Growing up in the south has instilled some deep southern culture in me. I say y’all, wear flip flops pretty much in any season, & love some hearty comfort food. For example, the quintessential southern dish, Shrimp & Grits, has been my favorite favorite dish ever since I learned to love grits.
Thought about going paleo, but love pasta too much? Chicken Parm is your favorite comfort food, & not ready to give it up? Well, I’ve got you covered!
I made this dish the other night and John said “If you ever wonder why I keep you around, THIS! Best comfort food ever right here!”
Of course, my husband loves me for more than my cooking, but that’s always an added bonus. 🙂
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In the mean time, stay optimistic!
What is paleo?
Many people hear paleo and think ‘Oh! The paleo diet! That means you eat like the cavemen ate, right?’ Well, sort of. Now take that idea, add in some 21st century appliances, and better hygiene, and you’re getting closer to the premise of Paleo. I loathe anything that refers to how you eat or how you live as a diet. I feel that the word ‘diet’ implicates a quick fix, a fad ‘diet’, or something that will only be followed for x amount of time. For me and my family, Paleo is a lifestyle, and it’s not a fad for us. My soon to be husband has Crohn’s Disease, and he/we has/have found that being gluten and dairy free as well as avoiding refined sugar and processed foods helps him keep flair ups at bay. In the most basic version of a half-a$$ed explanation of ‘what is paleo’ that sort of sums it up. However, no one explains it better than The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, so here comes HER EXPLANATION (I straight copied and pasted with the source below, don’t get mad at me! 😛 ) :
The Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.
How can the Paleo diet improve health?
Clinical trials demonstrate that a Paleo diet improves cardiovascular disease risk factors, reduces inflammation, improves glucose tolerance, helps with weight loss and can even improve autoimmune disease.
By focusing on the most nutrient-dense foods available and by eliminating foods that can contribute to hormone dysregulation, inflammation, and gut dysbiosis (where the bacteria in your gut are the wrong kinds, wrong diversity, wrong numbers, and/or in the wrong part of the gastrointestinal tract), a Paleo diet can improve a vast array of health conditions. It’s also great for weight normalization, meaning that overweight people tend to lose weight but underweight people tend to gain weight.
The Paleo diet provides the foundation for a healthy digestive system. It supports healthy growth of a diversity of probiotic bacteria in the gut through its focus on prebiotic and probiotic foods and through its avoidance of foods that contribute to gut dysbiosis (where the bacteria in your gut are the wrong kinds, wrong diversity, wrong numbers, and/or in the wrong part of the gastrointestinal tract). It supports the health of the tissues that form the gut barrier by supplying essential nutrients required for gut barrier integrity and by avoiding foods that are inherently difficult to digest, are known to irritate or damage the tissues that form the gut barrier, or that are known to stimulate the immune system.
The Paleo diet reduces inflammation and supports normal functioning of the immune system. Foods that are inherently inflammatory are avoided, removing this unnecessary stimulus for increased inflammation. By providing the essential nutrients that the immune system requires to regulate itself, an overactive immune system can be modulated. By providing the essential nutrients that the immune system needs to function optimally, a suppressed immune system can recover.
The Paleo diet supports liver detoxification systems by supporting gut health and by providing the essential nutrients that the liver needs to performs its functions. The Paleo diet supports hormone regulation by focusing on foods that contain the nutrients required for hormone balance and avoiding foods known to stimulate or suppress vital hormone systems. Because providing the body with the essential nutrients that it needs to be healthy forms the basis of the Paleo diet, every system in the human body is positively affected by this approach to food.
A diet that’s not a Diet
The Paleo diet is also the first time a set of diet principles has been compiled using modern scientific health and nutrition research. While the initial insight leading to the Paleo diet was gleaned from studies of Paleolithic man and both modern and historically-studied hunter-gatherers, the core support for this way of eating comes from contemporary biology, physiology, and biochemistry. There are thousands of scientific studies that each evaluate how components in foods interact with the human body to promote or undermine health. These are the studies used to form the basic tenets of the Paleo diet.
There are no hard and fast rules about when to eat, how much protein versus fat versus carbohydrates to eat, and there’s even some foods (like high quality dairy and potatoes) which some people choose to include in their diets whereas others do not. This means that’s there’s room to experiment so you can figure out not just what makes you healthiest but also what makes you happiest and fits into your schedule and budget.
