%99ve-got-mail-you-idiot/. No one likes to have their paradigm shifted I guess.

Christi November 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

What a delightful recipe. I was wondering what to do with that can of butter beans my husband brought home. I added a bit of garlic and used a broccoli, cauliflower, carrot medley of vegetables. Very good. I will certainly be fixing this again.


Lauren November 4, 2011 at 10:43 am

Sadly, this post is the last straw for me. You’ve been posting more and more pseudoscience in recent months, and I can’t support someone who promotes woo. I will no longer be following this blog.

Em Kingham November 8, 2011 at 10:38 am

Hey Clance,
As you may know I’ve been blog stalking you for years now and I just wanted to say that I’m really glad you’ve been able to continue the momentum of your blog over the years. I thoroughly enjoy reading about your food exploits and my girls love seeing you cook via the videos. Interestingly though, I haven’t been on board with your food for some time, but I return time and time again because its great to indulge in someone else’s food perspective. Thanks for providing a window into a food world I don’t eat in, but love to look at. I hope you keep pushing the food envelope so that I can live vicariously through you! Its definitely great to have the choice. xxx

Hannah November 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

I think that this is a fabulous post!

As someone who comes from a family rife with auto-immune diseases including Lupus, Hashimotos and it looks like Multiple Sclerosis as well, I can say that a Paleo 2.0 diet (allows dairy) is the best choice I have made for my own health and that of my partner.

Personally, I don’t really like putting a label on it. For me, a gluten-free, low-carb and minimal dairy diet is what works best for me. Frankly, I know that heart palpitations after eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal is not a good thing. Needing a sleep is not a good thing either, and yet I have friends and family telling me that their sleep-inducing Weight Watchers cake mixes are ‘healthier’ than the whipped coconut milk and berries I have been known to serve at dinner parties. Whatever, to each their own.

I think it is bizarre that people should stop reading your blog because of your choices with food. Every single one of your posts can be ‘edited’ for any lifestyle. If they choose to be offended by your health choices and the fact that you’re honest about them, then that’s their loss.

Kris Erskine September 6, 2012 at 6:17 am

Oh heavens, I just read all the comments o.O I must do this with my other favourite recipes on this blog!

Feeding a family of six means I get cut price broccoli rather than broccolini but the rest of it is do able; last night had buttermilk left over from a 101 cookbooks recipe so used that instead of cream.

Fresh cooking the beans makes the dish far more crispy, tinned ones not so, more like mush which my children flat out refuse to eat.

Long time vegetarian here who went heavy on the carbs after ditching the meat, slowly finding some balance here again. We aim for but rarely succeed in ladening out plates half with veg of some description, quarter carbs and quarter protein. Seems to be working for us.

I’m very glad you’re finding things that work for you Jules and you’re not scared off by the “you’re wrong” and “I’m unsubscribing”.

Your recipes have turned my evenings into almost pure heaven. I’m enjoying cooking again, I’m enjoying walking in the door and knowing dinner will be ready in 15 to 20 minutes and it’s all far more harmonious around here.

Thank you for simple, fresh, delicious recipes.

jules September 15, 2012 at 1:17 am

Thanks for your lovely comment Kris!
And so glad Stonesoup has made cooking fun for you

Sandra September 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Been obsessed with your site all week and Just made this dish for lunch today. So simple, delish and SO much healthier than ducking down to get a burger or even skipping lunch all together. Thank you so much, so looking forward to making more of your ideas throughout the weeks ahead.

healthy easy recipes October 15, 2012 at 1:22 am

I may not be able to follow everything on this post (grain and stuff), but I sure agree that this dish tastes great. Nutritious obviously and wonderfully easy to prepare. Very good recipe.

jules November 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

So glad you liked it Shaun!
And you definitely don’t need to agree with me :)

Felicity March 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: