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Category Archives: News and Discussions

Various topics of discussion involving Paleo dieting, fitness, and overall wellness

Fats for The Layman: The Good, The Bad, And The Yucky

I am sure that I am not the only “Paleo-er ” that gets a little confused here and there about which fats are the best for us to eat, which are polyunsaturated, which are saturated, which have the acceptable ratios of Omega 3  to Omega 6’s, and so on and so forth. Lets be honest, this is a lot of information to take in, and how do you know you are getting accurate information?  Besides self-education through Robb Wolf podcasts, Paleo recommended books like Art DeVany’s,  The New Evolution Diet,  Robb Wolf’s The Paleolithic SolutionMark Sisson’s Daily Apple Blog, and various peer-reviewed articles on reputable sites like Pubmed, it’s really hard to tell if the information that you are getting regarding fats is really worth its lard..i mean, weight ( har har. ) So I took it upon myself to do some research and compile my findings in an user-friendly, easy ( hopefully!) to follow post. Please understand, these are just my research notes translated into simple to follow bullet points. The fact is, this information goes much more “in-depth” than I am listing in this post. Please expand upon this with your own research. I have also listed my sources below if you would like to expand upon this information.

WHY are fats good for me? The list is endless, but to name some reasons:

  • Fat provides us a source of stored energy
  • The most precious parts of our bodies are made up of fats: the brain, nerves, our reproductive hormones, our cells, etc.
  • Fat helps balance our immune system and fight infection
  • Fat ensures adequate bone formation and repair
  • Fat helps transport cholesterol in the blood
  • Fat regulates inflammatory responses
  • Fat promotes cardiovascular health ( USDA Blasphemy, I know…but its true.)

Basically, without fats, we would die. Our bodies could not function. Okay, now we know that fat is not only “good”, but is vital to our health and well-being. But there are so many different fats out there! Are you telling me that trans fats from McDonald’s fries are improving my brain function?? Uhhhh no…. Confused? Lets break this stuff down and I will try to keep this short and to the point:

Fats are also known as a “triglyceride” ( one molecule of Glycerol attached to three fatty acids).  “Fats” come in a variety of chain lengths. They are divided into 3 groups:

1. Saturated Fats : Includes Lauric, Palmitic, and Steric Acids. Found heavily in Paleo fats like Coconut Oil, Palm Oil,  Chocolate, and Animal Fats ( lard, ghee, tallow, butter, cream). Foods high in saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and have a high smoking point/ tend to be very stable. Saturated fats get a bad wrap as the so-called “cardiovascular disease-causing” fats, however we are learning the dietary culprit for CVD is really carbohydrate abuse and an imbalance between Omega-6 / Omega-3 ratios ( explained later) .  Saturated fats alone are really quite benign and offer a variety of health benefits ( our cell membranes are composed of saturated fats!). In the Paleo Diet, saturated fat is not only allowed, but encouraged.

2. Monounsaturated Fats: aka MUFA’s ( monounsaturated Fatty Acids) Includes Oleic Acid. Found heavily in olive oil, avocado oil, sesame seed oil, and nuts/ nut oils. They tend to oxidize easier ( go rancid) when cooked at higher temperatures. This was the primary fat in the Paleolithic Era, and also the fat we should eat the most of in our diet. They improve insulin sensitivity, keep cholesterol levels in a good place, and keep you looking beautiful or handsome if you’re a dude…:) ( aids with aging factors)

3. Polyunsaturated Fats: aka PUFA’s aka Essential Fats – We call them essential fats because OUR BODIES CANNOT MAKE THESE.  WE MUST GET THEM FROM FOOD. This category is broken down into 2 families: the Omega-3 family and the Omega-6 family.

