4 reasons I (mostly) don’t eat grains


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!


  • According to some medical journal I read a wee while ago, eating something rich in vit c alongside beans & grains that contain phytates helps counteract the negative effects they have on mineral absorption. Soaking also helps remove some of the phytates. So at least if people do have a cheat day there’s a strategy for minimising those effects.

    Love the sound of this dish too…I can imagine the rich nutty flavours and the slight richness from the parmesan. Yum.

  • Zo
    Thanks for the heads up about soaking and vit C… actually I’ve read something similar now i think of it.. good to be reminder.

    And yes it’s really delish… I love how the broccolini soaks up the cheesy sauce. So good

  • Robb Wolf, Gary Taubes, Tim ferris…. wow, please don’t continue down this avenue. I’m here for good recipes for simple and tasteful meals, not for hogwash on grains/carbs. (nothing wrong with low carb recipes though)

  • It’s actually Mark Twain who should be correctly credited for the moderation quote.

  • I’m with WAZZUP on this. I love the recipes and your approach but don’t need lectures in food fads. Perhaps if you are planning to turn the site into a forum for food fashion, please could you present the counter argument from medically qualified nutritionists?

    A Doctor friend recently attended a lecture on eating disorders at a well known clinic in London, it is clear from the clinic’s prospective, that these fad diets are very harmful. It is worth noting that it was so long argue that people were proposing the high carb diet, such as the F plan diet.

    The above aside, keep up the good work!

  • Personally, I like hearing about stuff like this, I find it interesting to hear what works for different people.

    I myself went paleo a few months ago and have never felt better…..but that’s me. What works for one person does not neccesarily work for another. It was a hard adjustment at first (mainly creatively and socially), but after about 2 weeks I felt much less hungry all the time than before I started, my skin cleared up, my moods were more even and I had much much more energy. I don’t know all the science behind it but my personal experience has been positive and at the end of the day that’s what I trust most.

  • With respect, if your blog is going to head down this path I’m going to have to stop reading it. I love your recipes and photography, but Robb Wolf and Tim Ferris are exploitative, pseudoscientific shysters. I have no problem with you posting about your own personal, anecdotal experiences trying out any kind of diet you please, but to tell people that grains are harmful—as though such a thing were an actual fact—is to actively discourage people who might be trying to eat healthier from even bothering.

    As James said above, if you’re going to go down this route, at least present the advice of medically qualified nutritionists, rather than people with books to sell. Fad diets are very harmful.

  • Hi Jules,
    I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now. Mainly because being myself a Paleo Diet follower and not much of a cook, I needed some help with recipes, and I found in your blog “a help in need”, thank you for all the ideas. And thank’s for today post.

  • Yey! I have coeliac disease and it’s nice to read something that I can relate to.. although my boyfriend is a vegetarian and we basically only eat vegetarian at home. Maybe some nice vegetarian AND gluten free recipes would be good..?

    //Johanna from Sweden

  • Do you find it takes a bit of the joy out of life avoiding fruit?! It’s such a broad category of food fruit, that I wonder if it’s wise to generalise… For instance the sugar in an apple or watermelon comes with so much fibre and water that we’re unlikely to overdose on the carbs. Also does it concern you that avoiding fruit means you miss out on a rich source of minerals and vitamins? The vitamin C in fruit can assist in the iron absoption from grains and legumes.

    I do wonder if the vegan chappy Robb, felt lots better on meat, because he was simply getting a good hit of haem based accesible iron – nothing to do with the grains factor?

    There is also compelling scientific evidence turning up in the last year or two regarding meat eating and colorectal cancer.
    It would certainly seem that ‘moderation’ in meat eating has some scientific evidence behind it.

    Finally, I am wondering what you would advocate for children concerning the consumption or not of grains? Although contrary to Robb, Ferris and Wolf I would have thought a breakfast of soaked barley, or oats with some calcium and protein rich yoghurt and milk and fruit on top would be a five star start to the day for my little kids!

    I think your best contribution to my eating and family meals has been the fast prep and few ingredients concept. This I do sing your praises about, and am truly grateful for. Has revolutionised my cooking and given me a little more ‘me time’ – a rare commodity for a Mum.

  • As a diabetic, I know that grains do a number on my blood glucose levels. I went low carb this past February, giving up grains and have maintained normal levels since then. Added benefit was weight loss (68lbs so far) and improvement in my arthritis and energy levels. Several of your recipes are in my regular rotation (Shaved Cabbage Salad and Ground Beef with Buttery Zucchini for example) and have helped me a lot. Just wanted to say thanks.

  • I went Paleo for several months at the beginning of the year. At first it was for weight loss but soon I kept it up because I was sleeping better, had more energy, and felt better than I had in years. Another thing about it was that I found myself enjoying food more. Stopping to taste things instead of just eating quickly to get to the next activity. I ate a LOT of fruit and still lost the 20 pounds I was trying to lose. I really enjoyed the Paleo diet and I plan to go back to it.

  • This was awesome to read as a new convert to the paleo/primal lifestyle. We have a few instances where we need to break rules (in order to survive the dramatic meals prepared by in laws and avoiding insulting them, which happens easily) and that always results in me feeling ill.

    But it’s so awesome to read about someone else who has found the grain free lifestyle. The trick for us now is sticking to it, even when we feel lazy (and I’m not allowed to exercise right now because of stitches… boo!)

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe with the chicken breasts and maybe some cashews tossed in. Looks so yummy!

  • A delicious and refreshing-sounding way for us to prepare broccolini next time – we make it about 3 times a week, we love it so! (We usually just flash boil them and sautee them with garlic and red pepper flakes – this will be a great change-up!)

  • False blog info – Traditionally people DID eat grains. Check out “Nourishing Traditions”. Countries traditionally soaked them over night with a bit of whey or sea salt. That started the sprouting or fermenting and digestive process, so you COULD break it down and assimilate it’s nutrients.
    Rice, corn and oats are “gluten free” so you can’t put them in the statements about ALL grains.
    Very dissapointed, in the inacurate info this blog is portraying, though I love the recipe’s. Nothing against the blog as a whole, just some of the statements.

  • Thank you for posting about this. Please don’t get discouraged!
    A while back I followed a link to a Taubes Lecture that someone provided on here. And I found a lot of great information and keep finding new stuff every day. Thank you, someone!
    We now know why my husband gained Kilo after Kilo in spite of more and more physical activity. And why healthy whole grains gave me a painful grain belly every morning. We have since ditched Pyramid – style eating and are very happy with the results.
    Best wishes from Switzerland

  • I just recently signed up for this blog and have really enjoyed it thus far, but today I was really, very dissapointed by the quick fad diet post promoting the elimination of an entire food group from the diet. For many reasons, this type of thinking can be dangerous. I am a dietetic intern at the University of Texas at Austin and have much experience in this field.
    Many things immediately were wrong with this post. First, advising people blindly and universally to eliminate an entire WHOLE food group is not acceptable, feasible, or necessary. Everyone has unique needs because our bodies are all different, and these fad diets don’t consider this. There is no universal diet for everyone! Robb Wolf found something that worked for him, but he should not be promoting it as the key to health for everyone. But he has to make money somehow, and he’s taken himself into an industry that makes about $40 billion a year, so congrats to him. Also consider, these recommendations came from Robb after he experienced many problems being a vegan, and it is very hard to be a healthy, nutritionally balanced vegan. Many problems can arise and usually supplementation is necessary to avoid complications.
    Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune complication where people are basically allergic to gluten which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. This can produce extreme malabsorption/malnutrition health complications. And some people are to different degrees intolerant of gluten, but this is not the general population. Also, gluten is not in every grain, and there are so many grains out there besides wheat, rye, and barley. The way this was all stated on the blog didn’t really make sense and is grossly misinforming. On the phytate argument…phytates are found in not only grains, but nuts and seeds. So, how can you say that phytates are one of the reasons to not eat grains and turn around and say that you should be eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and fish instead? Again, totally misleading and wrong, just wrong information! One of the bloggers said that there are ways to lessen the effects of phytates in the foods you eat and they were spot on with combining vitamin C, soaking, and other cooking methods. Not to mention, most people get their minerals from many other sources and because these are MICROnutrients they are not needed in great amounts and most individuals are not running the risk of becoming deficient in these nutrients. Fortified foods also help to prevent this. There are also many benefits to phytic acid in the body on a cellular level, but that’s not really mentioned either. I just really don’t see the science behind these arguments, they are not weighed, and they are not very relevant to the general population. You are writing to people who are not educated in this field and you have a responsibility to report accurate information, especially because you have a background in food science! Were you just promoting? One of the arguments for not eating grains was that it could cause malnutrition. So you’re telling someone to eliminate an entire food group, whole foods that is, to alleviate the risk of malnutrition. In-credible and irresponsible!
    Another argument was that carbohydrates just simply make you fat…Well that’s just ridiculous. Glucose, a carbohydrate, is your bodies main source of energy. Complex carbohydrates are a bodies best friend and they come from plants foods. For the average person the diet should contain about half its kilocalories from carbohydrates. So here, you’re not only again, grossly misinforming people but making them fear a fuel source which is a fundamental resource to our bodies and survival. There are multiple reasons why we are facing an obesity epidemic in this country, but the consumption of whole grains is not one of those.
    It is very important to make nutritional information accessible to the public so that they can make better choices to create a healthier and happier lifestyle for themselves and loved ones. It is information like this, given on this blog post that creates confusion, misguidance, and ultimately demotivates people to make crucial and relevant lifestyle change. Please think a bit harder before you post. Sharing Robb’s story or your story for that matter is not a negative thing. It’s when people turn their stories into a credo and sell it as if it were the cure that we all get into to trouble.

    • Well said!!! I hope people take note of your comment because it’s so important. This blog post is incredibly misleading.

  • Great recipes, controversial diet advice from self proclaimed experts. A great article for encouraging readers to hit that “unsubscribe” button !

  • Thanks for the comments everyone!

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.

    My intention with this post was just to share where I’m at in terms of healthy eating these days. Because as a food lover the health side of eating is important to me. I’ve change the post title so it is more consistent with this message (4 reasons I don’t eat grains) rather than the original title (4 reasons you shouldn’t eat grains)

    Stonesoup is still (and always will be) a blog about blog about fresh, healthy, delicious recipes that are quick to prepare. I have no intention (or interest) in turning it into a ‘forum for food fashion’ or a debate on nutrition science :)

    Really Mark Twain not Oscar Wilde? Wow… I’ve thought it was my favourite Wilde quote for ages… you live and learn.

    I haven’t ever been a big fruit person so it’s not really an issue for me. I’m happier eating kale and broccoli on an everyday basis. Although that being said, I do love the occasional fruit based dessert.

    In terms of grains and children, I don’t have any children of my own so can’t really speak from experience on that question.

  • Wow, this post has stirred up some controversy! I whole-heartedly agree with your advice for MODERATION – and ( I recently posted on this, too) I believe that moderation does *not* have to equal restriction. Personally, I don’t eat meat because I don’t like where it comes from … but other than that, I just want to have the greatest amount of variety in my diet as possible. I don’t know what the right thing is to do (should I cut out this? or that?) … but I’m a scientist, so I want *evidence*. Until then, I’m going to live according to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules :).

    PS. *Lovelovelove* broccolini. Yum! xx

  • It always interests and amuses me when people advocate the diet of pre-historic man, or even the diet of historical times. How long did those people live again? And they grew to what height? Methinks it was not something we should necessarily be copying.

    Jokes aside, I do struggle with interpreting the vast amounts of so-called evidence against carbs and grains. My biggest issues are these: what does one give up (the nutrients, enzymes, anti-carcinogenics, etc) when you give up fruit and nuts and grains? And secondly, what other risks do you take on eating a diet heavy in meats? A friend of mine has her family on a no-dairy, no gluten, no nuts, no soy diet, which realistically means that her kids eat a TON of meat. Her 6-yr old daughter is starting puberty. That’s just scary.

    What was that again about “moderation”?

  • I’d just like to point out that there’s no evidence that grains cause autism, although there is some questionable anecdotal evidence that people with autism spectrum disorders may also have similar problems digesting grains in a similar fashion to someone with celiac disease. Autism is most likely genetic and is not an autoimmune disease. An adult cannot acquire autism from eating grains it is something you are born with or otherwise which develops early in childhood.

  • I am another convert to less grain intake. I was a vegetarian for 20 years, vegan on and off. After putting meat back in my diet (grassfed organic) and fat, lots of healthy fats, while ditching most grains, I feel like a million bucks. I sleep better. My moods are stable. I am not cold, no cold extremities anymore. I go for hours without feeling hungry unlike before when I was always starving 2 hours after a meal. I followed the advice of Dr. Davis of the Heart scan blog and Wheat belly blog, and checked my blood sugar after various meals, which was incredibly edifying as to what my body tolerates. What a journey this has been! My body is finally finding peace and humming along happily while enjoying wonderfully good food without deprivation.
    Thank you for your fantastic recipes and gorgeous pictures!! Looking forward to more almond flour-based recipes for baking and desserts from you. Love, love, love the carrot cake one.

  • First some food links:

    For some science and nutrition information regarding a more traditional diet which includes nuts and grains but they are soaked first: http://www.westonaprice.org/
    The site is hard to navigate but there is tons of information packed in it.

    Information regarding healing the body through healing the gut (including improving autism symptoms): http://gapsdiet.com/
    The book is a bit confusing and the diet is difficult to follow but I’ve heard good things about it anecdotally.

    The difference between grass fed beef and feedlot beef: http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Page.bok?template=nutrition.html

    An article about gut bacteria and health: http://www.research1st.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Bacteria_in_your_body.pdf

    Some nutrition science from a doctor that cured her MS through diet:

    Yes, there is tons of conflicting info out there and everyone’s body is different. I’m in experimental mode right now. I’ve gone two months mostly grain and sugar free but I have cheated. I feel so much better eating like this. However, I’m finding that I’m wanting grains again so I’m reintroducing soaked grains. Food is such a hot button topic for people. I’m old enough that I’ve seen several iterations of diets even from nutritionists. At this point I’m just listening to my body.

    The thing that worries me, particularly here in the US, is the adulteration of our food. We have an explosion of people that can’t tolerate gluten but I’m wondering if it is because we have tinkered with the genetics of the grains themselves. We now have GMO corn, soy, oats, wheat. We also have feedlot beef here where the cows are confined and fed grains instead of allowing them to roam free and eat grass. This drastically alters the chemistry of the meat and in a way that isn’t good for humans.

    But I digress. Keep up the good work. Love your blog.

  • Wow!
    The most shocking part of these comments is how narrow minded people are. Some of you are claiming to be ‘long time readers’ of this blog. If this were the case I think we can all agree that Jules has not been pushy with be ‘eating healthy right now’ beliefs and has always presented her information in a way that says ‘here’s what I’m doing now…take it or leave it.’
    Things to consider before raging on the message board today:
    1. Jules has provided sufficient information and sources on her food choices and
    rarely ‘promotes’ her way of eating however I’m sure being a food blogger she often gets asked about healthy eating and thusly writes about how SHE’S eating.
    2. This is a food blog first and foremost and if you’re going to choose to not read because she mentions that she doesn’t eat grains–your loss.
    3. Lastly, Its HER BLOG! The last time I checked when you own the domain you can write whatever you want.
    Relax people and remember the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function (F. Scott Fitzgerald-1936). If you don’t like her suggestions, ignore them. Simple.
    Now go and eat some bread or something…

