Mediterranean Paleo Cooking Book Signing & Paleo Popup Brunch

Hey friends,

How have you been? I’ve been great and I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to this past weekend.

Mediterranean Paleo Cooking Book Signing

 

Med Paleo

On Saturday, I attended a book signing for Mediterranean Paleo Cooking and had the opportunity to chat with the authors Caitlin Weeks of Grassfed Girl, Chef Nabil Boumrar (who happens to be her husband, or as I like to refer to him, in my head: “Grassfed Boy”), and Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo and the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

They were all wonderful to chat with in person. The book is absolutely gorgeous and filled with tantalizing recipes.

 

So far, I am super impressed with how useful the book seems to be, as it has taken into consideration food intolerances and allergies, which many people have. Stay tuned for a full review of the cookbook.

SF Paleo Pop-Up Brunch

On Sunday, I attenIMG_8084ded a Paleo Popup Brunch. Early on in my holistic nutrition program, I connected with one of my classmates as we discovered we were the only two students who were “paleo people”. We quickly bonded over our shared values of a nutrient dense, whole foods-based diet.

Recently, she told me about a popup brunch she was organizing with a few of her friends. Eager to support the growing Paleo movement in my community, I attended the event.

The food was delicious, and was by definition grain free, gluten free, legume free, minimally processed, organic, and free of refined seed oils.

In addition to being seasonal and delicious, special offerings were available for vegetarians as well as those with nut allergies.

 

 

 

Fritatta with squash and greensFritatta with squash and greens. Bacon, kale, and sweet potato hash.

Smoked Salmon and Dill on Cucumber

Smoked salmon with dill on cucumber

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Paleo Coconut Banana Muffin with butter

 

 

 

Paleo Muffins: Coconut Banana, Pumpkin Walnut

Paleo Muffins: Coconut flour based banana muffins & Pumpkin based walnut muffins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paleo Brownies were provided by SF based Paleo baked goods company Real Food Kitchen. Although I didn’t personally try them due to a nut intolerance, people seemed to gobble them up. You can find Real Food Kitchen here.

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At the brunch, I connected with several like-minded individuals who are equally as excited as I am to be a part of the real food movement. I sat next to Zoe Wong of Revive Foods, which produces minimally processed jams that are made from local and organic surplus fruits. The jams that were available to sample at brunch were made from “rescued” fruit from Whole Foods Oakland.

Zoe explained that produce that is perfectly good to eat, but may be aesthetically unfit, such as bruised fruit, often go to waste. Zoe’s mission is to reduce food waste while producing delicious and healthier products. Revive Foods is still in its start up phase, but you can keep up with them on their FaceBook page.

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SF Paleo Popup

The lovely organizers of the Paleo Popup Brunch

 

At this time, the organizers of this brunch do not have a website, however, I will provide updates to this blog post if this changes in the future

******** Update 11/4/14*******

If you’re interested in attending future pop up events, you can keep up with Paleo Pop-Up here and here.

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The Paleo community is small but growing here in the Bay Area. I had a great weekend connecting with like-minded people. I love to know that there are people in my community who value nutrition in the same way that I do.

I encourage you to get out there, and connect yourself with people in your community who share the same interests as you do. You never know who you’ll meet or what opportunities may come your way.

Love and light,

vm

Double Chocolate Macaroons

Paleo Double Chocolate Macaroons by Against All Grain

Double Chocolate Macaroons by Against All Grain

I’m back with a crowd-pleasing recipe from Danielle Walker‘s cookbook Against All Grain. Recently, I attended a potluck at my gym. It’s a very family-oriented community, so it meant fun times and lots of food (I mean LOTS of it). I opted to contribute Double Chocolate Macaroons because..

1) They’re delicious.
2) People love ’em.
3) They’re Paleo*.

* A note on the word “Paleo”: When I say “they’re Paleo”, I don’t mean “cavemen must have eaten chocolate macaroons”, no. What I DO mean is that the food item contains nutrient-dense, whole ingredients. It’s free of refined oils (like nasty canola, hydrogenated oils, and industrial seed oils), grains, gluten, refined sugar, and anything highly processed. Although “Paleo” is a word that has been abused, overused, debated, and associated with fad dieting, I view it as just a handy word that communicates clean food in 3 easy syllables.

