The Truth About Legumes

Cavemen didn’t eat beans. Right?

If you are familiar with the “Paleo Diet,” you are aware that legumes are certainly not on the menu. The reason for the exclusion of legumes is the simple fact that legumes contain phytic acid (which blocks the absorption of some minerals) and lectins (which damage the small intestine). Seems legit, right?

Well, what if I were to tell you that there are several foods that are embraced by the Paleo community that contain far more levels of one or both of these “harmful substances” than do legumes?

One perfect example is nuts. Many nuts contain greater levels of phytic acid than legumes, yet paleo followers gladly pop handfuls of almonds into their mouths without thinking twice. Why is this acceptable while enjoying a small serving of pinto beans in my burrito bowl is frowned upon?

One thing that is becoming increasingly obvious to me about the paleo diet is that the “spokes people” of the lifestyle (Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, etc.) as well as many other followers will do whatever they can do back up the “story” of the paleo diet (not trying to point fingers! These people are wonderful and offer some great info, too!). You know, the whole “only eat what was available to our ancient ancestors before agriculture” story. This sounds great at first, but can be extremely harmful when science and current research that contradicts the diet is ignored, simply because it doesn’t follow the storyline.

A great article about legumes by Chris Kresser goes into more detail about whether or not legume consumption is beneficial or harmful. Here are a few key points I’ve chosen to highlight for you, just in case you don’t want to read the entire article:

To my knowledge there’s only one study demonstrating humans being harmed by consuming legumes. This is the study often used by Paleo advocates to “prove” that legumes are dangerous. However, what is often neglected is that this study described a case of food poisoning that occurred in hospital patients who ate legumes that hadn’t been cooked properly. Suggesting that we shouldn’t eat cooked legumes because raw legumes cause disease is like saying that we shouldn’t eat cooked chicken because we can get Salmonella from eating raw chicken…

In fact, cooking legumes for as little as 15 minutes or pressure-cooking them for 7.5 minutes almost completely inactivates the lectins they contain, leaving no residual lectin activity in properly cooked legumes.

The problem with telling people to avoid legumes because they contain phytic acid is that many other foods in the diet—including “Paleo-friendly” foods—contain substantially higher amounts of phytic acid than legumes. For example, a serving of trail mix, that beloved Paleo favorite, is likely to be much higher in phytic acid than a serving of lentils. Cacao beans (chocolate) have about the same amount of phytic acid as most beans. And spinach and swiss chard are higher in phytic acid than almost any legume, nut or seed!

-Chris Kresser

 

Kresser also mentions a few foods that are totally 100% “paleo” that contain higher levels of phytic acid than legumes: sesame seeds, Swiss chard, and spinach. Take what you want from the article, but I have decided that I will allow small amounts of legumes into my diet. The benefits of eating a small amount of legumes seem to outweigh any drawbacks for me personally, but you can take this information or leave it. I think that the phytic acid and lectin arguments are moot at this point.

I recently watched an interview with Abel James from The Fat Burning Man and Dr. Fuhrman who is a physician and proper nutrition advocate. The two discussed the dangers of following any specific diet and touched upon legumes, grains, and other dogmas of the paleo diet. It’s a great interview, and I suggest you watch it if you are at all interested in the subject! Here’s a link to the video.

What are your thoughts on legumes and the restrictions of the paleo diet? I’d love to hear your opinions 🙂

 

How to Make Chicken Soup from Scratch

What’s more comforting than a hot bowl of chicken soup? I’m not talking about that junk that comes in a can that claims to be healthy and hearty, I’m talking about the real deal. Homemade. Making chicken soup from scratch can sound a little intimidating, but it’s really very simple and versitile.

Check out my video to see instructions on making your own chicken soup completely from scratch. Use any combination of vegetables and seasonings you like! This is more of a method than a recipe, so adapt it to your taste.

 

 

How to Make Chicken Soup from Scratch

 

Broth Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets removed (2-4 lbs)
  • 2 hearts celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • Water to cover ingredients in pot

Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 Pot of broth
  • Shredded chicken (from broth)
  • 2-6 cups of vegetables of your choice. (Broccoli, carrots, celery, onion, spinach, kale, cauliflower, okra, green beans, mushrooms, etc.)
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp paprika)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, begin with broth ingredients. Simmer ingredients for 1.5-2 hours, or until chicken is cooked thoroughly and meat is falling off the bone.
  2. Remove chicken from pot, and strain solids from the broth.
  3. *Optional Step*Cover broth and place in fridge to cool, allowing fat to solidify and float to the top. Skim fat off top once cooled, or you can leave it. It’s up to you. If you choose to leave fat in broth, no refrigeration needed. Leave at room temperature.
  4. *Optional Step* Puree solid vegetables, giblets (bones removed), and 1-2 cups of broth. Place puree in fridge to cool if you cooled broth. If you are leaving fat in the broth, then don’t place puree in fridge because the process is going to go much faster.
  5. Separate meat from bone of chicken, shredding it with your fingers. If you wish, you may use a knife to cut chicken, but I’ve found that using my fingers is much easier and quicker.
  6. Add meat back to pot of broth, bring to boil. Add veggies and seasoning, simmer until veggies are fork tender.
  7. *Optional Step* Stir in puree mixture and allow it to come up to temperature.
  8. Enjoy!

This soup freezes well, so you can make a large batch and freeze some so that you can enjoy it over the next few weeks.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 7.37.08 AM

 

Paleo Curry?!

Wednesday 2/5/14:

Breakfast: 1 banana + 1 cup of coffee
30 min walk with dog
Strength workout: pullups, squats and burpees
Lunch: 1 sweet potato, 1 turkey burger, and one HUGE salad of baby spinach and kale
Snack: 1 orange, 2 dried figs, baby carrots
Dinner: Paleo Thai Curry Chicken with Broccoli and Cauliflower

ThaiCurry

(recipe & photo via Nom Nom Paleo – click for Thai Curry Chicken Recipe)

Thursday 2/6/14:

On Thursday we woke up and had a cup of coffee and a quick breakfast of an orange and scrambled eggs. It was pouring down rain, and poor little Roxie didn’t want to go on a walk. She stayed curled up warm and cozy in her bed all morning.

RoxieHart

Later in the day we met a few friends for lunch at Islands, which is a burger place. I ordered a chicken bowl without the sauce and rice, which turned out to be just some grilled pineapple, chicken, and broccoli. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed in my meal…the broccoli in the bowl was raw when I feel it should have been steamed. I probably wouldn’t chose to go there again, but if we do, I will order a salad just to be safe.

Since my tiny meal was not very good, when we got back to the house I gorged on almonds, walnuts and a few dried cherries. This was probably not the best idea, but oh well!

A little later in the day we went to the mall and swung by Teavana. My amazing boyfriend bought me a teapot for loose leaf tea (I finally upgraded from tea bags…yay!) and a tea blend for my birthday, so I wanted to get one more type of tea to try out (I’m working on a post about tea and coffee, and how they can fit into a paleo diet! It will be up soon!).

For dinner we got Chipotle. I’ve found that this is one of the easiest places to order paleo. I got a fajita bowl with extra veggies, double meat (chicken and steak), pico de gallo, hot salsa, and lettuce. It was delicious, and I didn’t even miss the rice and beans.

 

February 4, 2014

Today I woke up feeling extremely motivated to eat well and be productive. I had a quick cup of coffee and a banana then went for a run (about 2.5 miles). When I got back, I had another cup of coffee and another banana (I’m addicted…don’t judge me!).

For lunch I made turkey burgers with bacon and avocado on top with a side salad. Later, I had an orange and a sweet potato as a snack. As I’m writing this post, I’m realizing that I ate way too much sugar today…oops!

For dinner I decided to try out a new recipe. I’ve been trying to incorporate more salmon into my diet for the omega-3’s, but fresh salmon is so expensive that it gets unrealistic to eat it more than once a week for me. So I did a little research and found that canned salmon is almost as good as fresh salmon as far as nutritional value, so I  did a little google searching and found a recipe for salmon cakes on everydaymaven.com that I chose to try.

salmon cake

They turned out pretty good (much better than I anticipated, actually). I ended up making 10 salmon cakes; I ate 3 tonight and put the other 7 in the freezer to eat over the next week or two. I enjoyed them with some broccoli and cauliflower…the perfect dinner if you ask me! 😉

Now it’s time for me to finish up laundry and get into bed. Lately I’ve been sleeping in a little later than I would like so I want to try to start getting up a little earlier, around 7am. I’m such a morning person and am usually a lot more productive in the early hours of the day.

Day 35 of Paleo – complete!

 

January in Review

Ok, so I’ve officially made it over a month being on the paleo diet. I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it now, especially when we are just eating at home. I’ve found some amazing recipes and have really gotten used to not having any sort of grains with my meals (I used to eat bread with almost every meal).

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually have gotten somewhat used to eating out as well. I learned to start asking for the gluten-free menu and ordering from there, unless I felt like ordering salad or something a la carte. I have a slight feeling of sadness when we go to eat at Mexican restaurants and my boyfriend gets to eat the chips and salsa they bring to the table, but it quickly fades once I realize how proud I am of myself for not giving into the temptation staring at me.