  • Hi Clance
    WOW you have stirred the pot with this one!
    It always amazes me how we are miles apart and doing ‘different things’ with our time day to day yet some how we are on similar food paths . . . the lastest book I have read is Gut and Psychology Syndrome by DR. NATASHA CAMPBELL-MCBRIDE …. here is the link to her site http://gapsdiet.com/Home_Page.html
    It’s all very interesting and I am now making, stocks, Kefir and am going to attempt sauerkraut this week – oh yeah a trip back to the Food Processing Lab!!!!
    Lots of love Jane xxx

  • My favourite quote on moderation is from Dr John Tickell:
    ‘Everything in moderation except laughter, sex, vegetables and fish. But not all at the same time.”

  • Firstly I want to say- Well said Migasaurus! Summed up just what I wanted to say.

    And to Jules- I really appreciate these posts. I too, like many other food lovers are interested about all the new information out there about our diets, nutrition and weight loss. Ive recently started work outs with the ‘crossfit’ community, and they are big on the Paleo way- but mainly cutting out wheat and sugar.
    I love to hear it is supported by other people and studies also.
    Whilst I find it too hard to cut out wheat completely, I am certainly eating it in moderation. And honestly- that has been the key with many diets hasn’t it! Nothing new there.
    Thanks again!

  • jules >> I’ve change the post title so it is more consistent with this message (4 reasons I don’t eat grains) rather than the original title (4 reasons you shouldn’t eat grains)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This changes context of the post a little, from claiming something as empirical fact to sharing your personal experiences. Personal anecdotes and opinion stated as opinion are always okay. I still think the presentation of “4 ways grains negatively impact our health & well being” is worrisome, but I’m happy to merely disagree about the science and your choice of expert opinion; the change of title is an improvement at least, and I’m so glad you listened to some of your listener feedback.

    Migasaurus>> Lastly, Its HER BLOG! The last time I checked when you own the domain you can write whatever you want.

    Yes, it’s Jules’s blog – that’s why her words are below the headline. The opinions of her readers, as invited, are in the comment section. The comments Jules received for this post was, as far as I can see, from frequent visitors who otherwise enjoy reading her blog, and wanted to offer her some honest feedback. Personally, I feel very so strongly about the post that I decided to let her know that it had made me consider not reading it any more; I could have just stopped reading the blog (not straight away – it would take about three posts like this to drive me away) but I enjoy visiting and wanted to extend her a courtesy. Naturally, Jules is free to write however she pleases, but she also seems like a rational, intelligent writer who would be interested in knowing how her readers feel. She is then free to do whatever she wants with that information. I, for one, am glad she is interested to hear from her readers!

  • Hi Jules,
    I enjoy reading (almost as much as watching your videos ;) your perspective on food and cooking very much.
    I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with Migasaurus.
    Keep up the interesting blog.


  • It really makes me wonder where people get their information when they dismiss the primal/paleo way of eating by saying that our prehistoric ancestors were “short” and “didn’t live very long”. They were quite tall in areas where there was plenty of (non-grain) food to be had. Historically speaking, people became short on average around the start of the agricultural revolution, when we started to eat grains.
    And the few people who weren’t killed by violent means or due to exposure lived rather long lives. They didn’t die young because of lack of grains.

    I understand that people are unwilling to follow paleo — it’s a big thing to ditch breads and pasta — but please don’t use these unfounded claims as your excuse. Do your research. And don’t call people book-selling quacks without finding out who those people are and checking out their credentials.

  • Wow. Grains will make me autistic? Crazy.