  • Omega 3’s 🙂  :Includes Alpa-Linolenic Acid (ALA) Eicosapentaenoic Acid ( EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid ( DHA) Good sources of Omega-3’s include wild caught fish, flax seed, walnuts, some eggs ( look to buy eggs where chickens were fed flax), and grass fed meats. Omega-3’s are very beneficial to our health. To check out the laundry list of what Omega-3’s can do for you, click here.
  • Omega 6’s 😦 : Include Linoleic Acid, Gamma Linolenic Acid, Dihomo-Gamma Linolenic Acid, and Arachidonic acid. Although we need some Omega-6’s in our diet,  we really want to keep them to a minimum/ or keep the ratio right or we bring on inflammation and a host of other health problems. Foods with high levels of polyunsaturated fat and omega-6s we really try to avoid in the Paleo diet are: Corn Oil, Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Peanut Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Pumpkinseed Oil, Margarine, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Processed and Cured Meats, large amounts of grain-fed beef without Omega-3 supplementation, and most of all, hydrogenated oils/ partially hydrogenated oils ( aka trans fats)
Now that we know the “Fats” , how the hell do we know which to eat? Well, to keep it really simple, it’s all about ratios and health benefits they provide. For  highly Polyunsaturated fats, ask yourself: what is the ratio of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3’s of what fat you are eating?  For instance, the typical caveman had an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 1:1 to 3:1. The standard Westernized diet is anywhere between 10:1 to 30:1. = NOT GOOD. Also, there are fats out there that may not have the best ratio, but offer tons of health benefits that tip the scale into the “good” direction.
 What should you take away from all this fat talk?
  • Saturated fats are not “Bad” for you.  There are actually many health benefits to eating them.  They are a fantastic source of energy and were so for our Paleolithic ancestors.
  • Monounsaturated fats should be the bulk of your Paleo fat intake: This includes Olive Oil, avocados, nuts, and some animal fat
  • Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3’s and Omega-6s. Omega-3’s are known as “Anti-inflamatory” ( good!) , Omega-6’s, although there are some benefits in small amounts, they are known as pro-inflammatory when there are too many ( bad stuff).
  •  Just remember, If its high in Polyunsaturated fats, is all about the ratio. Our ancestors ate a 1:1 to 3:1 ratio. Try to stay close to that.
  • Stay away from high % polyunsaturated fats with very high Omega-6 ratio ( example: corn oil is a 46:1 ratio.  Not good at all.)
  • MOST of all…FATS DO NOT MAKE YOU FAT. If you take anything away from this…please let this be it.
Some of My Favorite Healthy Fats to Eat:
1. Olive Oil:  Polysat 3:1 Ratio ( Omega-6 to Omega-3) 75% Monounsaturated Fat and 14% Saturated Fat
2. Avocado/ Avacado Oil: Polysat 12:1 Ratio ( not great ratio but only 13% is Polyunsaturated ) ,  75% Monounsaturated fat  and  12% Saturated fat
3. Macadamia Nuts: 17% Polyunsaturated, 71% Monounsaturated, 12% Saturated
4. Coconut Oil: 2% Polyunsaturated,  6 % Monounsaturated, 92% Saturated
5. Walnuts/ Walnut Oil: Polysat 15:1 Ratio , 63% Polyunsaturated, 23% Monounsaturated, 14 % Saturated
6. Butter or Ghee:  9% Polyunsaturated, 29 % Monounsaturated, 62% Saturated
I hope this helps in understanding fats better. Like I mentioned, there is tons of information that I did not cover in this post.
Sources
 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in News and Discussions

 

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It’s All about The Walnut!

I would like to dedicate the next 7 days of discussion and recipes to one of the best all-around nuts in the Paleo world: The Walnut. For those of you who haven’t tested the “walnut cooking” waters, shame on you! ( I’m not really scolding you. I just have a flair for the dramatic.) But, don’t worry. That will all change soon. In my opinion, walnuts are one of the most versatile nuts out there ( next to almonds). You can eat them whole, use them as a garnish, add them to salad dressings, some baking, pan frying ( not on high heat) and do all other sorts of wonderful things with them and their oils. Here is a few factoids about  our buddy, Mr. Walnut, that you may not know:

  • Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC!
  • There are around 50 species of Walnuts in existence: Most notable are the English Walnut ( aka Persian Walnut) and Black Walnut
  • In the 1700’s, Franciscan monks brought the English Walnut to America- namely California, where over 98% of U.S walnut trees are still grown today.
  • Walnuts have always been considered important for their medicinal properties, including curing bad breath, reducing inflammation, and healing wounds.
  • Walnuts are also very rich in natural oils. Because of this, their oils are frequently used in cooking and baking ( even though walnut oil has traditionally been a more expensive oil to purchase).
  • Used as an excellent substitute for olive oil dipping

So, why should we Paleo-ers give a flying hoot about the Walnut? Well, besides all of these FASCINATING facts I have just relayed to you, the Walnut also happens to be what I consider a “Paleo Super Fat”. The Walnut is a healthy monounsaturated fat that delivers the most omega-3 fatty acids ( also having the best Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio) out of any other tree nut. They are rich in phytonutrients and are an excellent source of selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, iron, and calcium. Furthermore, walnut oil is also a great source of omega-9, which helps artery health and contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which supports the immune system and is known as a cancer-fighter. At 185 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber per serving ( 1 oz), the walnut packs a pretty big nutrient-dense punch. Oh, and did I mention that they are delicious?  POW! POW!

