Category Archives: Food & Recipies

If you don’t eat bread and pasta, what do you eat?

I’ve lost count of the people that have asked my how I lost so much weight, in fact it got so much that t I made a standard email that I send out to people with the general guidelines and pointers to further reading. Like most Paleo folks the strongest reaction I get is when you tell people that you don’t eat bread or, even worse than that, no grains at all; people just can’t get their heads around that at all and really do ask “What do you eat then?”.

In an attempt to answer that question I will post a week of everything I scoff. This will be a long post as I’ll put photos of as much as I can…

Sunday 20th January

9:30 four espresso’s – that’s Delhaize Columbian Fairtrade beans – less than half the price of Illy and tasting almost as good 4500iu Vitamin D

Espresso

11:30 Bacon & Eggs with some HP Sauce (yes I know this really isn’t Paleo, but it’s a tiny amount I eat once per week) Vitamins (krill oil, iodine, copper, vitamin c, vitamin B complex, vitamin K2)

Bacon&Eggs

 

12:00 – 14:45 Three more espresso’s – now I do the weekly cook-up…

Stalled weight loss?

Weight loss was my primary driver when I started the Atkins Diet, but after moving beyond that to a Paleo approach it took on a secondary importance behind other health improvements. Nevertheless it’s still on my agenda and one of the key indicators of forward progress or at least up to the point where I hit my target of 82.5 kilos.

With all this in mind I’ve been a bit concerned that things seemed to have ground to a halt in the last couple of weeks, with the weight pinging up and down between 84 and 85 kilos, seemingly dependant on either hydration levels or the last time I’ve had a crap:

In fact this last point has been quite a problem the last week as I’ve been quite bunged-up which I’ve been trying to understand. Firstly I don’t think I’ve been eating enough veggies, so my general fibre levels are too low. Second reason can be magnesium deficiency, so I’ve started supplementing this and as of Thursday I’ve been taking 900mg per day – and voilà, this seems to have done the trick as the gates have been open over the weekend and I’m feeling a lot better and have lost that pesky kilo again.

Other factor playing here must be increased muscle mass counteracting the fat decrease. I’m absolutely certain that the fat is still dropping off as my trousers are getting looser almost daily – the jeans I bought a month or so ago that were a bit tight in the store now need the belt to keep them up (for once the “I’m losing weight so I’ll buy them slightly small” seems to have worked! I’m also doing body-weight exercises a couple of times per week as well as sprinting from time to time and the extra muscle on my shoulders, biceps and pectorals is quite marked.

I’m also suspecting though that I’ve been eating too much carbohydrate. Eating some white rice or boiled potato is part of my daily food plan as recommended by the Perfect Health Diet that I’m broadly following. However, I suspect that the 400 – 600 calories recommended I think it could be more like 800 – 1000. So I’ll keep an eye on that and up my veggies.

All this being said, I physically feel very good right now – mentally less so though, I’m certainly not getting enough sleep (average 6 and a half hours per night), and work has been quite demanding in recent weeks. Fair to say in fact that I have been totally exhausted from time to time. I’m not going to show any pictures, but I’m looking a lot better without my clothes on too – body fat is dramatically less, even if the reading on the scales doesn’t show much change.

I’ve just finished reading It Starts With Food – this book began a bit slow and dumbed-down in my opinion, but improved dramatically as I went through it; an a quite staggering 241/252 5-star reviews on Amazon. Now I’ve started on Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint and that’ll be me through the backbone of the Paleo literature. I’ll be making a comparative book review once I’m done.

And for the food I’m eating? Well I’ve dropped the smoothies for breakfast and am now eating pretty much the same as I would for lunch or dinner. It’s a bit weird at first, but you get used to it. Here’s a selection of recent meals:

So here’s something I concocted for Charlotte. Chicken, onions, mushrooms, garlic, coriander, coconut oil. What makes this a little different is the spices that I put on the chicken: ground coffee beans, cocoa powder, garlic and onion powder, vanilla, cloves, ginger, four-spices, salt and pepper. Tastes pretty good I think.

