My 3 Biggest Lessons from Paleo Month

Macadamia 'Ricotta'-2

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] I[/dropcap]’m not someone who seeks out controversy. But occasionally, it tracks me down.

Especially when I write about different diets or ways of eating.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised that when I mentioned I was going ‘full paleo’ for a month, there was some, shall we call it ‘feedback’ about ‘endorsing’ such a ‘dangerous fad diet’.

To be clear, as a food scientist with a keen interest in how food changes the way we feel, look and age, I don’t see it as my job to tell you what you ‘should’ and ‘should not’ eat.

I do see my job as helping you make healthy cooking as simple as possible. Thus the whole 5-ingredients, real food focus. And all the ‘variations’ at the bottom of my recipes.

But I also see it as my job to share what I’m experimenting with in my own diet. Because if something helps me, maybe it will help you too?

Of course I can’t tell you what will work. You have to figure out that bit on your own :)

Still with me? Good!

I’m glad we had this chat…

Why Paleo?

A few people emailed asking why I decided to have paleo month?

If you were wondering, the theory behind the paleo diet is that paleolithic man (ie the hunter / gatherers) were taller and had less evidence of disease than the neolithic people (the first farmers) who came after them.

So the ‘paleo’ theory goes that the addition of grain and dairy products into our diets caused some problems.

I explain more in the first post I wrote about eating paleo back in 2010.

My 3 Biggest Lessons from Paleo Month

1. I ate more veg.
This was super noticeable the first week. We started with the same amount of veg I normally buy and they disappeared much quicker than normal.

I LOVE my veggies and I know they’re super important for good health. So I was very happy with this change.

2. I learned I don’t have sensitivity to dairy.
As a big cheese lover, I was very relieved on this front.

When I did introduce dairy, I added cheese back in a few days before drinking a glass of milk. Just in case that made a difference.

Result? All clear as far as I can tell. Bring on the parmesan!

3. I discovered ‘restriction’ can open up possibilities.
I had been meaning to experiment with dairy-free alternatives like cashew cheese and coconut yoghurt for ages. But when I was eating dairy, I just never got around to it.

My month of eating full paleo, gave me the ‘kick’ I needed to explore both these options and more.

The restriction also gave me a reason to get reacquainted with some ingredients I hadn’t used in ages like coconut flour and nutritional yeast.

I also figured out a cheat way to make nut milk when I’d run out one morning…

Just pop a couple of tablespoons nut butter (I used cashew one time and a mixture of almond, brazil and cashew another time) in a jar. Add a cup of water. Put the lid on and shake (or use your stick blender to whizz). Not the same as soaking and grinding your own nuts but pretty close.

And a whole lot tastier than commercial nut milks (which tend to contain only 2% nuts!).

Where to from here?

I’m going back to eating what I call ‘mostly paleo’. Which means I include dairy and legumes but pretty much avoid grains.

The change is I am planning on being more ‘mindful’ or sparing with my legume intake. Because basically when I eat legumes it’s at the expense of more vegetables. And overall I think there are more benefits from the extra fresh veg.

I’m also going to go easy on things like buckwheat and quinoa for the same reason.

And for October?

I’m having ‘exercise-every-day’ month. Just getting back into walking for 20 minutes or more every day.

And so far… loving it!

What about you?

Ever tried going paleo? Or any other ‘crazy’ dietary restrictions? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.


Macadamia 'Ricotta'

Macadamia ‘Ricotta’

I’ll be honest. If given the choice between a full cream cows milk ricotta and this nut ‘cheese’, I’m taking the real dairy version every time. But when soft cheese is off the table (hello pregnancy!), I’m very glad to have this as an alternative.

The first time I made this it was a bit ‘grainy’ but after getting my food processor blade sharpened, the second batch was much more creamy and lovely.

makes about a cup
takes 15 minutes + soaking time

200g (7oz) macadamias
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt

1. Place macadamias in a ceramic or glass bowl or jug and cover generously with water – about 2 cups but no need to measure.

2. Soak nuts for at least 6 hours (and less than 48).

3. Drain, discarding soaking water. Place nuts in a food processor. Add lemon juice, a good pinch of sea salt flakes and 1/2 cup water and whizz until as smooth as you can get it. Scraping down the sides a few times.