    I do like some of your recipes and will adjust them to suit my diet, but I agree that presenting popular diet trends detracts from what I get out of your blog. It also makes me less willing to sign up for a course knowing that the meals will be based off of these trends.

    I have IBS and switching to a paleo style diet would be HORRIBLE for my health. Food is not one size fits all. No matter how persuasive Tim Ferriss is. That is why I adjust your recipes.

    Perhaps your blog should be marketed as a paleo blog? Then people will know from the start that you offer a certain type of recipe selection.

  • I watched a Woody Allen movie (Can’t remember the name). He wakes up in the future and everything that was “bad” for us today, was good and vice versa – so hot fudge sundays were the “power breakfast”. Then recently MSN Health ran an article about candy is healthy for you (In moderation of course), so I take all food thoughts lightly and wait until I can start my healthy eating diet with a chocolate bar and can of my favorite soda :) I love the broccoli recipe though – thank you!

  • Just followed this recipe and tastes great, thanks !

    One question though: how do you feel about heating-up the olive oil ? I’ve been told that you destroy the good parts of it by doing that. And especially the cold pressed one.

  • I find it rather horrendous that you claim that by eating grains you can ‘catch’ autism. Autism Spectrum Disorders are neural development disorders, and the signs are usually noticed within the first 2-3 years of life. This means that as an adult, you are entirely unable to develop or catch autism, only to receive a very belated diagnosis. Eating grains will NOT give you autism. Yes, some scientists say that children with parents who have autoimmune diseases may be more likely to have autism, which may be where you got this idea from, but eating grains will not make you autistic. Saying so is as plausible as saying that eating granola will turn your hair purple. It is not only completely illogical but is also absolutely, 100% false.

  • Hi,

    First time commenting. I skipped right over the Paleo etc stuff (I admit I roll my eyes since I’ve never eaten meat as an adult but everyone’s different–no news there) and got right to the recipe. Just want to share my slight variation–this is delicious!

    -The store was out of broccolini and I didn’t feel like broccoli. So I used rapini chopped rough and steamed for just a minute or so.
    -Store didn’t have butter beans, so I used cannellini. They didn’t drain well because they had a mushy sort of liquid and I didn’t think to rinse. So I didn’t get any browning action.
    -chopped two huge cloves of garlic and sauted for a minute in the olive oil before adding beans.
    -I assumed light cream would be fine (rather than heavy)
    -parm cheese pre-grated in a jar, but still better than the standard stuff.
    -cashew bits instead of pine nuts–they have been so expensive here lately! (northeast US)

    This is great. I just finished it up and it’s really delicious! I’m looking forward to trying it again with the broccolini or cauliflower…and I have to find some butter beans (are they the giant beans used in baked beans sometimes? Not sure. Have to look it up).

    Thanks for this great addition to my collection of favorites! :)

  • I made this dish last night (with a few modifications) and it was absolutely delicious. As butter beans and pine nuts are really hard to find in my part of town, I used white (cannelini) beans instead and chopped in a bunch of garlic. I might be eating this at least once a week for the foreseeable future; thank you!

    As for the diet contraints – it should definitely depend on each individual and one should listen to their body. I have found low-carb meals improve my energy levels and general well-being; therefore I shall investigate further. I am currently trying to go nearly grain-free to see what result it brings me.

    P.S. I have found the variations at the end of your recipes immensely useful.

  • @Migasaurus: I think your comment came about 48 hours after the post first appeared, when it was still titled “4 reasons you shouldn’t eat grains” (it’s still in the permalink). The content of the post was mild-mannered enough, but as soon as I saw the title, I thought, “Oh boy, Jules is gonna pay the price for ‘shoulding’ on people!”

    Whenever you tell your audience “you shouldn’t”–especially if it’s in the context of politics, religion or food–you can expect a chorus of backlash.

    Kudos to Jules for taking the “why I do/don’t” approach to sharing her insights and experiences going forward. People will still complain, but at least they can’t accuse her of citing opinions as facts.

