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I hear people say they get bored with a no-sugar no-grain way of life. There may be many reasons for that, and whole studies have been done on the topic of variety in diet. I became aware of a principle many years ago called “variety satiety.” If you’re old enough to remember the slogan “there’s always room for jell-o” you, you heard this from advertising without even knowing it. It’s the phenomenon of feeling full from a meal, but suddenly being hungry when a dessert comes out. Or, saying you can’t eat another bite of potato, but that roll from the breadbasket is no problem. Jello may seem innocuous to us (it’s sugary, so it’s not) but we know very well those times when we say “there’s always room for ICE CREAM.”

Fruit under it, fruit on it. must be healthy!

Fruit under it, fruit on it. must be healthy!

Most of the world eats the same few things regularly. We’re living in an artificial, many would say unsustainable, world of variety. And let’s be honest, the vast majority of it is just re-done processed carbs. So when we think we’re eating variety, all those variations from the majority of the grocery aisles really comes down to sugars, grains, seed oils, with varying degrees of artificial flavors. If you haven’t read Fast Food Nation yet, definitely check it out. The in-depth study of the flavor market and the small area of NJ that produces it all, is quite eye-opening.

Switching to real food, whether full-on paleo, low-carb, vegan, you make a philosophical decision to enjoy the essence of real food. You don’t need artificial additives. You don’t need a million flavors of novelty. Nature provides plenty.

When  people ask me what I eat, right now I am in the early months of commitment to this way. So my palate may look boring, and I intend on expanding it constantly. Being a natural food lover is becoming a foodie of a particular sort. It definitely can get expensive, as my indulgent trip to Wegman’s last month was, but it absolutely does not have to be.

But as Vinnie Tortorich says, put life into living. Indulge sometimes. I’ll write more deeply on redefining moderation another day. For now, I can already say that indulgence can be done keeping your dietary principles. You shouldn’t make a habit of having paleo baked goods every day, that goes against the whole philosophy of paleo really. Angelo Coppola of Latest in Paleo mentions this a lot. You can’t rely on almond meal, coconut oil and nut butters as staples.

So what follows is intended as a special occasion dinner, not an every day event.

Meghan and I are becoming less interested in forced Hallmark-driven holidays. With V-day being a weeknight, we just planned to be home with the kids anyway, so this was a family meal. I wanted the kids to have some part in preparing it. I’m still deep into Joel Salatin’s Folks This Ain’t Normal, and every page leaves me wanting to jump up and make them go do something.

So here’s the menu.

Appetizer

Grilled Proscuitto Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese

This is one of the greatest things I have ever eaten. The figs are not the best idea for a guy trying to stay in ketosis, but there is no reason to avoid a dish like this for anyone.

Main Dish

Shrimp baked in Mornay Sauce

This has been a Valentine’s Day staple since I first made it for Meghan in our first year married. I use the recipe from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook. half and half, chicken stock, swiss cheese, parmesan cheese, egg yolk. I replaced the bit of flour with almond meal.

Side dishes

Steamed Asparagus with Local Grass-Fed Butter

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower with Local Grass-Fed Butter

This is easy to make. One head of cauliflower chopped up, boiled for 12-15 minutes. Put it in a solid blender with 8 tbsps butter, and some garlic. I minced three big cloves, but that was too much even for me. Add some good salt and pepper. A high fat cheddar cheese would go well with it, but we had a cheese sauce already.

Dessert

This one came from Paleo Living Magazine, which I just subscribed to on the iPad. The Valentine’s Day bonus issue includes chocolate dipped bacon roses, which I may have done if not for the proscuitto in the appetizer.

So I went with the baked option.

Chocolate brownie bites

I won’t publish their recipe, but here’s a picture of what went in it, besides a pinch of salt and baking soda.

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My magic bullet turned the raw nibs into cocoa powder in a few seconds. I found them at the Natural Food and Garden Store in Lewisburg. No, it is not an inexpensive alternative to cocoa powder. But considering how rarely I plan to bake with it, it’s not bad.

