I like legumes and I cannot lie

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Beans, beautiful beans! And lentils! And peanuts! How I love thee!

Oh wait, legumes aren’t Paleo? Well, I just won’t eat them anymore…

NOT!!

I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with the Paleo experts on this one. I just don’t understand why legumes are vilified and avoided. So, I did a little research. Here’s a brilliant statement found on a paleo forum:

Beans are a no-go on Paleo because it’s a food that has to be processed before it can be rendered edible. You can’t eat beans raw off of the stalk because they’re toxic (a defense mechanism that prevented birds from chowing on them). They need to be soaked & cooked, and cavemen didn’t start doing that until the Neolithic period.

I have multiple issues with this statement. 1) I don’t think the need for a food to be “processed” before it’s eaten should be a qualifier. Meat, one of the Paleo mainstays, needs a bit of processing before you can eat it. 2) I refuse to eat or not eat a food based on an evolutionary millions-of-years worldview. I eat Paleo (-ish) because it most closely aligns with GAPS but allows more freedom, NOT because I actually believe in cavemen/Paleolithic era nonsense.

The only part of the above quote that I can agree with is the defense mechanism built into legumes. But I wonder if calling them toxic might be taking it a bit far. More research into the topic yielded this:

It’s confusing to me that grains and legumes (all beans – black, pinto, soy, peanuts, etc.) would be so pleasing to us, since they’re basically poisonous, having heavily contributed to the current, overwhelming predominance of heart disease, digestive disorders and obesity rates in this country. There are a lot of reasons for this – grains and legumes contain a sordid collection of “anti-nutrients”. Some of them strip away your minerals and some cause intestinal damage and immune problems.

This “sordid collection of anti-nutrients” is made up of lectins, phytates, and saponins.

Read more on lectins here, more on phytates here, and more on saponins here.

Here are some points to consider before determining whether legumes are indeed toxic.

1. Legumes aren’t the only foods with anti-nutrients. Grains, nuts, and seeds also contain lectins and phytates, in similar or greater quantities than legumes. Yet the Paleo community embraces nuts and seeds, using them extensively in baking and snacking. They say things like, “Nuts should be used sparingly” and “ideally, nuts and seeds should be soaked”. But in reality, most Paleo eaters do not do those things. What makes those unsoaked nuts healthier than my soaked beans??

2. Phytates are removed by soaking in water. Overnight or 24 hour soaking, removes phytates, especially if an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice is added. This process works on legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains.

3. Lectins can be removed (or at least greatly minimized). Pressure cooking destroys lectins! It has the same effect on phytates. Read all the technical details here

4. It appears saponins may actually have health benefits. In fact, every article I read on the topic promoted saponins as a very beneficial substance for the body.

5. Historical significance of legumes. Many people groups around the world eat legumes every day! In India, it is in the form of dal, a lentil or bean based dish. Beans are a central ingredient in Central American cuisine. Mediterranean food has multiple uses for legumes, including one of my favorites, hummus! Almost every culture uses legumes as a staple food. Which begs the question, if they are so toxic, why is everyone in the world eating them every day?

6. Select legumes are allowed on GAPS. That includes navy beans, all lentils, and peanuts. The only ones that are not allowed are excluded because of starch content, not any other reason!

All things considered, I’m going to continue eating beans, lentils, and peanuts. Especially now that I have discovered pressure cooking. But I will save that for another post!

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Facing Reality

Two steps forward, one step back.  That is how my return to paleo has been going.  I can’t seem to get traction to stay going in the right direction!  I have a few good days, but then fall prey to a bowl of oatmeal or a slice of pizza.

Last week was, I think, a turning point for me.  On Thursday I had oatmeal for breakfast then guacamole and tortilla chips for lunch.  I rationalized both of those things like this: 

Well, the oatmeal is only 2/3 oats and the rest is coconut so it won’t be that bad.

and

The chips aren’t completely corn… and all the other ingredients are sprouted!  And the corn is non-GMO and they are organic, so it should be okay.

Yeah.  No.

That afternoon I felt absolutely horrible!  My back was hurting, and it felt like my feet were falling asleep.  I figured I had some nasty inflammation around my SI joint and that was the cause.  I grabbed an ice pack and went to lay down.  As I lay there in the quiet, I actually had time to pay attention to my body.  I realized that all of my appendages were buzzing with tingly nerve pain.  The ice pack had no effect whatsoever because it wasn’t simple inflammation that I was dealing with.  I think my body was responding (very negatively!) to the food I had eaten earlier in the day.

I was awakened to a stark reality.  This “diet change” isn’t optional.  It isn’t 80/20.  It isn’t only eat Paleo when I feel like it and just deal with the fallout.  If I don’t make this change, I am staring down the barrel of some serious health problems.

Does that make it easier to resist temptation?  A little.  But mostly it gives me a WHY.  I need to eat a Paleo type diet because I want to feel good.  I don’t want to be in bed with disabling pain.  I may end up there some day, but darn it, I’m not going down without a fight!

Grain Free Breakfast: Fried Eggs & Sweet Potato Hash

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Breakfast has been difficult for me as I try to return to Paleo. Our time on GAPS left me with a hatred of scrambled eggs because I ate them almost every day. For nearly six months, I could not stomach the thought of eating eggs for breakfast. During those six months, I ate oatmeal, grain free or gluten free waffles, maybe granola.

Obviously, a lot of grains had taken over breakfast around here. I had to cut them out but wasn’t sure what to eat instead. Grain free granola is expensive and too many nuts isn’t ideal either. Having baked goods like muffins every morning is a bad habit to get into. Even grain free muffins usually have a good amount of sweetener. I eat Greek yogurt sometimes, especially with peanut butter mixed into it, and that’s not too bad. But many mornings found me standing in the kitchen with a banana, eating it with peanut butter straight from the jar, because I was too tired to do anything else.

I know eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, so I wanted to figure out some way to tolerate them for breakfast. Enter the sweet potato. I had a baked sweet potato in the fridge and I thought just maybe it would temper the eggs and make something yummy. This is what I came up with. It was pretty quick to put together and it made eggs palatable again!

Fried Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash

Bacon grease, as much as desired
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 baked sweet potato, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
Handful of greens – I used baby bok choy from my garden
2 eggs
Real salt & black pepper

Heat the bacon grease in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add sweet potato and let it cook for a couple of minutes to start to brown. Flip sweet potatoes and add greens. Place a lid on the skillet to steam the greens. This will only take 2-3 minutes, tops. Remove the vegetables to a plate. Add more bacon grease or butter to the skillet and crack the eggs carefully into the hot pan. I like to cook these on a high flame. It helps cook the white quickly without the yolk cooking too much. When the eggs are done to your liking, place them on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle on some salt & pepper. Enjoy!

I like to break the egg yolks and spread them all over so every bite gets some delicious yolk. Yum!

This post is part of Well Fed Wednesday over at Well Fed Homestead!

Doctor’s Orders

I had an appointment with my doctor this week, just a checkup – no biggie. I told him how I have been so tired and how I’ve been gaining weight (18 pounds now. yikes.) He knows our whole background, including our stint on the GAPS/Paleo diet. Just two weeks ago, he recommended that Radio Dad go back to that style of eating. After hearing my symptoms, he told me the same thing. That’s right, my doctor told me that we need to eat Paleo! Can I get a prescription for that? Do you think my insurance will cover it? I’m totally kidding. 😉

Have I mentioned how much I love our doctor?!

He also told me to supplement with B vitamins. According to him, everyone going gluten free should supplement with B, especially B-12. He may have told us that years back but I completely forgot. I’m going to research ways to get extra B through food, because food is generally the ideal way to get the nutrients you need. But in the meantime, I will probably add a B-complex supplement.

A doctor’s recommendation still doesn’t solve the problem of our food budget. We can’t go back to full Paleo for all 7 of us. Some say that “Paleo is more expensive” is a myth, that it really doesn’t cost much more. That’s baloney. I guess if you are going from the Standard American Diet (SAD) of processed food and many meals out to eat, to the Paleo diet of meat, veggies, and fruits prepared at home, then the Paleo diet and the SAD might be about the same. But we don’t eat like that. We didn’t eat like that even before GAPS. We eat mostly homemade foods. There have always been some convenience foods, but it hasn’t been the majority of our diet for a very long time. For us, Paleo is quite a bit more expensive. There has to be a compromise.

We’re working it out as we go, but the plan looks something like this: Radio Dad and myself will return to Paleo as much as possible. The children will eat more normally, with grains, sugars, dairy, etc. Curly Girl will remain gluten-free and dairy-free (for the most part) with excess sugar discouraged but I’m not going to be the food police either. Any grains prepared at home will be gluten-free and soaked or soured. I will continue to use healthy sweeteners at home: honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and fruit. Healthy oils will be the only ones we buy. No canola, soy, or corn oil! I will still make potatoes, though I will likely substitute sweet potatoes or cauliflower for us doing Paleo. I’m going to have to double-cook some meals. I hate to do it, but we can’t keep eating what we are eating now. This family needs parents that are healthy and have energy to care for everyone!

I’m also seriously considering the 21-Day Sugar Detox. I’ve had my eye on it for awhile but haven’t taken the plunge. Would anyone like to do it with me?
The 21-Day Sugar Detox

French Toast Coffee

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I’ve found a way to satisfy my French toast cravings without all that guilt! This coffee is creamy and delicious with a beautiful frothy top. It also happens to be a great way to consume the healthy fats that my body needs. I like it even better than Starbucks and it’s a whole lot healthier! This little recipe is inspired by Nourishing Minimalism’s Hot Buttered Coffee.

Ingredients:

10-12 ounces strong coffee
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (I don’t measure, just splash a little in)

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend on high for 20-30 seconds. Makes one serving.

A few tips:
* Be sure to pop open the vent on the blender lid! Blending HOT liquid can cause the lid to fly off and may cause burns if not vented.
* Use a cookie scoop to measure the butter, oil, and syrup! This scoop
is one tablespoon, and this scoop is two tablespoons. Perfect! Set the scoop inside the blender when you pour in the hot coffee and the scoop will come out clean! (The hot coffee melts off the butter & syrup!)
* A word on cinnamon… cinnamon turns into gelatinous slime if it sits too long in liquid. If you plan to drink your coffee quickly, the cinnamon is a great addition. If you plan to put it in a travel mug and sip it slowly over a few hours time, leave it out. Trust me on this one… 😉
* Honey can be substituted for the maple syrup. It won’t be as french-toast-y, but still good.
* You can use all butter, all coconut oil, or any ratio you like! I like this combination the best. Please do not try to substitute any other oils or margarine!! Ick!

There is a lot of fat in this recipe. If you are not used to consuming this much fat in one sitting, you can use less and gradually work your way up. The saturated fat found in coconut oil and butter is super food! Your body needs saturated fat to function optimally. So don’t shy away from the fat!

French Toast with a side of Guilt

I ended last time describing the no man’s land that we’ve found ourselves in. Stuck between ideologies, we toggle back and forth between “we need to eat Paleo so we can feel better” and “who cares, just get something on the table”.

Since we’ve been throwing caution to the wind and “eating the food”, I decided to make French toast. I haven’t had French toast in over two years. I saw a loaf of cinnamon bread on the day old rack at the grocery store. It was just begging me to buy it and make French toast. The croissants also begged me to buy them and make chicken salad. I think I need to stop having conversations with bread!

Anyway, yesterday I made the most delicious French toast for breakfast. Cooked to crispy tastiness in lots if coconut oil, slathered with butter and covered in real maple syrup, it was like toasty angels dancing on my tongue! That is to say, it was yummy and I enjoyed eating it. I didn’t worry about its nutritional value or what it might do to me. I felt fine after eating it. All is well.

Riiiight. I guess ignorance really is bliss.

A short while later, I stepped on the scale. I don’t weigh myself every day, usually just once or twice a week. It did not have good news. I have now surpassed 15 pounds gained since March 1. I’m also up 2-3 pant sizes. I had to dig jeans out of my craft project bucket to wear yesterday. Why the craft bucket, you ask? Well, they were so ridiculously big a year ago that I was going to make a big tote bag out of them! Isn’t that hilarious?!

Not funny anymore.

