Self-awareness, and Plant-based Paleo

When my kids were so little, I had a dear friend who lived three buildings down from me right on my street.  She had some pretty wonderful kids who were the same age as mine, and on the daily we could come right outside our buildings and send our kiddos skipping to to each other’s apartments - making sure they waved and blew kisses once they arrived safe and sound :). It was pretty dreamy…

In addition to being a really fun friend, she was a really amazing cook.  And her family was on (what I thought at the time was) a very strict diet. Have you guys heard of Paleo?  They were early adopters.  

Whenever she would describe her family’s eating habits to me, I would be like “Oh yeah, we totally eat that way too.”

...and then the next time her kiddos came over I would realize that I actually had no idea what to feed them because all my go-to snacks and meals were full of gluten and dairy, and very NOT paleo approved.  

This surprised me every time, because I thought that I fed my family pretty well - thank you - and that my kids diets were composed of the majority of healthy foods. I knew that they weren’t eating spinach salad for lunch or anything, but they definitely could down some guacamole, and that felt victorious in my book. What I began to realize, is that our daily eating habits consisted of a lot of processed foods (yikes), and very very little vegetables (oh boy), and hefty servings of cheese to make meals palatable (I’m so sorry, kids (and self)....).

Sometimes it takes encountering someone who is really living out the lifestyle habits you aspire to, to give you the inspiration and practical advice you need to actually live out that lifestyle too.

This friend was SO inspirational to me. She quietly coached me on how to nourish myself and family well. I never actually asked for her recipes, and she never scolded me when I gave my children goldfish while her children were eating broccoli-slaw-wrapped-in-lettuce. But as I watched what she ate throughout the day I realized - I can totally do this. And I can do this in a way that would really work for me and my family.

This ended up looking a little different for us, because we are different people, but the principles I saw her live by I adopted.  

Eat whole foods.  More plants.  Choose organic. Fruit is such a treat! And, educate yourself and your family as you eat.  

Don’t just serve up a sweet potato and say “you better eat this” - remind yourself and those you love how good it tastes, highlight how healthy the food is for them - specifically how it makes their body well, and model thankfulness. This promotes mindful eating, grows appreciation for how our bodies are influenced by food, and increases gratitude.

Frequently, I will start my clients out with a cleanse where they follow a vegan or paleo diet for a set amount of time - 21 day vegan cleanse and Whole 30 are my go-to suggestions.  This is a fantastic way to jump-start your body’s metabolic processes, detoxify your organs, and start to heal your gut.  Usually the first couple of weeks are a beast, and then you start feeling so good you just want to keep going……. From there you start to even out your eating habits, adding back in nutritious foods that were not included on your cleanse - listening to your body to see how you feel.

I have found that many of my clients and friends really resonate with a plant-based Paleo approach to eating.

They find that when they eat more protein, they stay full for longer and their blood sugar doesn’t crash. More protein in your meals will actually keep sugar and sweets cravings at bay!!

What I mean by plant-based Paleo is that you first try to add protein and nutrients into your meals with plants. Adding in more plant protein has incredible benefits.

Did you know that 2C of kale has  4 g of protein? And there is 26 g of protein in 1 C of oats?? Beans and legumes are my favorite to add to meals.  1 C of pinto beans has 41 g of protein (!!) - as a comparison, one chicken breast has 43 g.  The benefit  of adding in plant protein is that you get fiber as well.  High fiber diets boast health benefits like reduced risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease. Not to mention all the vitamins and phytonutrients that plants give you.  Adding more plant protein results in a clean-and-full feeling instead of a heavy-and-stuffed feeling.  

If you listen to your body and know that for you, protein is a game changer - consider adding in plant protein first.  Go ahead and grill that steak, roast that chicken, and fry that fish. But fill up with plants as well as animal protein, and your gut, heart, and hormones will thank you.

In honor of my friend, and cutie fam, here are my fave Paleo and Whole 30 friendly breakfasts for you to try.  Who knows, maybe by adding in really good food, your life will start to change too….

Breakfast can be a powerful thing :)

Spring-and-Summer Vegetable Scramble

  • 1 small Zucchini

  • ¼ Onion or 1 shallot

  • 10 or so asparagus

  • Grapefruit (on the side)

  • Extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil

Heat oil in a small skillet to med-high.  Chop veggies into bite-sized pieces. Add the onions to the pan and saute until translucent.  Add zucchini and asparagus and season with S&P, cook for 3-5 min until softened and a bit caramelized.  While veggies are cooking, crack eggs in a bowl and whisk together.  Add eggs to the veggies and scramble.  Serve alongside a grapefruit for the perfect savory-sweet-salty-tart flavor profile.  This should take 10 min, max!!

Sweet Potato and Kale Hash (serves 2)

  • 1 Sweet potato

  • 2 C Kale leaves

  • 2-4 Sausage links

  • 4 Eggs

  • Blueberries

This is the breakfast of champions!!! It is the perfect weekend brunch, or an ambitious week day breakfast that will never disappoint.

Heat a small skillet on med-high heat, add 1 tsp EVOO.  Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces with a kitchen scissor (or serrated knife) and add to the pan. While sausage is cooking, chop up sweet potato into ½ inch squares.  De-stem the kale and chop the leaves into about 1 inch pieces.

Add sweet potato to the pan after sausage has been cooking for 5ish minutes.  Cook sweet potatoes and sausage together for 5 minutes, then add the kale, salt and pepper.  Saute veggies and sausage until kale is wilted, sausage is cooked, and sweet potatoes are soft - about 2-3 more minutes.  Divide the hash between 2 plates.

Wipe out the pan and re-heat. Season eggs with S&P and fry to desired done-ness.  Top hash with eggs, and savor every bite!! Blueberries on the side add even more goodness.

Papaya and Bacon

  • Papaya

  • Bacon

Yep. It’s that simple.  This is one of my favorite breakfasts to eat while I work.  Sometime I will have client calls early in the morning, and urgent emails that must be sent before 9am - I’ll wake up early, line a baking sheet with tin foil, spread the bacon onto it, bake it for 20 min (cut up the papaya in the meantime) and then “graze” on them both throughout the morning.  The soft sweetness of the papaya and the salty chewiness of the bacon is a winning combo.  Papaya is very cleansing to your liver, which is good because bacon is not (let’s just keep it real, alright?)

Sometimes I will add half of a chopped avocado on the side (seasoned with S&P and a squeeze of lemon) just to make this even more filling and nutritious...

Enjoy, friends!