There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking with / storing walnut oil. Since walnut oil is a very light and delicate oil, it is susceptible to becoming oxidized when cooked under high heat. Do not use in cooking where conditions exceed 400 degrees. Also, walnut oil can easily become rancid if not stored properly. To prevent your walnut oil from becoming rancid, store in a cool, dark place in a container that does not allow light through or air. Once a container of walnut oil is opened, it is important to store in your refrigerator. If stored properly, walnut oil can have a shelf life of over a year.

If you would like more information about the health benefits of walnuts, please check out Mark Sisson’s article on Walnut Oil by clicking here.

Additional Sources

Smart Fuel: Walnut Oil – Marks Daily Apple

Interesting Walnut Facts – Nutritioulicious

How Stuff Works – The Walnut

Nuts and Omega-6 Fats – Marks Daily Apple

Culinary Techniques: All about Walnuts

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in News and Discussions, The "Picks"

 

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Paleo Food Diary Day 5, The FINAL DAY!

Here is the final week day of my Paleo Food Diary. What a week of reflection! I have been on the Paleo Diet for three years and I must say, writing down what you eat definitely holds you accountable for what you are eating and how much. This has not only been a great exercise to show meal examples to others ( as intended), but it has been a valuable lesson on what I can improve upon on my diet.  I guess I can compare keeping a food diary to dead-lifting in CrossFit.  I learned how to perform a proper dead-lift years ago. I can also show you exactly what proper dead-lift form should look like. However, when I start dead-lifting heavy weight over and over in a workout, does my back start to round if I am not careful? Yes.  My point is, even though we “know” what we are doing, it is still important to re-evaluate our course from time to time and make sure we are on the right path. If you have been Paleo dieting for some time, I challenge you to keep a food log for a few days. You may find areas that need improvement. I know I did!  🙂

Friday Day 5

Breakfast

  • Egg and veggie scramble: 4 eggs, peppers, onions, and mushrooms
  • 1 cup of grapes

Snack 10:15 am

  • 1 cup of carrots
  • celery and almond butter

11:45 Lunch – Eat out with my parents for my birthday

  • 1 small greek salad with olive oil and vin dressing
  • grilled scallop and shrimp kabobs

Snack 3:30 pm

  • 1 club soda
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • handful of almonds

7:00 pm Dinner

  • 2 lbs of King Crab Legs with melted butter for dipping
  • 1 side garden salad with Olive Oil and Vin dressing
  • 1 cup of broccoli

9:30 pm Snack

  • 2 oz of turkey breast
  • handful of walnuts
  • 2 oz of dark chocolate
 
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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in News and Discussions

 

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Great Recipe for Paleo Mayo!

I stumbled onto a new Paleo blog called PaleoCurious this morning and found this video. Talk about easy! If you guys are anything like me, you love mayo, but don’t eat the Hellman’s or Miracle Whip stuff because of the soybean oil and other additives ( soybean oil is not a Paleo oil due to the fact that it comes from soy and its high level of Omega 6 fatty acids), then check this out. Side note: love Tina’s east coast accent. 🙂

Paleo Mayo with Tina Forzaglia

 

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Day 4 Paleo Diary, Ground Turkey Curry Stir Fry

Thursday – Day 4

Breakfast

  • Egg and Veggie Scramble: 3 1/2 eggs, 2 oz turkey breast, onion, pepper, and mushroom
  • Supplements: 3 Omega 3s, 1 probiotic, and 1 vitamin D
  • 1 cup of decaf coffee

10:00 am snack

  • apple with almond butter

1:30 lunch

  • leftover butternut squash puree with ground beef meatballs in homemade marinara sauce

4:30 snack

  • 2 oz of turkey breast dipped in homemade mayo
  • 1 cup of bell peppers
  • 1 decaf Americano

7:00 pm dinner

  • Ground Turkey Curry Stir Fry ( recipe below )
  • Supplements: 3 omega 3s

9:00 pm

  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup of almonds
  • Peppermint Tea
  • Supplements: 1 probiotic