A nice steak is my usual treat on fasting days (so Monday and Tuesday). The cut I’ve found I like the most is called “pelé royale” in French. I’ve no idea what it’s called in English, but the meat has quite a coarse grain.

This was this morning’s breakfast: rice (with extra virgin coconut oil, red palm oil, tamari soy sauce), spinach (mixed into the rice), scrambled eggs, wild-caught smoked salmon (yes it really is very red in colour and quite tough compared to aquaculture reared fish) and some smoked tilapa that they had reduced in the supermarket, so I bought it to try and it was really quite pleasant (and not at all expensive).

Yesterday’s breakfast – more of that salmon and rice, this time with some leftover cabbage, avocado and a drizzle of avocado oil.

Friday’s breakfast: rice (the usual), scrambled eggs and cabbage with avocado oil. This was a bit insipid if I’m honest, but nutritionally it hit the spot.

More Food

For breakfast I tried something a little different with my smoothie as I’ve been wanting to get myself off soy milk for some time now. Despite having grown to like it very much  it’s stuffed full of lectins which is quite toxic to humans and also contains quite high levels of oestrogen, despite what the soy producers would like to you believe… (just Google and you’ll find a wealth of info, here’s one link in case you’re too lazy to do that) Now I think my man-boobs are quite big enough, thank you very much, so time for change. I had tried some various alternatives in coconut and almond milk, both pre-packaged like the soy, pasteurised and unfortunately with added sugar; regardless of that the taste of both made me want to vomit. My friend and work colleague, Ramona, has recently bought a Vitamix blender and she made her own almond mil, so I though I’d try too.

I soaked 50g of almonds overnight in 300ml of water, then threw this in the blender this morning with a handful of frozen forest fruits, handful of fresh blueberries, 35g of pure whey protein, 10g each of olive, avocado and linseed oil. Pulsed for 30 seconds, then on full blend for about 2 minutes. Now my blender isn’t as good as a Vitamix and it’s not a crappy one neither, but the whole thing was still a bit gritty with nit bit. Regardless of that it was way better than using the bought stuff with an overriding sensation like marzipan – if anything a little too strong, perhaps 30g of almonds would be enough in future.

Sorry to say that I didn’t take a photo, will make the same tomorrow and take a picture.

For lunch I cobbled together the left-overs from some nice steak I had for dinner yesterday: fired up some onions in olive oil, added some chopped mushrooms, once cooked added the steak diced, stir for a few minutes, added three teaspoons of tomato puree concentrate and some dried basil.

Vegetables are even easier: half a leek, half a courgette, handful of cauliflower. I boil/steam the cauliflower and leek first, then add the courgette after about 4 minutes just for two minutes more, that was the courgette doesn’t disintegrate into poo-slime. Drain the water into a glass to drink later add some good oils and a pinch of salt & pepper (normally I’d use a bit of soy sauce, but I noticed all my soy sauces have flour in then, so they’re going in the bin and I need to get some more. Note that soy sauce doesn’t have the same lectin issue as soy milk as it’s fermented and the fermenting process removes most of the lectins). Smash the veggies with a potato masher.

I put the rocquette on top as an afterthought so that anyone seeing it would think I was a chef, or posh…

For dessert it’s a couple of organic plums and an organic nectarine, which are in season right now. Note that most of the food I buy is organic. I know there’s a raging debate about whether it’s really that much better in nutrients or not. Personally I prefer to err on the side of caution, but it goes deeper than that. Organically farmed food is kinder for the environment and more importantly for me the standards of animal husbandry are much higher. So regardless of the debate I’ll keep buying it. It’s not even that much more expensive, I buy all our meat for instance from a small organic, Marché Vert, shop here in Uccle and it’s cheaper than the meat in the Delhaize supermarket next door (and far, far superior). Their bio (as organic is called in French) cucumbers are less than half the price of the ones in the supermarket too. It pays to shop around a little.

Now this isn’t organic, but it is fresh – a trio of lettuces sold live with roots and soil, 59 cents  twice the quantity of pre-packaged, a quarter of the price and fresher. Bargain!!

And yes, it’s all paleo (more on that soon)

Update 29th August: here’s a photo of that smoothie I promised

Intermittent Fasting Week 2

After last week’s first fasting effort, it was time to go for it again. Experience is a wonderful ally so I adapted a little to try and mitigate the negatives, mostly feeling so tired in the evenings. The logical solution of course was to shift the single daily meal from breakfast to the evening, that also opened the door for a better quality meal with the time-constraints of getting to work removed, here’s what I ate the two days:

Monday: Fried (olive oil) chicken breast (rubbed with garlic and onion powder, cinnamon & four-spice), half a cauliflower – drizzled with olive oil and linseed oil, home-made salsa & guacamole

Tuesday: Two beef and one chicken brochette – which I couldn’t finish, plus the other half of the cauliflower with the salsa and guacamole

With some linseeds and psyllium husks during the day to try and keep the intestines moving along… I chose cauliflower for many reasons: it’s low in calories so you can eat a lot and fill yourself up, it’s highly nutritious being packed with vitamins and minerals, we had a spare one in the fridge and I just love it; just be sure not to overcook or it turns to a farty mush, I find 6 – 7 minutes is enough. I don’t have a steamer so I cook with a small amount of water which I pour into a cup before serving and dink afterwards with a drop of olive oil, salt and pepper – it’s a delicious drink and ensures you get all the of vitamins.

What can I say, this fast was night and day different from the first time! Whether this was due to being able to anticipate the situation, the change of meal timing or the change of meal composition I don’t know, but I felt great for the two days. I was actually quite reluctant to eat and suffered no loss of energy at all – it was really liberating. And you wouldn’t believe the time you save when you don’t have to prepare or eat food!!

It’s a positive response on the scale too, with 1 kg lost on Tuesday morning compared to the week before (which was already 1 kg less than the previous week). Bear in mind that I’m eating as much as I can every meal during the week, I’m not craving for anything, I’m rarely hungry, I’ve energy enough for some short but intense workouts (more on that another time), so I believe I losing fat and gaining muscle as we go along.

Only downside is that I didn’t take a decent crap for three days (despite the countermeasures), but that’s back to normal again today. Here’s the weight progress:

Maybe I’m weird, but I’m looking forward to next week’s fast already :)

Eating Out on Paleo

It’s hard, but not impossible to eat paleo when you’re at a restaurant. We were in Domburg, Holland, for the day and I still managed to get some highly nutritious, healthy foods. Firstly for lunch, some fish with some veggies. This also came with fries and some kind of sauce. Normally these sauces are made with flour, so I asked them to provide it separately and I requested that the fries were replaced with an extra serving of vegetables. I’m not convinced they did give the extra veggies, but it was sufficient as it was and kept me going until dinner.

Then for dinner we ate at our favourite restaurant in the town: De Bommelje, good food, very friendly staff and all organic too! And they do bring extra vegetables too when requested as well as some very good olive oil to drench over the veggies.

I pigged-out with a started of smoked salmon with mango & salad, a main of lamb with rosemary and two extra vegetable portions and two bowls of fruit for dessert. A lot of food I guess, but it had been a very active day with the kids, so I was pretty hungry.

Apparently it’s: gemarineerd in Zeeuws gerookte thee, gerookt zeezout, mango met rode pepers en krokante peterseliewortel

And the main: Proeverijtje van lam met geroosterde zoete aardappel, groene groenten en rozemarijnjus

So it is possible to eat well while you’re out and about:

  • Keep it simple: steak; fish, veggies, salad
  • Avoid overly prepared dishes as they can hide all sorts of ingredients
  • Ask for sauces to be given separately and salads to be undressed
  • Request extra veggies or salad

and despite this huge feast I found myself 87.9 kgs this morning :)

What’s for Dinner?

