I‘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…
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.
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
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.
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.
ps. Want all the juicy details?
Here’s exactly what I ate over the whole month…
My Paleo Month Food Diary
W 2 SEPT
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. Apple, nut milk flat white (coffee)
L. Roast rhubarb with coconut yoghurt, psyllium, chia & linseeds
D. Naked burgers with celeriac ‘slaw
B. Poached quince with coconut yoghurt, psyllium, chia & linseeds & ABC butter
L. @ Hotel Hotel
Raw & pickled veg with anchovy, garlic dip
Beef short ribs
Strawberry & pineapple sorbet (did have sugar)
D. Chorizo, sauerkraut & macadamia ‘ricotta’
(My birthday >> Paleo leave pass)
B. Porridge w Roast Rhubarb & Cream
L. @ Temporada
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 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’
B. Bacon, eggs, black pudding & shaved Brussels sprouts salad
L. Roast pear & almond cake
D. Chicken caticcore with zucchini noodles, sauerkraut & fermented onions
B. Berry, quince, chia + coconut milk smoothie
L. Veggie chips
D. Naked burgers + fermented turnip
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
D. Black pudding with grilled asparagus & hollandaise