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 with pine nuts & butter beans
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.
garlic – A few sliced cloves of garlic in with the butter beans wouldn’t go astray.
video version of the recipe
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!