Well I was home a little late from work and I wanted to do some exercise before I ate – so time was a but limited. Nevertheless I managed to throw this together:

  • 6 organic chicken wings – these are delicious beyond belief and I eat pretty much everything except the bones and gristle. They’re so easy to cook that even an idiot like me can do it: coat in olive oil, salt, pepper and dried basil, put in a tray in the middle of the oven 185°C for 1 hour, turning after 30 minutes. The skin’s cripsy and the meat soft, bloody super-yum! And not expensive either – around €3 for the packet from Delhaize – bio too!! No excuses…
  • Then there’s a salad of course. I love salads and I ate them pretty much daily even when I wasn’t doing this low carb thing. This one isn’t especially fancy though, but it is BIG and it does contain a whole avocado. I feel salads without avocado are like sex with a condom – it’s nice, you want it, but it could be much, much better. For the rest it’s LOTS of leaves and roquette, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, red pepper, olive oil – balsamic – salt & pepper
  • Then there’s dessert – that’s a handful of blueberries, almonds and pistachios, with a very few salted peanuts as a treat – didn’t really enjoy those, they tasted synthetic, will avoid in future
  • And last, but perhaps not least, I had a spoon of high EPA/DHA fish-oil that I bought on the way home – I’ll write about the importance of that another time

30 minutes before the meal I had 6 teaspoons of psyllium husk in water with a little lime juice. This stuff keep things moving along nicely inside, will also cover that at some point.

Now to bed…

 

 

Lunchtime at the Office

OK, we laugh and joke here about the poor quality of the food at the European Commission employee restaurants, but to be honest we are far luckier than many office workers who’s only choice in their bought lunch is the filling of the sandwich. So whereas most of the meals offered here are not really suitable – potatoes, rice, breadcrumb coatings, sauces made with wheat etc. it is possible to construct something that fits both a low-carb and paleo diet.

More often than not I tend to head to the grill where they have steaks, chicken and fish, if it’s doesn’t look too toxic then I go for the fish every time. OK, I have to admit that two years ago I had incredibly bad food poisoning from EC restaurant fish, I was bed/toilet-ridden for two days and couldn’t keep food in my system properly for nearly two months, but on the positive side I did lose 6 kgs :-)

Here’s today’s “best effort” – even with a bit of photo enhancement it still looks rather unappealing:

So that side-plate is roasted aubergines, mushrooms and courgettes with olive oil and balsamic. In fact I had to leave the courgettes as they were coated with some kind of slime that I couldn’t identify a) I think it was sugar and wheat based, b) it was totally disgusting!

The main dish is colin fish – also amusingly called “pollock” in the UK. It’s high in vitamin B12 & selenium as well as providing all essential amino acids and a decent amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. The rest was haricot beans, mixed veg and mixed salad.

Not the highest quality food by a long way, but way better than the average get to eat, so I’m pretty satisfied with that.

What does always make me laugh though, every day, is the look on the face of the restaurant staff when I don’t have any rice, potatoes or fries with it. They clearly think I’m insane, mind you, who’s to say they’re wrong?

Dinner Time

A lot of my friends and my dear wife often say “If you can’t eat bread, pasta, oats, sugar, potatoes and dairy, what’s left?” (well they don’t say that, but you catch the drift…); plenty actually. Sure there’s a lot of fish and meat, veggies and salads, nuts and seeds, berries and fruits, but really the choice amongst all these and the many ways they can be combined and prepared make for really delicious eating.

So in order to perhaps provide a modicum of inspiration, I’ll post pretty much everything I eat – not that I’m a paleo guru or gourmet cook of course, just to show that an average person with a busy life can make choices and live with it quite comfortably.

As I had a late breakfast today I skipped lunch and had a late afternoon snack with the remainder of the morning’s smoothie along with a handful of almond and pistachio nuts.