  • Jules,
    I have been reading your blog from time to time for a while now. I was at first disappointed to read your post since it does seem a bit dogmatic for my tastes, but was relieved to learn a couple things when I read the comments.
    First, & most importantly, you were not overly defensive or wounded by people’s strong reactions. As a blogger myself, I know how hard that can be. I often have to step away from the computer for a while before I can respond. Well done.
    Second, I am happy to see that many of the other commenters understand that there is no such thing as one-diet-fits-all. For some, vegan keeps their bodies healthiest. For others, it’s paleo. Que so-what, so-what. It’s a big tent. No blogger can be all things to all people. To try to disprove that is a recipe for misery. Not that you don’t already know that.

    I, for one, intend to keep reading. And looking, too. Your blog is so clean and pretty, I feel lighter for having visited. :)


  • First, I’d like to say that whatever works for you personally is great, so I don’t have a problem with you talking about any of this stuff.

    But I am actually really excited that you’re exploring these kinds of low-carb / grain-free diets. That is kind of where my interests are going these days, both for my own health and because I have a partner with significant / mysterious digestive issues. I’ve been reading a lot about Paleo-type diets. Just finished the Robb Wolf book, in fact. Gotta check out the Gary Taubes!


  • I’m glad you ditched the original post title, there are too many ‘shoulds’ in life as it is. I read StoneSoup for pleasure and inspiration, not another guilt trip!

  • Hi Jules,
    Would you mind sharing with your readers the citations for the evidence you have for point 1 (grains cause intestinal damage) and point 3 (intestinal damage caused by grains is causally linked to type 1 diabetes, autism, MS, lupus and pancreatic cancer?

    Also a citation for the evidence that autism is an autoimmune disease?

    On a slightly different tangent, here are some articles you might find interesting in assessing the rationale behind the paleo diet. all but the first are available free online.

    Kislev et al (1992) Epipalaeolithic (19,000 BP) cereal and fruit diet at Ohalo II, Sea of Galilee, Israel. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology Volume 73, Issues 1-4 p 161-166.

    Piperno et al (2004) Processing of wild cereal grains in the Upper Palaeolithic revealed by starch grain analysis NATURE VOL 430 p 670- 673

    Revedin, A. et al. (2010) Thirty thousand-year-old evidence of plant
    food processing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2010 vol. 107 no. 44 18815-18819 doi:10.1073/pnas.1006993107 (mostly cattail and fern rhizomes but also seeds of Brachypodium spp)

    Henry et al. (2011) Microfossils in calculus demonstrate consumption of plants and cooked foods in Neanderthal diets (Shanidar III, Iraq; Spy I and II, Belgium) PNAS vol. 108 no. 2 486-491 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006993107


  • Hi, I just signed up to this blog about an hour ago.

    I am a nutritionist in France. We all react differently to food based on our genetics. I believe (and see it every day) a food is not “good” or “bad” or healthy/unhealthy per se.

    When we eat a food, it comes in contact with a unique person whose body is going to consider it friend, foe or “medecine-like”. Hippocrates already knew this: food can be our medecine and also some foods act like toxins in some people.

    Each one of us just needs to get it right. That is our responsibility if we want to consider food as a main player in our health.

    Personally a meat/fish/poultry and vegetable based diet is the best for me. Grains and milk products drain my energy to say the least. I have clients for whom the opposite happens when they adopt a heavy animal protein based diet. Of course there is more subtlety in it than this simplification.

    I love this website as a cooking ressource and am excited to recieve my first emails from Jules.

  • Reading the Gary Taubes book “Why we Get Fat” has been a frightening eye-opener about how dangerous group-think and bad science can hijack the truth. He quotes the research studies and lays out the history of how we have arrived at the present situation of an obesity epidemic while following the standard dietary guidelines. He advocates further research but the evidence he’s presented is compelling enough for me. Furthermore my own experience aligns with what I’ve read in his book. I wonder if all you people who are so pro grain/carb based diets have read the book and considered the case he makes about the rotten science underlying the current dietary guidelines?