Found this on the internet…thought it was pretty funny ;)

Found this on the internet…thought it was pretty funny, despite the poor grammar  😉

Although I did stick to eating paleo in January, my fitness regimen has been shoved to the side a little bit. I spent the first two weeks of the month traveling and am just now getting fully acclimated to the lifestyle back at home. James and I have been walking our dog Roxie pretty regularly for at least a mile a day, and we have been doing CrossFit workouts together a few times a week. With that being said, I realize that I haven’t been completely ignoring fitness, but I feel the strong need to crank it up a notch. My motivation: I’m a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding the first week of March, and I NEED to look my best in that dress! 😉

I’m trying to keep my fitness goals for February realistic:

Run 3 days per week – 2.5 – 3.5 miles(about every-other day)

CrossFit 2 days per week

Strength training 3 days per week: 5 rounds of: 10 pull-ups (mostly assisted), 20 squats, 10 burpees (the 5 rounds can be split up throughout the day or done all at once)

Yoga 5 days per week

For the month of February, I also want to try and check in on this blog at the end of every day with a recap on what I ate and what workout I completed. I think that will help keep me in check a little better! I would love to hear any advise you all have on creating a workout schedule that works for you, and sticking to it!

Game Day Paleo Eats!

I’m not a huge football fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Game Day. For me, the Super Bowl is typically an awesome day filled with friends, beer, and delicious food. Being paleo does mean that I had to forgo the beer (I substituted with Angry Orchard Cider), but there was still plenty of delicious Game Day food options as long as I was willing to do the research and grocery shopping. I ended up finding a great recipe on hashtagpaleo.com for buffalo wings, which I adapted to fit our party’s needs.

Basically all I did differently from the original recipe linked above was use chicken breasts instead of wings, and cooked the meat a little differently. They ended up being a huge hit…the men devoured them so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to take pictures! 😉

Buffalo Wings

Click for printable PDF version

 

This recipe would be very easy to prepare early in the morning or the night before the game, too. All you would have to do is cut the chicken and pre-season it, make the sauce, and have your coconut flour ready to go. Once everything is prepped and ready to go these “wings” cook up fairly quickly, and by the time one batch is done, the previous batch is already gone!

Price check, please!

Today, I felt a strong urge to delve into some research on nutrient density and the omega 6:omega 3 ratio ideal. So, with my morning cup of coffee in hand, I went straight to Google to answer my questions. I wound up on Chris Kresser’s website (of course) and began reading about omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, how to balance them, and the best food sources to reach the optimal balance (to read the complete article, click here).

The basic conclusion I reached from reading the article (and a few other related articles on his site), is that I need to up my salmon intake. At a recent Costco visit, my boyfriend and I bought a ton of tilapia, believing this would be a good source of omega 3 EPA and DHA. My research this morning showed that tilapia actually has higher amounts of Omega 6 than Omega 3, virtually making this effort to up Omega 3s in our diet pointless. So, I decided the best way to reach a balance in our diets between these fatty acid chains is to up our salmon intake.

It’s no secret that salmon can get pricey, even when buying in bulk. Through a bit of research, I’ve determined that for us, the health benefits of eating wild Alaskan canned salmon is much better than not having salmon in our diets at all. So, I began calling grocery stores for price checks on canned salmon to determine the best place to buy it.

By far, the cheapest place I found to purchase canned salmon is at Trader Joe’s (the price they gave me is $3.79 for 14.7oz can). This is compared to the horrendous price at Whole Foods of $6.99 for 6oz. No thanks!

Next, I began calling grocery stores about organ meat. I’ve heard a lot of great things about organ meat (especially liver) from a variety of sources, including The Paleo View podcast and Chris Kresser’s website once again. Organ meats are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and it is highly encouraged that everyone consume them at least a few times per week. I would have them ground and mix it in with other ground meat to make burgers or pasta sauce, so neither my boyfriend nor I would even notice they were there.

The best prices I found for organ meats are as follows:

The Nugget Market (a local grocery store): $1.59/lb Beef Heart

Whole Foods: Pasture raised beef liver- $4.99/lb ; free range chicken liver- $3.69/lb.

I’m going to do a bit of pre-grocery shop planning this week to figure out the best menu plan and grocery list for us. I plan on doing some research on the most nutrient dense produce and their peak seasons, as well as scour the local ads for sales on meat and seafood. Salmon will definitely be on the shopping list!

Organ Meat