4. Taste and add more salt and/or lemon as needed.

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different nuts – best to use raw (unroasted) nuts. Cashews are good but you could also use almonds. I probably wouldn’t try pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts because the flavour would be a bit weird. If money is no object, pinenuts are another possibility. 

sweet cream – skip the lemon juice and add a little of your favourite sweetener such as maple syrup, honey or stevia.

extra ‘cheesey’ – add a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast.

thicker – add less water to the food processor.

more runny / thinner – add more water. Once refrigerated, it does thicken up a little.

macadamia ‘yoghurt’ – add an extra tablespoon or two of lemon juice and the powder from 2 probiotic capsules. Stand at room temp to help the culture ferment for 8-12 hours before refrigerating.

nut-free – use regular ricotta! Or you could try sunflower seeds… not sure how they’ll go but worth a shot.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Want all the juicy details?

Here’s exactly what I ate over the whole month…

My Paleo Month Food Diary

B. Fried eggs with kale + mayo
Coconut yoghurt with psyllium, chia + linseed
L. Salmon + iceberg salad
D. Chicken caccitore w/ cauli rice

b. Poached eggs with cauli rice, sauerkraut, mayo + chia + linseed
l. @Paleo cafe in Lonsdale St
Meatball & sweet potato noodle soup
d. Shepherds pie (w Cauli & coconut oil topping) + rocket & radicchio salad

B. Fried eggs with Cauli rice, Mayo, linseeds & psyllium
L. Leftover shepherds pie
Black olives
D. Warm mushroom & almond salad

B. Coconut yoghurt w paleo ‘cereal’ & raspberries
L. Chicken salad with mayo
D. Pan fried fish w chipotle mayo & salad

B. Apple, nut milk flat white (coffee)
L. Roast rhubarb with coconut yoghurt, psyllium, chia & linseeds
D. Naked burgers with celeriac ‘slaw
Raw brownies

B. Poached quince with coconut yoghurt, psyllium, chia & linseeds & ABC butter
L. @ Hotel Hotel
Raw & pickled veg with anchovy, garlic dip
Pork belly
Beef short ribs
Strawberry & pineapple sorbet (did have sugar)
D. Chorizo, sauerkraut & macadamia ‘ricotta’

B. Fried eggs + baby spinach + mayo
L. Paleo toast with ‘macadamia ricotta + almond butter
D. Addictive lemony kale

(My birthday >> Paleo leave pass)
B. Porridge w Roast Rhubarb & Cream
L. @ Temporada
Stuffed peppers
Waygu Beef with mushroom & onion
Ricotta Gnudi with Nettles
D. 3 x hard cheeses, Olives, Walnut sourdough, Shaved fennel & olive oil
Carrot cake & maple cream cheese frosting

B. Fried eggs & lemony kale + mayo
L. Salmon & broccoli ‘rice’ salad
D. Herby green chicken w broccoli ‘Rice’

B. Fried eggs with broccoli ‘rice’ & aioli
L. Grilled lamb with shaved zucchini salad & white bean puree (not Paleo but at a cafe and the closest option that was also pregnant lady friendly!)
D. Grilled asparagus with Macadamia ‘Ricotta’
Raw brownie

B. Coconut Yoghurt with Chia, Linseeds, & Raspberries
L. Roast trout with Almonds & Green Salad
D. Curried Lamb Chops w Charred Broccolini & Almond Sauce
Raw Brownies

B. Paleo French toast with Quince & Coconut Yoghurt
L. Coconut yoghurt w psyllium & chia
D. Coffee Rub Steak with Aioli, Cold oil fries & green salad.