    As someone who has suffered all my adult life with very distressing gastrointestinal symptoms as well as relentless weight gain, I really appreciate finding this blog and great recipes to support my dietary requirements. I’ve been diagnosed via medical doctors (allergy/food intolerance and gastroenterologist specialists not alternative people practicing questionable approaches), as being wheat and lactose intolerant with crohns disease and ulcerative oesophagitis. I have also stacked on the weight by eating a very high carb diet all my life based on pasta, bread, cereals, pastry, biscuits, cakes and confectionery.

    Since my diagnosis I’ve found enormous relief by ditching most grains as well as lactose and my former high sugar diet. Not only has this put a stop to all my IBS and food intolerance symptoms but I’m happily and easily losing weight without feeling the extreme deprivation I’ve had on low calorie/high carb based diets. I’m hoping that in the long term it will also cure the ulcers in my gastrointestinal tract, now that I’m not irritating it with foods it cannot digest. Low-carb is the most sustainable and healthy way of eating that I’ve ever attempted in order to lose weight. I’m eating more vegetables than every before and not filling up on empty calories with processed sugars and starches. I will reintroduce some complex carbs and fruit when I feel I’ve got my weight and eating behaviour under control. How can this be bad?

    I don’t think that a high-carb diet is bad for everyone but the evidence is overwhelming that it’s not helpful to the vast majority of people who struggle with weight and IBS issues. Those of you who do fine on it don’t seem to appreciate how detrimental it can be for the rest of us.

  • Wow – talk about a hornet’s nest! I am all for these posts Jules so keep them coming. I am interested in those who have given you a serve for taking grains off the menu? There is a reason why there are so many people out there with coeliac disease – and it is not a fad or a trend or weirdo waffle – it is a disease due to a severe allergic reaction to grains. I know as I am a sufferer and I haven’t looked back since giving up grains. My iron and zinc levels are now way up there and I fell so much better. Same for my ten yr old who is also a coeliac. The change in him has been amazing – we don’t miss them one bit and every time we have a check up the real results tell me that we made the right choice. Wheat gets its way into way too many products – you just need to read packaging to see it lurking – we all eat way too much of it without even knowing. Looking forward as always to your next post!

  • I personally am really impressed with the way you, Jules, have responded so thoughtfully to the comments made in response to your post. Reading through everything, the only thing I don’t like is when people voice their disagreement, someone has to react by calling the person with a different point of view ‘narrow minded’. I stood up to be counted recently on something I found to be disgusting and depraved left on a school reunion site and was immediately branded by the author as ‘narrow minded’. Voicing an opposing view or disagreement does not make one narrow minded. I think when we publish in the public domain, we have to be prepared for different points of view to be expressed. I applaud the maturity and thoughtfulness with which you have handled all the different points of view and although I have no interest at all in any of this what we should and shouldn’t eat stuff, I have enjoyed your blog for a long time, I have purchased all of your ebooks and you have now gone up even higher in my estimation.

  • We cooked this last night, the vegan version with added garlic. Absolutely delicious! And very easy :)

    Thank you so much, you’ve just given us another perfect quick weeknight dinner.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I came upon your site cause I too use broccoli instead of pasta and rice. I have issues with ankles hurting and chest acne if my diet is high on grains and certain meats. My go-to healing meals is: Broccoli Florets, Okra, Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Pasta Tomato Basil Sauce, and Walnuts. If I am going to eat bread, I eat Ezekials Cinnamon Raisin bread smothered in Coconut Butter and honey. For some reason, I am able to tolerate Ezekials and this carb flattens rather than inflames my stomach.

    • I think of them as ‘slow’ carb Joanie because of the fiber and (relatively) higher protein… they don’t spike blood sugar as much as grains.

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