It gets better! Radio Dad also had trouble fitting into his jeans and a doctors office scale revealed a new highest weight ever! Years ago, he struggled to put weight on. Now, not so much.

We have a problem. Even the doctor suggested we return to Paleo. I’m guessing there won’t be anymore French toast any time soon.

Confusing and Contradictory

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Last time, I told you that I had done a lot of reading and researching in my blogging absence.  I also mentioned that a lot of what I was reading conflicted with the knowledge I had previously accumulated.  Let me expound on this…

Shortly after we went on GAPS, I began to see a lot of articles in the blogosphere about the Paleo diet.  This was awesome, because GAPS and Paleo are very similar.  The Paleo diet suggests no grains, dairy, legumes, or refined sugars.  GAPS allows certain legumes and some dairy, but is more strict about sweeteners.  Still, most recipes coming across the Paleo blogs were GAPS legal.  As the Paleo movement has continued to grow, more and more science has come in to back it up.  More and more people have success with it.  And more and more, it aligns with GAPS, especially something called Autoimmune Paleo, which is another healing diet specifically for people with autoimmune disorders.

I also began to read more blogs promoting “Traditional” diets such as are described in the book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
and promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF).  These often crossed circles with Paleo and GAPS, because all of them endorse REAL food.  The major difference is that most WAPF’ers eat grains, especially if they are soaked or fermented (think sourdough).  Still, a lot of helpful information.  I knew GAPS was a temporary diet, so learning about proper preparation of grains is something I wanted to do.

So far, so good, right?  And then came Matt Stone.  And you’re thinking, who is he and why do we care?  I thought the same thing at first.  But he kept showing up.  Seemingly everywhere I turned, there was someone talking about Matt Stone and his wonderful ideas.  So I followed the rabbit trail…

Matt Stone has a blog called 180 Degree Health, which I am not linking because I find his writing to be brash, rude, and sometimes foul-mouthed.  I don’t care how good your ideas are, there’s no need for that.  Google at your own risk.  However, there are a whole lot of other ways to find out what he is all about.  One of the WAPF blogs I follow, Cheeseslave, embraced his teachings early on and has since been very vocal about his ideaology.  Here it is in a nutshell: Health is all about metabolism, at the cellular level.  The best way to track metabolic health is to track your body temperature.  If it averages less than 98.6, you are not in good metabolic health.  To raise your body temperature, you need more carbs, more calories, more salt, more sleep, less water, and less strenuous exercise (cardio).  The advice being thrown around the blogosphere is this: JUST EAT THE FOOD.  Whatever it is, whatever you want, just eat it.  No restrictions.  No special diets.  No calorie counting.  Just eat whatever you want to get that body temperature up.  Bloggers started latching on to this, shouting it from the rooftops.  Gladly proclaiming that they have gained 10, 20, 50 pounds but it didn’t matter because they had raised their body temperature and felt really great!  Those same bloggers saying that Paleo is terrible and GAPS should be dumped.

Now, I’m not saying that he’s completely wrong.  Most of what he says makes a lot of sense.  I get what he is saying about metabolic health, at the cellular level.  I understand the science.  We do need carbs, salt, sleep.  We probably don’t need as much water as society tells us we need.  Maybe there are other ways to exercise that are easier on our body.  But I really take issue with “eat whatever you want”.  It’s not that simple.

Then I started second guessing myself.  What if it is that simple??  As I began to get tired of cooking, tired of restricting food, I thought maybe we would test his little theory.  We brought back grains, potatoes.  We eat cake and ice cream at parties (and sometimes in between).  We ate whatever we wanted on vacation.  We get frozen pizzas.  Very non-GAPS!

The result of all this “just eating the food”?  My body temperature has not gone up.  Not one iota.  My joints hurt.  I’ve gained over 10 pounds.  I’m tired.  I think it’s not that simple.

So here we are, in a no man’s land of sorts, trying to sift through a whole lot of conflicting information.  Almost all of it makes perfect sense in theory.  But in practice, for me, it doesn’t seem to work.  My body does not approve.  Even though I have many of the symptoms of an out of whack metabolism, “just eating the food” isn’t helping.  I’m obviously missing something here.  I’m going to keep digging, try to find out what my body needs (or doesn’t need) to be happy again.

 

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