B. Bacon, eggs, black pudding & shaved Brussels sprouts salad
L. Roast pear & almond cake
D. Chicken caticcore with zucchini noodles, sauerkraut & fermented onions

B. Fried eggs with shaved brussels spouts + mayo
L. Avocado + lime on paleo toast + ‘slaw
D. Stuffed sweet potatoes with beef & tahini + baby spinach

B. Fried eggs + lemony kale + mayo
L. Asian beef + zucchini noodles
D. Paleo shepherds pie + green salad

B. Fried eggs + lemony kale + mayo
L. @ Parlour Wine Room
Smoked almonds,
Beet, kholrabi + jerusalem artichoke salad
D. Chicken satay curry with cauliflower ‘rice’

B. Fried eggs + cauli rice + mayo
L. Tuna mayo salad
D. Sardines with broccoli

B. Coconut yoghurt, blueberries, paleo ‘cereal’, psyllium, chia + linseeds
L. Cajun chicken + ‘slaw
D. Beef + broccoli ‘couscous’

B. Berry, quince, chia + coconut milk smoothie
L. Veggie chips
D. Naked burgers + fermented turnip

B. Poached eggs, green salad, avocado on paleo toast + bacon
L. Cashew cheese, paleo bread, olives, pear, veggie chips
D. Pulled pork with apple slaw + iceberg lettuce leaves

B. Poached eggs w slow cooked broccoli & mayo
L. Sardine, baby spinach + cashew cheese salad
D. Cajun chicken + ‘slaw

B. Fried eggs with broccoli raab + mayo
L. Cashew cheese, avocado + ‘slaw.
D. Moroccan meatloaf tajine + cauli couscous + sauerkraut

B. Fried eggs w Cauli rice & Mayo
L. Sardines on paleo toast + salad
D. Addictive Roast Brussels Sprouts + Sausages

B. Fried eggs with slow cooked broccoli + mayo
L. @ Paleo Cafe Kingston Foreshore
cashew frittata,
kale chips,
D. Roast whole bream with peppers & baby spinach

B. Paleo cereal w coconut yoghurt & blueberries
L. Paleo shepherds pie w broccoli raab
D. Pulled pork stuffed sweet potato w cashew sour cream & iceberg lettuce salad
Dark chocolate (90% cocoa solids)

B. Baked Rhubarb w Cashew Cream & Chia & Psyllium
L. @ Bendooley Estate, Berrima.
Rack of lamb with pea puree & spuds
Green salad
D. Black pudding with grilled asparagus & hollandaise

B. Poached eggs with potato rosti, hollandaise + green salad.
L. Peanut butter ‘bread’
D. Brisket + Guinness (not paleo!), roast jerusalem artichokes, wilted broccoli raab

B. Poached eggs with broad beans, avocado + mint
L. Snack of raw almonds and peanut butter
D. BBQ chicken wings + ‘slaw

B. Fried eggs with sauerkraut, baby kale + hollandaise
L. Avocado + lime on paleo toast + green salad
D. Sardines with broccoli raab

B. Paleo cereal, roast rhubarb + cashew yoghurt
L. @Grill’d Healthy Burgers
Grilled chicken & avocado salad
D. Bacon sang choi bau


  • I’m interested to know… Are you choosing to now avoid grains because of the scientific evidence supporting avoidance or did you find it beneficial to your health during the experiment and now choose to continue? If so, what benefits did you find?

  • I did almost six months of no gluten and no sugar. It was suggested by one of my doctors hoping to find a reason for severe chronic headaches. The first month, I felt better than I’d ever felt, had more energy, etc and lost 8 pounds. Then things went downhill. I gained back the weight (and a few more) and didn’t have the energy, etc. Don’t know why that happened. Plus, it didn’t help my headaches at all. :-/

  • My wife and I did a Whole 30 (a stricter formof paleo). I lost 10 lbs even though I was already in the best shape of my life. Now, I was working out 3x per week and playing volleyball 2-3x too. So I probably lost some calories once I cut out all the grains and converted to veggies.

    My outcomes: I found out I’m sensitive to milk but not ice cream or cheese. Additionally, I realized I don’t mind eating the same thing every day. My wife needs variety though!

  • Thank you for this update. I too have greatly reduced and at times eliminated grains. My digestive system is so much happier when I eat more vegetables and meat. Wheat especially knocks me off and causes all kinds of digestive distress. It’s good to experiment and find out what makes you feel better. Our bodies are not all the same.

  • Would you mind commenting on snacks jules or did you not eat them? I would find I would get so hungry especially without grains.