Now that we’re on the same page, here’s the recipe:

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Double-Chocolate Macaroons

Source: Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 C shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • ½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ C honey
  • ½ C coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch sea salt
  • ½ C dark chocolate chips, melted

Instructions

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients together
  2. Add a pinch of sea salt to the egg white and beat with a mixer or by hand until peaks form
  3. Add egg white to coconut mixture by gently folding in
  4. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, form balls onto parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Bake for 30 mins at 325 degrees F, rotating the tray halfway through. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour
  6. Dip the bottom of the macaroons into the melted chocolate and set at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Macaroon 6Recipe Tips

I opted to make a bite sized version of these by making them 1/3 of the size. If you do this, decrease the oven  temperature and cooking time. This may vary depending on your oven, but I reduced the temperature of my oven to 310 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Remember to check on them by pushing down gently and rotate half way to avoid burning!

I find that making them smaller helps to retain moisture, and are a more enjoyable texture since you’re not chomping down on a ton of shredded coconut all at once. The dark chocolate to shredded coconut ratio is also higher this way. I’m no mathematician, but methinks more chocolate = more better.

Read the label, and go for the soy lecithin free chocolate (Soy = GMOs) that is at least 75% cacao. I used a combination of Enjoy Life chocolate chips and an organic fair trade dark chocolate bar. For the coconut, I also used the Let’s Do Organic brand. All of this can be found at Whole Foods or Amazon.

Lastly, if you don’t have parchment paper on hand, foil works just fine. Just be gentle.

Nutrition Tid Bits

Dark Chocolate

  • Consumed and fermented by certain bacteria in the intestines into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart (1)
  • High in polyphenols which lower blood pressure (2)
  • Protects against UV damage (3)

Coconut (4)

  • Contains lauric acid and capric acid which are both converted in the body to substances that are antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal
  • Coconut oil protects against heart disease
  • Promotes weight loss and increases the body’s metabolic rate

These macaroons are a delicious snack or dessert that are suitable for many people since they are gluten, nut, seed, and grain free. Although these are better for you than most desserts, remember that the sugar content is still high due to the honey.  So enjoy them as a treat and not as an everyday staple.

Love and light,

vm

Sources:
(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318154725.htm
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23209885
(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16702322
(4) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005).The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Morsels 1/27/14

Hello ladies and gents,

How was your weekend? Mine was so much fun.

I thought I’d mix things up with this edition of Monday Morsels and tell you what I was up to this past weekend.

Friday:

My boyfriend and I went on an impromptu date night after work. This is rare, folks. We had burgers at Eureka! in Berkeley. (Of course, I ordered mine bunless.) This was such a rare treat for the two of us. Since I came down with Histamine Intolerance a year ago, I’ve had to be painstakingly careful about what I eat. I can say with certainty that we ate out less than 20 times in 2013. It was nice to eat out together this weekend, blow off some steam, and feel like I was in my 20s again.

“Safe” Restaurant Foods:

Since I’ve been recovering, I’ve realized that a “safe” restaurant food for me is a bunless burger, as long as the meat is of good quality and I omit any sauces.  I generally look for grassfed and organic meats.  Eureka! offers hormone and antibiotic-free meat.  Fries are a guilty treat and usually safe (ish) if they are gluten free.

Roam Artisan Burgers is a Paleo community favorite, so it’s definitely on my radar.

Another safe restaurant food for me is sushi. Just plain old raw fish and a little rice. Hold the soy sauce, tempura anything, imitation crab, and all other sauces.

Which brings me to…

Saturday:

Gorgeously presented Chirashi from Joshu-ya Brasserie

Chirashi from Joshu-ya Brasserie

>> We met up with some good company at Joshu-ya Brasserie. The chirashi I ordered was the most beautiful I’d ever eaten.

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<< We ended the night by watching the movie “Her”. It was beautiful and deserving of the hype it has generated. If you’re thinking of going to see it, go with an open mind.

 

 

 

Sunday:

Gluten free loot

Gluten-free, paleo-friendly Loot!

On Sunday, I attended the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. I connected with some like-minded individuals, met one of the editors of Paleo Magazine, found some clean beauty brands to get excited about like Lovely Lady Products and Red Apple Lipstick (review coming soon), and got a boatload of discounted gluten free and grain free snacks! It was such a great event. I feel lucky to live in a community where an event like this exists. It raises awareness, brings people together, and supports those who live a gluten free lifestyle.

 

Now without further adieu..Monday Morsels!