The kids love to stir things.

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I made a batch in mini-muffin pans as the original recipe called for, then we made a batch in a pan appropriate for the occasion.

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Top with some real cream, whipped on the spot, and you have a tasty treat with no sugar, no grains, and just as important: no synthetic sweeteners. Real stevia. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT fall for the marketing of Truvia or PureVia. They are complete sham products. You can read about the lie here and here. Bottom line: one is made by coke, the other by pepsi. They are 99.5% NOT stevia.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the real thing.

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Time well spent, I would say.

Of course, if you gave up sugar for Lent and wanted to do it the easy way, I suppose technically you could consume something like this….

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But if you do, please do a favor to the proper use of the English language and do not in any way refer to it as food. Show some respect to linguistic truth. Better yet, show some respect to yourself and avoid it altogether.

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5 thoughts on “Some Recipes for a Very Paleo Valentine’s Day

  1. Thank you for providing some of what you do eat – as someone who is new to this train of thought I am just learning all the ins and outs. It certainly gives some perspective to see a whole meal thought out in this way.

    • I hope to provide a more typical a for you soon, Sue. This was an indulgent dinner. On a egular day, I start with two or three slices of thick bacon, from my local butcher if I can get it, then use the bacon at to sautee garlic, onion, red pepper and mushrooms, adding in spinach at the end. Then i do four egg yolks with one or two whites. Fnish it off and top with full fat feta cheese. By conventional wisdom I should be exploding of heart disease. But take out the usual carbs from breakfast, and it’s a whole other paradigm. For non-bacon lovers, grassfed butter or coconut oil for the eggs. Grassfed is preferable because cornfed beef produce highly omega6 rich fat. This is a key opint in paleo philosophy. Modern research on heart disease and fat consumption has not differentiated the cornfed feedlot meat from traditional grassfed. There is a world of difference. So without going to a full lowarb way like mine, I’d encourage everyone to follow the wisdom I hear agreed upon across the board: eliminate grains, sugars, and seed oils.

  2. You mentioned that we can’t rely on coconut oil, what have you read/seen about coconut oil? Because I read a book that made me switch to coconut oil. But I try to incorporate fat into my diet too, like salmon etc. but I’m curious what is it I don’t know about coconut oil? Thanks so much, awesome blog!

    • By not relying on it, I mean, and Angelo goes into this better than I can….. That it is certainly a good source of the right kinds of fats. It’s referred to by many as the poor man’s MCT oil, as it is 70% mct. (Medium chain triglyceride.) so using it to replace seed oils and trans fats is great. Using it to prepare other whole foods is great. But my brownie bites of almond flour, coconut oil, stevia and cocoa nibs are an occasional treat. Whole foods should be primary staples. One of the principles of lowcarb eating is that calorie counting is mot mecessary, or terribly relevant for two reasons: first, the first law of thermodynamics is not all there is at play in digestion. The second reason is that yes, total calories still matter to a degree, but if you eat lowcarb, you almost can’t overeat. But this is “almost.” Especially those of us who have fallen prey to habitual eating or non-hunger-based eating, still need to watch total intake. We find that meats and green vegetables curb total intake and satisfy us. But if we would lean too heavily on certain paleo-friendly, helpful fats like nuts and coconut oil, we run the risk of low satiety and overeating. That’s what I mean. Even if olive oil, coconut oil, and other omega3 rich oils are ancient pre-industrial oils that we could produce without machinery, and are vastly superior to modern seed oils that only exist from technology, poisoning us with high omega 6 ratios, we can still overdo it on the good stuff. Hope that helps. I love the stuff. I’m all about it.

      • I also use butter. usually I just use these things to utter garlic, onion, and make eggs. My coconut oil only has a scoop in it that measures 1 teaspoon. Also Yes to cocoa nibs, I eat them raw but very sparingly, like one pinch at a time, or half a teaspoon.

        I feel pretty confident that my portions of these foods are under control.

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