  • Hi
    I am a bit Palio, I like making sourdough bread. With legumes also in the diet. And average meat, like beef,, or Lamb, chicken, fish. Varied meals. A nice digestive biscuit, or an occasional chocolate from Aldi. I bake bread for the Sisters at my church. Some dairy, love Costa Rican coffee. I have walked long distances, letter box delivery, usually,an hour each day. I am 73, do not drink alcohol or smoke, very happy in the lord, Quentin from Bribie Island.

  • Hi Jules
    Just wondering what oil you used to make Mayo while going paleo. I noticed the recipe you linked to calls for peanut/ vegetable oils so just wondered what you substituted them for.

  • hi Jules (I love your blog xoxo)
    i’ve been reading your blog since 2011 (newly married) and have tried incorporating your healthy recipes into my life. Not being paleo or vegetarian or on any diet I just wished to be healthy and my husband and I loved it. I come from a traditional background of cape malay/indian cooking so everything I grew up is packed with flavors and herbs.
    2 kids later I am twice the size I used to be. my first pregnancy derailed my body and I picked up so much weight ‘eating for two’. it has been 9 months since my second baby and I am now ready to take responsibility and get my body back, or atleast lose a few pounds so that I can get up from the floor after playing with my toddler without grabbing onto something for dear life.
    i’ve read about paleo in your emails but the name was all I knew. I just thought it was something drastic so I wasn’t tempted to try. So I finally started paleo lastweek and so far I have lost 1 kg (in 1 week). I wake up without my alarm, I do feel I have more energy, I only eat when I am hungry. I decided to have a cheat day on Saturday and I didn’t even feel the need to, but nevertheless I did. I love baking and I think that’s gonna be a huge adjustment for me as paleo muffins aren’t the same as the stuff we’re used to…. but definitely healthier.
    my main reason for wanting to go paleo is to teach my kids healthy habits. my son of 2 used to love his veg and all things healthy when he was an infant and now he refuses anything healthy and reaches for pasta/bread/peanut butter. he usually picks the meat out of the food. I am really struggling to get him to eat any veg. so now SLOWLY i’m phasing out processed things in the house.
    another concern is that we are a full house and it’s not very economical for all of us to to go paleo, which is why we are used to having rice and vegetable stews as every day foods, as they make the meat last longer.
    I do wish to continue paleo as long as I can…. and I will be having legumes and dairy after 30 days. I think as long as we stay away from processed foods then we should be on the right track. I am a law researcher and in my spare time I’ve been researching food (as that is all I think about) and I am so shocked at how all these processed crappy foods are marketed so wonderfully and TRICKING us into believing there is something good in it. And they make all these foods so easily available and cheap so that it’s easier and convenient to buy than real food.
    now about the picky toddler thing, is there anything you can advise?

    • Jules writes another blog called the yellow bench which is all about kids food, there are some good recipes and ideas for picky eaters.
      Good luck with your weight loss.

      • Thanks Jemma… I’ve actually stopped writing the yellow bench as I just didn’t have the time to keep up 2 blogs :)

  • In the way of crazy diets the two things I’ve tried were 1) being vegan, which for me equalled starvation – I was not getting enough protein that way; and 2) a very low-carb diet – not Atkins – which worked very well for me until I got into the real world where I was around other people who were eating fast carbs (grains, potatoes, etc.) and couldn’t get food that matched my diet. I have considered paleo, but not seriously, because there are too many things I like that are omitted from that diet, and also because I have a ‘standard issue’ husband to feed. After everything I’ve tried over a long lifetime, I have concluded that balance is best. Eating all types of foods, as long as I’m not reacting badly to them, is going to give me the most variety of nutrients. I’m sure that some of the meals I fix would qualify as paleo, but that happens because I like a dish or combination of foods. I do not believe it is healthy to restrict intake of some foods without having a good medical reason for it. At the same time I also believe that it’s important to get as many veggies into our diets as we can.

  • i follow paleo with rice.occasionally might eat a breadroll.the simple rule is keep it fresh as possible..thats the key to good don’t have to go over the top unless your eradicating for health reasons.
    excercising is equally important.recently did a month of no alcohol.i certainly felt better for less is more.i think you have to develop your core approach.finding the balance that works with a busy lifestyle, prolly the hardest thing and maintaining it over time,is the aim.

  • I’ve never tried full-on paleo, but for sure my diet has headed more in that direction over the last couple of years. Especially since I had my second baby, at 42. It’s never been easy for me to lose weight. I gained 50 lbs with the second baby (I was older, and stressed, not sleeping, my mother died). And it just would not come off.

    Part of the issue is that I’d dabbled in vegetarianism – meaning for quite a few years, we ate mostly vegetarian – very little meat – a fair bit of pasta and beans and rice. Some of this coincided with me being overweight and a lot of it coincided with me doing a lot of cardio – I was training for half marathons, etc. Well, let’s just say my body isn’t made for that kind of exercise and I got injury after injury.

    I finally came upon the “21 Day Fix” eating plan, which is a color-coded, balanced eating plan. The hard thing for me is that the “yellow” container is carbs, and I only get two per day. I was very resistant to the idea, because of years of listening to the USDA tell me that I should be eating 6 servings of grain per day. The “yellow” container includes grains, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas. Well, eventually I read a book by Luise Light where she shared that the food pyramid released was not the one her team wrote, which recommended 0-2 servings of grain per day, whole grains only. For most women, 1-2. (For health and weight control.) It clicked right there!

    In order to “figure it all out”, I had to try carb cycling. Because honestly, I was used to cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta or beans & rice for dinner. I got used to planning meals without grain/ bean/carb.

    I was losing a steady 2 lbs a month. Then last November, I did a “NOvember” challenge of my own invention. I stuck to the plan, but eliminated alcohol, wheat, sugar, fried foods. Therefore my yellows were only oats, beans, corn, rice, potatoes. I also did a burpee challenge, starting the month at 5 and ending at 100 (per day). I lost SEVEN POUNDS that month. So I’m thinking of repeating my “NOvember”.

    What I like about stonesoup is that you haven’t eliminated dairy or beans. As I’ve been able to maintain my 25-27 lbs weight loss (but not lose the last 5), I’ve started to experiment with swapping a bean for a protein. The traditional proteins in this plan are meat, eggs, fish, cottage cheese, yogurt. Beans are technically a carb. Sometimes I buck the trend and use beans as my protein.

    One thing I did learn though – earlier this year I’d gotten into a groove with a protein/fruit smoothie for breakfast, protein and veg for snack, salad with protein for lunch, fruit and nuts for snack, and dinner with protein, a carb, and a veg. At random, fresh tomato season started, so I started having a slice of toast with tomato for breakfast. My energy and focus at work went WAY UP after that. A startling change. For months I thought the doldrums were due to a crappy workplace (and for sure, that was part of it). If I do “NOvember” again, I’ll have to have oats for breakfast. Or potatoes?

  • I appreciate your insight into the value of certain food groups and preparation of same. I am on my own so a lot of the recipes are not suited to a single eater, even though when I do cook I usually cook for 4 and freeze meals. I follow the fodmap regime of eating and I do not eat meat although I do eat fish and chicken (not often). I am 70 years old and therefore reasonably marginalised when it comes to good advice on food.

    • Thx for sharing Carolyn..
      I usually make my recipes for 2 serves so they’re easy to halve if you only want enough for 1! Jx

  • I agree we need to explore all different foods. But I can never eat meat as I dislike it and I adore animals. I keep to my perfect weight by eating in moderation. I only eat a small amount of wheat, I but sourdough bread from a small baker all organic. I never eat crisps/chips or drink any soft drinks. Cook nearly all of our meals and never use salt in cooking just herbs and spices.

  • I am trying as much as possible to go Paleo, it doesn’t always work in, but that is the goal, I am seeing more products in the Supermarket as being marketed as Paleo, I think it may be the way of the future.