And here’s today’s dinner:

What have we got here then?

  • Steak: this is a “Pelé Royale”, which after looking at a picture of beef cuts appears to be the hamstring from the rear leg of the animal. It’s a pretty tender and fat-free cut. I brush with olive oil and fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes each side so it’s still rare in the middle
  • Not seen in this photo as I added it afterwards was a dollop of coarse-grain mustard
  • Then there’s some sautéed brown mushrooms with onions, garlic, olive oil and Kikkomans soy sauce
  • A large piece of cauliflower which I drenched with more olive oil (I like olive oil) and a bit of salt – when eaten like this, the much maligned vegetable tasted really great
  • The salad is half young leaves and roquette, soy bean srpouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, green olives, beetroot and feta. Then at the table I’ve added (guess what) olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

This was not so time-consuming to prepare and in parallel I cooked the kids some sausages and made them vegetables & potatoes (that’s where I stole the cauliflower from). I’m not great cook and yet this was damn tasty and very healthy food without a grain on sight.

And the benefit of this – I eat until I’m full, sometimes stuffed, but I lose weight at the same time and I won’t feel hungry for a long time afterwards. I’m pretty sure my main health indicators are good too – I will get them checked soon and will post a comparison with how they were before I started all this.

You may notice that I eat (drink?) a lot of olive oil. In fact I have it with every meal: I put it in my breakfast smoothie, pout it over salads and vegetables, fry with it, grill and bake. Even in the office restaurants they have bottles of the stuff and I use it there too on the meals I buy. I reckon I have about 75ml per day, which equates to 675 calories, in principle around 25% of my calorific intake. More on that another day…

 

Intermittent Fasting – Part 3: The Morning After

So after two days of fasting, well except breakfast, I was back to normal eating habits this morning. Strangely enough I wasn’t really feeling so hungry and had to force it a bit, and then I found I couldn’t eat that much, probably I even over-did it as I felt a bit sick. Here’s what I munched this morning (well half of the smoothie was left-over for lunch):

  • Fresh blueberry & strawberry smoothie: 75g blueberries, 60g strawberries, 200ml sugar-free soy milk*, 200g sugar-free full fat natural yoghurt*, 30g whey isolate protein powder & 30ml olive oil
  • 4 scrambled eggs, 2 slices ham, a load of grated Emmental cheese (didn’t measure this), generous amount of olive oil (of course!) and a handful of arugula (rocket/roquette) which I have to admit had seen better times & was yellowing…
  • The ubiquitous 30g overnight water-soaked linseeds with a dash of lime juice
  • Loads of water
  • Six espresso’s, yes six, I know, maybe that’s what made me feel a bit queer!

The eBook is The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I’m halfway through this excellent book and it’s proving to be both an informative and entertaining read. Robb covers quite a few topics in depth that have been glossed-over in other books I’ve read and he writes with a good dose of humour – albeit in a overtly American manner. Anyway, highly recommended.

So how did the fasting go? Well I must admit that yesterday especially I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I was feeling tired and lethargic especially in the evening. As I said yesterday, this could have been due to insufficient sleep as well; will have to compare with future attempts when I actually get my ass into bed at a decent time!

As regards weight, well of course I’m going to lose weight after two days of hardly any food, if for no other reason than the stomach and intestines being relatively empty. That being said, my regular personal waste-disposal mechanism was totally out-of-order yesterday, so could have been better. Here’s the chart, 1.5 kgs down for the two days:

If you’re interested in intermittent fasting then Precision Nutrition’s website provides an excellent primer and free eBook, written (and personally tested) by Dr. John M. Berardi.

* Yeah, I know, soy milk is definitely not Paleo and according to what I’ve read is really quite bad for you, I’m working on eliminating it from my diet. Yoghurt is slightly more of a grey-zone – milk is a no-no, cheese is considered OK, yoghurt falls in the middle. Not sure yet on that one…