GROUND TURKEY CURRY STIR FRY RECIPE

It is really funny what you come up with when you start to run out of groceries 🙂 This actually turned out really well and was a great last-minute dinner idea. Only took 25 minutes. Hope you like.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package or 1.5 lbs of ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped bell pepper
  • 2 cups of broccoli
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of Red Curry Paste from Taste of Thai
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large skillet, cook your ground turkey with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once cooked through, add all of your veggies to the skillet. Cook throughly. Either cover skillet with lid or dump contents into a colander to drain off any excess liquid ( the peppers and broccoli hold some water).
  • Add contents back into your skillet and add coconut milk, red curry paste, curry powder, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until well blended and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
 

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Day 3 Paleo Diary, Butternut Squash Bisque Recipe

Good Morning everyone and happy Thursday to you all! I hope you are having a great week filled with great meals ( okay..that was cheesy, I know…but I am in THAT mood today).  I am running a little behind here ( shame on me), so I am posting yesterday’s Paleo food diary today. To make up for my delay, I am also adding a recipe to the list: Butternut Squash Bisque.  Yesterday was a very busy day for me, so I did a decent amount of “grazing” instead of eating full meals…..which makes Wednesday’s log look a little different. Here it goes!

Breakfast

  • Egg and Veggie Scramble: 3.5 eggs, 2 oz of grilled chicken, onions, peppers, and mushrooms with Olive Oil
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Supplements: 3 omega 3 pills, 1 probiotic, 1 Vitamin D

10:45 Snack

  • 3 oz of turkey breast
  • handful of almonds

2:00 pm lunch ( late… I was starving!)

  • 4 oz of leftover grilled chicken bacon onion medley
  • 1 cup of bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of almond butter

5:00 pm Snack

  • 2 pieces of turkey breast
  • 1 Lara Bar

7:00 dinner

  • Butternut Squash Bisque ( Recipe Below)
  • 4 oz of ground Bison with Seasonings
  • Supplements: 3 omega 3 pills

9:30 snack

  • 1 orange
  • handful of almonds
  • peppermint tea
  • Supplements: 1 probiotic

BUTTERNUT SQUASH BISQUE RECIPE

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 5-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices of nitrate free organic pork bacon
  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 lbs of chopped butternut Squash
  • 2 cups of carrots chopped
  • 1 apple chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cardamom ( optional…but adds a nice spice to the dish)
  • 3 1/2 cups of Organic reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1- 2 cups of warm water ( depends on how thick you would like your bisque to be)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • dash of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook bacon in a large saucepan or stock pot until done. Remove bacon from pot and set aside on paper towels to drain and tear into bits. Add your garlic to the bacon grease in the pan and cook until golden brown.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the  pot except the apple cider vinegar and warm water. Bring to boil for 20-25 minutes until carrots are mostly cooked through and soft.
  • puree half of your stock pot contents in your food processor for about 45 seconds or until smooth. Add 1/2 cup of your warm water to puree and thin it out. Add half of your apple cider vin. to your batch and blend. Add bacon pieces on top of bisque. Serve hot and enjoy! ( repeat process with the second half of your mix left in your pot. – I suggest blending half of your batch at a time to avoid spilling in your food processor.)
 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in News and Discussions, Veggies

 

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Food Diary Exposed: Day 2 , Grilled Chicken Bacon and Onion Medley

Welcome to Day 2 of Food Diary Exposed. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am keeping a one week food diary for any new Paleo-ers who need some sort of reference to get their daily meal plan under way. It’s not necessarily a guideline, but more of an example of what a week of meals can look like for a person on the Paleo Diet.

TUESDAY – DAY 2

Breakfast

  • Egg and Veggie Scramble : 3 1/2 eggs, 1 chopped strip of bacon, onions, peppers, and mushrooms
  • Supplements: 3 omega-3 fish oils , 1 probiotic, 1 vitamin D

11:00 am Snack

  • 2 oz of grilled chicken
  • 1 apple
  • handful of almonds

1:30 Lunch

  • 4 oz of pot roast with carrots
  • 1 tomato sliced
  • Side salad with raspberry vinaigrette and almonds

5:00 dinner

  • butternut squash with chicken bacon onion medley ( Picture shown above)
  • 1 orange

7:00 post work out snack

  • salad with grilled chicken, tomatoes, almonds, mushrooms, and peppers – balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 cup of grapes
 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in News and Discussions

 

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