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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.