  • I have made small changes over the last 2 years. I stopped taking vitamins and protein powders. I cut out Soy milk and went back to dairy foods. Made meals to 1/2 a plate of veg, 1/4 plate protein and 1/4 plate carbohydrates. Added fruit to breakfast and I still eat grains just less. Just by doing this has increased my veggies and fruit intake and like you I need a second visit to the Fruit and veg shop some weeks. Also I decided not to be influenced by the latest new food trends and to stick to the basics. I prefer spinach not Kale and I like to eat almonds and have a glass of water then almond milk. I also increased my exercise and my nails are the best they have ever been so for me I think I am on the right track.
    I do love reading about your journey with food and get lots of ideas to add to my meals. Everyone is different and we all have different tastes. You keep me inspired.

  • Hi, I’m curious if you lost any weight from this dietary regimen and by how many pounds (imperial)?


    • I didn’t weigh myself Sohn because I’m pregnant at the moment and there’s only one direction the scales are heading regardless of what I eat…

  • It is so interesting reading all the comments! I also eat sort of Paleo. We have 5 sons & when the middle one ended up needing to have a tooth pulled (age 13) we found the book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. (I think that’s his name). He said to cure rotting teeth, yes, build back enamel, cut out grains, seeds, nuts, beans and processed sugars. Wow! That took a lot out of our diet! We were already doing a year long sugar fast at the time but we liked our breads and pasta. Oh my. We went for it though. We did keep dairy as we have a milk cow and grass fed dairy is excellent for building teeth. And I learned “ancient” methods of preparing grains and legumes to reduce the phytic acid that our bodies have a hard time dealing with. I had a long struggle with bloating and gas prior to this and when we cut out grains my problem disappeared overnight. So our diet includes beans soaked at least 24 hours prior to cooking. I have decided to have a baked oatmeal, granola or some wheat free cereal on Sun morn as a treat and a”restful” dish. (Cook as little as possible on Sunday.) But oats are the worst for phytic acid because of how they are treated. I did a lot of research and although wheat is not bad for you per se, yet the methods of raising and storing the grain have made it bad for us. Sad. Wheat growers admit that they spray their crops with Round Up prior to harvest. Then the berries are sprayed with chemicals to preserve them. This is in the USA. I’ve heard say other countries don’t have our wheat problems. I wasn’t a really heavy person but I did lose 20 lbs through it all and have felt better than I have in years. Am soon 43 years old. Not as many headaches, more energy, NO itching from yeast problems (miracle!) and I think my hair is improving. Why would I want to go back to grains? But most of my “men” don’t hesitate to eat sugar and grain when we’re out and about and it’s set before them.

  • This is interesting – I have been tempted to try Paleo or Whole 30 but I don’t like the idea of eating so much meat all the time, I have been cutting back on meat consumption overall. So am worried about sufficient protein intake in absence of legumes and dairy – not sure how to get around it :-(
    Also, I am not convinced about the whole rationale behind Paleo – I doubt cavemen ate bacon, coconut yoghurt or ‘paleo’ muffins while I can’t see what’s wrong with perfectly natural produce such as legumes…

    • I’m with you on legumes and dairy Eva!
      In my experience the biggest benefits from going Paleo come from avoiding processed food and grains (especially wheat) so I’d go with mostly paleo and keep your legumes there!

  • I have a question about avoiding ricotta while pregnant. I’ve heard to avoid soft cheeses, but ricotta is a cooked cheese. It seems the danger of bacterial contamination would be gone. I’m so glad I had my children before there were all these dietary restrictions!

    • Ricotta could still get contaminated after being made Sally… And the high moisture content means listeria would be able to grow… It’s a small risk but it is there…


  • I do enjoy reading about your different dietary/eating styles. My husband, aged 75, follows a Banting diet so I make bread with flax, ground almonds etc. He has been so fit and well since moving to this lifestyle. I, aged 71, am not able to follow the Banting style as I cannot tolerate too much fat and the Paleo eating plan has far too much protein for me but it is interesting to read the different ideas. We have always been healthy eating conscious so it is a pity that we did not adopt one of these healthier eating styles when we were younger. Ignore all adverse comments – keep posting the recipes.

  • Jules, I prefer the balanced every-type-of-food type of meal, including some carbs and sugar. Some friends who went 100% paleo two years ago have become gluten-resistant….they weren’t before!

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