Nutrition:

thelowhistaminechef.com

thelowhistaminechef.com

>> Yasmina, the Low Histamine Chef whipped up a stupidly delicious looking Creamy Vegan Dulce De Leche Ice Cream.  This ice cream is Paleo-friendly and uses butternut squash and coconut cream as its base. Need I say more?

alisonvickery.com.au/

alisonvickery.com.au/

<< My friend and fellow histamine avenger, Alison Vickery, posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins using banana flour. Alison is a holistic health coach who specializes in auto-immune conditions.

Wellness:

Simona Supekar wrote about how the internet helped her cope with a rare disease. This is close to my heart as her story mirrored a bit of my own. Forward this to anyone going through a difficult to understand illness. Or read this if you have a loved one in your life who is very ill and you’d like to help, but aren’t sure how.  Sometimes just a loved one’s understanding is enough to make a difference. There is support out there if you just look for it.

I hope you have a great week!

Love and light,

vm

My Wellness Journey and the Paleo Diet

In 2010, when I joined CrossFit, I heard a lot of buzz about this so-called “Paleo” diet. It came off as so curiously trendy. You’d hear people saying things like, “is this Paleo?” or see pictures of pizza on Facebook with captions that read “#not paleo”. Eventually, I wanted to try it out, really more for superficial reasons than anything else. I was already reasonably fit and eating pretty healthily, but I wanted to see what the hubbub was all about. I wanted to lean out and “look good naked”, so thus began my strict stint with Paleo. It lasted for two months, and although it did reinforce my ideas about eating whole foods, and helped to stress the importance of the sourcing of meat and vegetables, adhering to the strict diet didn’t last. This might sound silly, but it bothered me how trendy it was, how restrictive it seemed, and how it glorified bacon so much. I like bacon as much as the next girl, but I couldn’t help but want to separate myself from the meathead ideals that it seemed to project.

Three years later, Histamine Intolerance entered my life like a bat out of hell. Very suddenly, I had seemingly allergic reactions to foods I had always eaten regularly. At first it was almonds, pecans, sesame, and oranges. I nearly fainted at work and my senior manager at the time embarrassingly accompanied me—a grown woman—to the ER. Then pecans sent me to the ER (funtimes). And then there was the time kombucha gave me vertigo. I remember trying to lie down to sleep it off, but every time I closed my eyes, I boarded some zany topsy-turvy roller coaster ride. Black rice and red onions made my heart race. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Extensive allergy tests came back negative for food allergies. It was puzzling and became the scariest experience of my life.

I always had an active interest in wellness. I was an overweight kid in grade school, so throughout high school and college, I relished in learning about healthy foods and implementing them in my life. I was a food enthusiast to the core (refer to previous comment about being a chubby kid) and my childhood was spent watching Jacques Pepin’s KQED cooking shows on Sunday mornings, helping my amazing grandmother whip up delicious dishes, and dreaming of owning a restaurant one day. As a young adult, I regularly made time to take care of my body through exercising, even in the first few years of my very stressful accounting career, often working 13-hour days. For the first time in my life, I felt like food and my own body were turning against me.

The Low Histamine Diet

I eventually found the low histamine diet, which is the only effective treatment for Histamine Intolerance. Without getting too much into it, histamine intolerance is the body’s inability to break down histamine. Your body has a natural response to release histamine in the presence of allergens and in addition, there are many foods that contain histamine. Your body may become overwhelmed with histamine if the mechanism to degrade it (the DAO enzyme) is not functioning properly. When this happens, you can experience a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms such as headache, hives, heartburn, dizziness, difficulty breathing, exhaustion, insomnia, chest pain, tissue swelling, and more.

It’s a tricky condition, as the effect of histamine intolerance is not immediate; it’s cumulative. This is why it’s often referred to as a pseudo-allergy.

For more information about this condition, click here, here, and here.

The low histamine diet aims to reduce the body’s histamine load by eliminating all high histamine foods. These foods include but are not limited to: processed/cured/smoked meats, all fermented foods (wine, cheese, sauerkraut, yogurt, meats), all slow cooked foods, any leftovers, spinach, tomatoes, citrus fruits, MSG, vinegar, chocolate, anything processed or artificial, coffee, and tea.

For seven months, I strictly adhered to this diet. Day in and day out, I cooked all my meals from scratch because I could not tolerate leftovers. I stopped eating out because the effects of it could and would wipe out all of my energy and cause digestive distress for days. I had to say ‘no’ to dinners and drinks with friends, and I felt awkward and isolated at weddings because of my dietary restrictions.