Best of all, the Paleo diet is not a diet in the sense of some hard thing that you do that requires a great deal of willpower and self-deprivation until you reach some goal. It’s a way of life. Because the focus is long-term health, the Paleo diet allows for imperfection but educates you so that you can make the best choices possible.
Sustainability is an important tenet of the Paleo diet, meaning that this is a way of eating and living that you can commit to and maintain for your entire life. This means that you have the flexibility to experiment with your own body to discover what is optimal versus what is tolerable, to find what works best for you and fits into your life for the long term. For some people, flexibility is achieved by following an 80/20 rule (or a 90/10) rule, which means that 80% (or 90%) of your diet are healthy Paleo foods and the other 20% (or 10%) are not. Many people find that they are healthiest when their 20% (or 10%) continues to avoid the most inflammatory foods such as wheat, soy, peanuts, pasteurized industrially-produced dairy, and processed food chemicals.
What foods are eliminated?
The foods that are eliminated in a Paleo diet are the ones that provide our bodies with very little nutrition (especially for the amount of energy they contain), and that are difficult to digest (which can cause gut health problems and contribute to gut dysbiosis), and have the ability to stimulate inflammation or mess around with important hormones.
Generally, a Paleo diet excludes:
- grains and pseudograins
- legumes (legumes with edible pods like green beans are fine)
- dairy (especially pasteurized industrially-produced)
- refined and processed foods (including refined seed oils like canola oil and safflower oil, refined sugars, and chemical additives and preservatives)
There are many foods that can be additionally problematic, especially for those with chronic health conditions, typically referred to as “gray-area” foods (see the Autoimmune Protocol).
There are also many foods that might be tolerated and reintroduced to your diet after an elimination phase. This is generally referred to as the “shades of Paleo”. Some people enjoy white rice in their diets. Others include good quality (i.e., grass-fed) dairy is generally considered fine to include with the caveat that a large percentage of people are sensitive or intolerant (and might not know it). The best way to know whether or not these foods work for you is to cut them out completely for a few weeks and then reintroduce one at a time and see how you feel.
Visit her blog for more resources and explanations backed by science! She’s my go to when I need help understanding any aspects of this lifestyle.
Now some background about my blog!
How I came up with the name: Paleoptimistic
John and I turned to a paleo lifestyle, optimistically looking for an answer to keeping his flair ups at bay. The two words shared an ‘o’ and I smashed them together. Kinda catchy right?? We also try to carry out our daily lives with a certain level of optimism; similar to my favorite flower, the sunflower, and how they always point their faces towards the sun, following the sunshine… We too, continue to follow the sunshine when times get tough, or when flair ups set in. Plus, when you eat real food, good food, flavorful food, you tend to be happier and better fueled to take on anything & everything that life throws your way! 🙂
Yours in sunshine…
My first attempt at peeling, cutting up, and frying plantains was a big ole whopping fail. The skin wouldn’t come off for me, and I overcooked them… essentially making them like pieces of bark, not even chips. This past week I saw some at Harris Teeter and said to myself ‘Hey, why not try these again?! I’m no quitter!’ Well, I’m so glad I did, because this attempt was a WIN! Continue reading “Plantains: How To & a Recipe Round-Up”
Happy [belated] Birthday to the lovely United States of America!! I hope everyone had a safe and happy fourth! Thank you to all the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. Let us commence the celebratory lounging and cooking out! Continue reading “A Paleo 4th of July! Kabobs and Grilled Peaches”
I love shrimp. So much so that I think Bubba, Forrest, and I would have been the coolest shrimp slingin’ Wolfpack to ever be.
You get the idea.
That being said, I was super excited when shrimp was on sale at the store, which is what brought about this recipe. Shrimps. And wine. I also love wine. (Which is why this is a ‘partially Paleo’ recipe. Don’t go callin the Paleo Police cuz I love wine. I’m not sorry about that. 😉
PARTIALLY PALEO SHRIMP SCAMPI/ALFREDO
1 medium sized acorn squash, roasted and puréed.
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 cup white wine (I used a nice Sauvignon Blanc, you can omit this if you want to be a better cave-person than I am. Sub it out by using the entire can of coconut milk and 1/4 cup lemon juice)
1 pint grape tomatoes, whole
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2/3 cup basil, fresh, chopped
Asparagus, diced. (Use as much as you’d like. I used one entire bundle)
1 TBS red pepper flakes (if you can’t handle the heat, edit or omit)
1 TBS onion powder
2 tsp parsley flakes
2 tsp oregano flakes
4 TBS ghee or coconut oil
(1 medium spaghetti squash or 1 head of cauliflower, riced)
What to do:
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice and remove seeds of acorn squash, (I cut mine into 1 inch thick slices which helped expedite the roasting process) bake for 20 min.