Learning to Thrive

Throughout my journey, I picked up tips and tricks to help myself further progress. On Sundays, I grocery shopped and washed and prepped all of my veggies for the week. I bought the value pack of grass-fed beef, sliced it up, froze it in individual portions, and defrosted each portion as needed for a quick stir fry. I made soup regularly in large batches and then froze them in individual portions to save on cooking time. I ate lots of anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine foods as inspired by Yasmina aka The Low Histamine Chef. I ate foods that supported the stabilization of mast cells (cells which release histamine).

I eventually implemented the low FODMAP diet, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and the GAPS diet, which can be therapeutic for individuals who are experiencing autoimmune and/or digestive conditions.

As a side note for those who have Histamine Intolerance, are experiencing auto-immunity, or other debilitating conditions, none of this was easy. It was an emotional roller coaster of hope and despair. It involved a lot of trial and error. Good days and bad days. It required a lot of effort and a good attitude. But your health is worth it, so hang in there.

How My Low Histamine Diet Evolved to Paleo

When you are on as restrictive a diet as the low histamine diet, it’s easy to recognize food sensitivities that you normally wouldn’t have noticed. For instance, I don’t have Celiac disease, but I began to notice the digestive distress I experienced when eating wheat and whole grains. Up until this point in my life, I accepted massive bloating after eating certain foods as “normal”. Sure, I complained about it often, but I still fully accepted it as just how my body functioned. I didn’t realize that I could completely remedy the discomfort by avoiding certain foods. Discomfort aside, I realized how serious the effects of gluten could be even for non-Celiacs.

At around eight months, I noticeably progressed. In addition to eliminating certain foods like gluten, I started to add higher histamine foods back into my diet, especially those that supported intestinal health. (**Note: I was ready for this after 8 months of strict adherence to the low histamine diet as well as a commitment to healing via stress reduction, sleep sufficiency, and all other aspects of my life. Everyone is different, so please exercise caution if you have Histamine Intolerance.**)

I dove deep into information on gut health and focused a lot of my energy on preparing and eating nourishing foods that support the healing and maintenance of a healthy intestinal flora, such as 24-hour bone broth, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

The best part of this very challenging year is that I began to develop a perspective on nutrition. I deeply understood and appreciated the role of food in the healing process. I began to fully embody my views of optimal health via eating a nutrient-dense whole foods-based diet. I cooked my meals in stable, natural fats such as coconut oil and ghee. I made sure the meats I ate were grass-fed and organic and the vegetables I purchased were organic and local, whenever possible. I bought pastured eggs if my grocery budget could afford them. *Here’s a tip: the beauty of not eating out allows the high quality stuff to be a bit more affordable.

So Paleo Actually Works

Eating this way began as necessity and will continue by choice. I realized recently that I have inadvertently stumbled back into the Paleo diet that I once tried a few years earlier. As much as I initially wanted to dismiss the diet as a fad, it actually became the diet that worked for me, especially at this very critical point in my life. I initially viewed the Paleo diet as this restrictive way of eating. Now I see it as a way of choosing health. It is a way to intentionally nourish yourself through consuming nutrient-dense foods while eliminating foods that harm you. It’s a way to support local farms and to stop supporting “Big Food”, GMOs, and factory farming.

When I first tried the Paleo diet, my approach and my intentions were all wrong. I didn’t understand why I shouldn’t eat grains or why I should even cook with coconut oil. I just abided by the yes and no lists. If I could offer any advice, it would be to gain a deep understanding of why you are eating the way that you are, whether you’re eating a macrobiotic vegan, vegetarian, or paleo diet. When you are a well-informed individual, it makes your intention much more meaningful and effective.

I don’t consider myself a Paleo die-hard or purist. I eat white rice a few times each week because I tolerate it well and because resistant starch is beneficial for intestinal health. More on that here. Unless I am intentionally doing an elimination diet, I don’t see myself eating 100% Paleo all of the time. I agree with following an Ancestral/Primal/Paleo/Weston A Price/whatever-you-want-to-call-it template but allow myself some wiggle room to indulge within reason.

I’m still reading through Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser, but I can already tell that this book is a sigh a relief. It dispels the notion that the Paleo diet is dogmatic and rigid. Instead, it suggests that the diet should be customized to meet everyone’s needs. For instance, Chris says that if someone can thrive while eating dairy, they should not exclude it from their diet. To me, this makes a lot of sense as I choose to eat this way for optimal health rather than for historical reenactment.

My views on the details of Paleo may evolve as research surfaces and as I begin my nutrition program this Spring. However, this is what has worked for me thus far. I hope this information was helpful to you in understanding the Paleo diet.

Love and light,

vm