- Slice and remove seeds of spaghetti squash (if you chose to use it) and place in oven with acorn squash. Bake for 25-30 min.
- In a saucepan, bring coconut cream (the thick white stuff in the can of coconut milk) to a boil. Add spices and garlic.
- Peel skin off of acorn squash and add to the coconut cream. Reduce heat to simmer and with and immersion blender, blend until smooth.
- Remove spaghetti squash strands from skin and set to the side.
- Add grape tomatoes and wine to sauce. Continue to simmer.
- While sauce simmers, take your cauli rice or spaghetti squash strands, as well as your diced asparagus, in a large hot skillet with 4 TBS ghee/coconut oil and sautée.
- Once a nice sautée is reached, add sauce and shrimp to skillet. Reduce heat to medium heat and cover. Cook until shrimp are opaque and no longer grey.
- ENJOY! && Make sure you smash the tomatoes!!
This is by far one of my favorite dishes I’ve made, to date! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
On April 20th, we started our 2nd round of The 21 Day Sugar Detox. It’s a lot easier this time now that I have kept up with the original routine of prepping foods for the week, and since we generally eat VERY low sugar Paleo, it’s been a breeze and I haven’t missed much. Continue reading “This Week’s Menu Planning 4/25-5/1”
Like 95% of the human population, I am a zombie until I’ve had my morning coffee. Some nights I go to bed dreaming of my morning cup of french press Cafe Bustelo, black…. I may have a slight problem. I also enjoy cappuccinos, but after giving up dairy, I haven’t been able to have one… until I came across this ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ goodness.
Are you interested in amping up your coffee game in the morning? Maybe saving some money and not going to the infamous Coffee Shop every morning on your way to work? Are you dairy-free and looking for a cappuccino substitute?
That’s what I’m here for–To help you hack your morning cup ‘o joe and rev up your home brewed coffee by making it ‘Bulletproof’! Continue reading “Bulletproof Coffee ‘Meltaways’… & something for the fur-kids”
Personally, I think bell peppers are the most inventive vessel for dirty ‘rice’, ever, in the history of mankind. Ok, maybe I’m over exaggerating with that, but they’re pretty awesome! It’s like a cute little edible bowl! Typically, you see recipes of stuffed peppers including white or brown rice or quinoa, but as we all know, rice isn’t Paleo and cutting it out just leaves something to be desired in this recipe. A great replacement is the wonderful cauliflower rice! Grab a head of cauliflower, chop it into florets, then run them thru your food processor with the ricer blade. OR, if you’re like me and don’t have a food processor yet, but do have a slap chop, slap chop away until the pieces are small and resemble rice! 😁 now that we’ve established how to get our ‘rice’ prepped, you probably want the recipe, huh?
Paleo Stuffed Peppers (makes enough for 4-6 servings plus extra filling)
What you need:
3 large red bell peppers, halved, ribs & seeds removed
1 head cauliflower, riced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 lb ground bison (or beef of choice)
3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBS cumin
1/2 TBS paprika
1 tsp cayenne/red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 TBS coconut oil or ghee
Chipotle Mayo (for garnish)
What to do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Melt 2 TBS coconut oil or ghee in a medium skillet. Cook cauli rice until tender. Turn burner off once rice is cooked.
- In a separate large skillet, melt the other 2 TBS oil of choice and sauté the vegetables. Once veggies are 3/4 way sautéed, add your ground meat of choice and cook until no pink remains. Once meat is cooked, add spices, then rice. Combine well.
- In a 9×13 baking dish, lay parchment paper on the bottom and arrange the red peppers open side up.
- Add the beaten eggs to the rice veggie and meat concoction and stir in until you can no longer see the egg. Be careful that the mixture is not too hot so that the eggs cook in the skillet- they will cook in the oven!
- Stuff the peppers!
- Next, place your stuffed peppers in the oven and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the peppers are soft.
- Allow to cool before serving. Top with chipotle mayo and mangia!
We ate ours with a side of paprika lime roasted sweet potatoes which were super easy and cooked right alongside the peppers! Peel and chop 2 medium sweet potatoes, throw them in a bowl, drizzle oil of choice over potatoes, add salt, pepper, paprika, and juice of half a lime. Stir to combine and coat all potatoes. Place potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes!