Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Homemade Face/Hand Cream with Calendula and Lavender Essential Oils

I was inspired to make my own face cream during a recent class on herbal medicine. Our lecturer brought in a batch of amazingly fragrant and soothing cream and I got to thinking about how amazing it would be to make my own batch. Wonderfully moisturising cream but without all the preservatives and chemicals which are added to other expensive products. I do like coconut oil and I think it has incredible benefits but being a saturated fat, it is always solid - I find it difficult to get it to spread enough on my face and even then it can be quite greasy.

It also find the use of essential oils fascinating too - they really do have such powerful medicinal effects on the body and I think we have forgotten how useful they can be.

Today I decided to use calendula as it is a wonderful healing oil making it ideal for any breakouts or inflammed skin. This means it is great for skin which is prone to breakouts or eczema. Calendula is also a wonderful healing cream and is commonly used on infants for nappy rash. It also has antiseptic properties.

I also decided to include lavender oil as I plan on using this particular cream at night going to bed. I hope the lavender oil will allow we to unwind and go to sleep peacefully! Lavender oil also has many other lesser known benefits such as a first aid treatment for minor burns and cuts, dandruff, the treatment of nausea, and cold sores. It also has a nice scent.

To make the cream:

1/2 cup almond oil (you can use olive oil)
2 tbsp calendula oil
8 drops of lavender oil
2 tbsp beeswax (broken into small pieces)
140ml of warm water (it must be warm to allow the emulsification to take place properly, if it is too cold or too hot it will not work)

Place a bowl over some boiling water in a saucepan (in much the same way as you would melt chocolate)
Add your oil and your beeswax and mix over a simmer until the beeswax has completely melted into the oil

Remove your bowl from the heat. Add your calendula and lavender oils now.
Moving quickly (so as not to allow your oil to cool to quickly), place a handheld blender into your bowl and blend. While doing so slowly add your warm water, blending all the time. It is important that you do this slowly. You are forming an emulsion so you must incorporate little by little.

The mixture will emulsify quickly. Continue to whisk until all the water is added and the mixture begins to thicken. You may have to scrape the bowl down once or twice.

Do not over mix or you will make a butter like mixture. Keep an eye on the consistency and stop when it is to your preference.

Pour into jars and leave uncovered until cooled.

Store in the fridge until required. Keep a small amount out for using now but use within 30 days. Keep an eye on the cream for signs of going off.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Harmful Effects of Sugar: Why You Should Avoid It At All Costs

Forget Fat. We have been brainwashed into thinking the root of all evil and the cause of all illness is fat. We couldn't be more wrong. Introducing sugar - the most harmful food being eaten today. 

Sugar is everywhere. It is more than the white substance you store in a bowl and add to your tea. It is in so many different forms - table sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose  and honey - and it all affects the body in the same ways. 

The problem is we are also consuming more sugar than ever before - alot of it in hidden forms. The average Irish person consumes 238 teaspoons of sugar every week - often without being aware of it. I often hear people exclaim "But I don't have sugar in my tea" but sugar is in foods we might not even be aware of. 

The Hidden Sugar

Many people do not realise how much sugar is in their foods. The following is the amount of sugar in some popular foods: 

Can of Coke - 10 tsp
Mars Bar - 11 tsp 
Chocolate Milkshake - 13.5 tsp

Even "healthy" foods can have surprising amounts:

Yoplait Strawberry yogurt - 5 tsp
Granola Bar - 2tsp 

Refined sugar offers us zero nutrients - that is zero protein, zero fat and zero vitamins or minerals. In fact it is creates a nutrient deficit as our body actually robs nutrients from the body in order to process refined sugars in the body. Nutrients like potassium, calcium and sodium are robbed from your healthy cells meaning you are putting yourself at greater risk of osteoporosis. 

Sugar consumption also puts us at risk of developing diseases such as diabetes. High intakes of sugar leads to increased production of insulin (a hormone produced by the pancreas to help bring sugar into cells). Over production of insulin can lead to our cells becoming overworked and overstimulated - putting us at risk of diabetes. Diabetes is a life long illness and nothing to be sneezed at. Many people die every year from complications relating to diabetes.

Sugar also increases inflammation in the body. Inflammation is like a kindled fire. Normal inflammation is an important part of our bodies natural defence strategy and is important if we injure ourselves for example. Inflammation becomes an issue when it is persistent or chronic. It can contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or dementia.

Sugar also contributes to imbalanced gut flora as it feeds bad bacteria. Gut flora is incredibly important for immune function and brain health.  

Sugar has been found to be as addictive as cocaine with it's chemical makeup being very similar to this other addictive white substance. 

It is also known to lower immunity substantially. Always sick? Your daily sugar intake may be contributing! 

Everything in Moderation
We all hear this mantra every day. But when it comes to sugar, there really is no safe amount. We should avoid it at all costs. Sugar should not form a part of your daily diet. 

Three Ways To Avoid Sugar

1. Read your labels: Know your sugar. If there is glucose, fructose corn syrup, maltose, sucrose or any of the other sugar derivatives in it - avoid it. Find a healthier alternative. Also worth noting is that the higher a food is up the list of ingredients, the more there is in it. (The first food is the most plentiful) Avoid if it in the first three ingredients. 

2. Ban Sugary Drinks: Soft drinks are laden with sugar. This also includes fruit juice which is high in fructose. Replace soft drinks with water and eat the whole fruit instead of their juices. 

3. Avoid Processed Food and Baked Goods - These foods contain more sugar than you realise. Manufacturers know we love sugar so they pack loads of it into their foods to make it taste nice and to encourage us to eat more of it. Our taste buds have been over sensitized to sugar and we now can't taste the natural sweetness of fruits. Cut these bad foods out of your diet and eat natural sugar in fruit form instead (2-3 portions a day, choose berries, apples or pineapple as they are lower in sugars than many others) 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Five Easy Ways To Boost Your Immunity This Winter

Autumn is most definitely here. There has been a noticeable change in the weather and it has been a lot chiller in the past few days.

With the colder weather comes the inevitable cold and flu season complete with the unenviable red swollen nose! 

Follow these 5 tips to boost your immune system and ensure you don't succumb to the sniffles this cold and flu season! 

1.   Eat Fermented Foods 

A huge portion of your body's immunity is in your gut. There is a delicate balance between the "good" bacteria and the "bad" guys with many factors impacting the ratios. These include stress, diet, genetics and medication. An imbalance or dysbiosis can contribute to poor absorption of nutrients and a compromised immunity. It is therefore vital that we eat fermented foods to ensure we get a good intake of healthy bacteria. Fermented foods include kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut. All can be purchased in a good health food shop or made quite easily at home. If fermented foods really is not your thing take a good probiotic supplement instead with as many bacteria strains as possible.

Get a better gut and be better prepared for fighting off those ailments! Find out how to make sauerkraut here

2. Eat The Rainbow
Colourful fruit and vegetables contain important nutrients and anti-oxidants which are very important to improving immune health such as Vitamin C and Zinc. The more colourful your food, the more different anti-oxidants you take in, so try to pack as many as you can into your meals. Why not try a tasty rainbow salad with tri-colour peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, red onion, rocket and avocado?

3. Vitamin D
Studies show that a great portion of those living in the Northern Hemisphere are lacking in Vitamin D. Whilst our bodies can manufacture Vitamin D from sun exposure, shorter days and lower sun height mean we cannot make the levels required for proper immune function. Take a good Vitamin D supplement providing around 1000IU during the winter months to ensure you get adequate levels and don't forget the kids too! Look for an oil based supplement and take with food to ensure good absorption.

4. Get Plenty Of Sleep 
Sleep plays a vital part in ensuring we stay fit and healthy. Sleep deprivation suppresses the bodies natural immune function and increases inflammation. This all means that the more late nights you pull, the less likely your body is to fight off cold and flu. Not only does it affect how often we catch a cold, it also affects how quickly we get over an illness when we get one.
So get enough kip! Aim for 8 hours sleep each night.

5. Drink Bone Broth 
Homemade bone broth has been used by different cultures through history as a way to build immunity and fight off illness. Bone broth is made by simmering bones slowly, in doing so breaking down bones and collagen. Doing so allows the bone marrow to release minerals, proteins and fats - which are all benefital and healing to the body. Collagen present in the broth also benefits the digestion and is absorbed quickly and easily. Most importantly bone broth also helps to improve the immune system by carrying oxygen to blood cells in the body.
So use that chicken carcass this weekend and make some bone broth, it really couldn't be easier!

I hope this helps you all fend off those colds!


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

IPG 100% Paleo Protocol Challenge Shopping List & Suggested Meal Plan

I hope you are all well and looking forward to our January challenge as much as I am! We are coming to the end of the Christmas season so there are only a handful of days left to indulge. Don't go too crazy though! The more junk you eat the harder you will fall over the next few days so keep the treats to a moderate level! 

At this point you should have started to think ahead to the challenge itself and I hope you have started to eliminate the junk foods from the house! Do try to get rid of it all, it will make things alot easier for you in the coming days. 

The following is a list of items I make sure I buy every week or that I have in my cupboard. They are not set in stone - if you do not like something such as a fruit on the list, substitute it for something you prefer for example but try to keep roughly within it. The most important thing is to have foods which are easy to prepare and plenty of snack ideas. 

Fruit is permitted but do not eat more than 2 pieces a day, and always with protein to stabilize blood sugar and prevent dips in energy. 

Fresh Protein (from a butcher or quality supermarket. Buy the best quality you can afford)
Fish (wild salmon, mackerel, cod, shellfish)
Chicken (the cheaper cuts are often the tastiest - a good way to save money but make tasty meals)
Bacon - as good a quality as you can get. 

Other protein: Eggs! Dont forget the eggs! 

Fresh Fruit & Veg 
Green vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
Other fresh vegetables such as salad greens of choice (rocket, watercress etc - NB for packed salads), carrots, green beans (allowed as mostly green rather than legume, a handy freezer item), peppers, onions, beetroot, tomato, mushroom
Fruits of preference especially berries. Variety is key. 
"White potato replacements" - Because white potatoes are not permitted on this 30 day challenge you will need replacements. The most important are cauliflower (which we can steam and blend with salt, pepper and ghee to make "mash") and sweet potato which is versatile and is delicious steamed and mashed or roasted. 

Fats are an important source of energy and help to keep you fuller for longer. It is VERY important to add them to every meal, particularly at the beginning. One of the biggest reasons people fail on Paleo in the beginning is their failure to add fat. You have to eat fat to burn fat. Forget the myths and trust me. Eat fat and you will suffer less and will loose weight, I promise. 
Stock up on coconut oil (supermarket, health food shop) olive oil, cold pressed oils (flax, walnut oil for salads only, not for cooking) avocados for salads or other meals, nuts and seeds, 

Store Cupboard Essentials 
Coconut Milk (choose organic with just coconut milk, no stabilizers)
Spices such as turmeric, chilli powder etc to make meals more exciting

Here are three days of meals as suggestions:

Day 1: 
Breakfast: 3 x eggs scrambled in ghee with sauteed mushroom and rocket 

Snack: Handful of raw almonds and apple

Lunch: Tinned Mackerel in Olive Oil (John West do a nice tinned one) with salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced peppers, red onion, and lemon and olive oil dressing (do not dress the leaves until serving) 

Snack: Homemade guacamole (blend a ripe avocado, half a red chilli, garlic clove, tbsp of red onion and salt and pepper until smooth) with vegetables 

Dinner:  Coconut Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry (Recipe) Serve with cauliflower rice (steamed and blitzed until rice like) and steamed broccoli *(Make extra for leftovers)

Day 2: 

BF: Paleo Porridge (Check out recipe here on my friend's Olivia's page) with blueberries 
Snack: Strawberries, banana slices and ground flaxseeds 
Lunch: Leftover Coconut Chicken Curry 
Snack: Apple Slices with organic almond butter 
Dinner: Organic beef burger served with portebello mushroom and sweet potato fries with side salad

Day 3: Bacon & Egg Crustless Quiches (Can be made night before) 
(In a pan, sautee onion, garlic, mushroom and spinach in a little ghee until soft. In a muffin tray place raw pieces of streaky bacon along inside of each muffin cup. Combine the stir fried vegetables with 3 beaten eggs and pour into the muffin cups. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes for until eggs are cooked through and the bacon is cooked) 
Snack: Banana and handful of walnuts
Lunch: Chicken Tikka Salad with baby spinach leaves, peppers, tomato, cucumber, avcoado slices and sesame seeds. Serve with a herby olive oil dressing. 
Apple and almond butter
Dinner: Roast Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Butternut squash and sweet potato (recipe) 

Preparation is key. There is no excuse for not being organised! 

I hope this helps! Any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on 


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The IPG January 100% Paleo Protocol - Join Us!

Introducing the Irish Paleo Girl (IPG) January100% Paleo Protocol

I don't know about you all but I am most definitely ready for a 100% Challenge! 
Too many nights on the town as well as indulgences we are not used to have left many of us feeling bloated, heavy and just plain sluggish.
For this reason we will be launching a brand new 30 day challenge on Wednesday next the 1st January 2014. What better way to start a brand new year than a 100% Paleo challenge: get in shape and loose those Christmas pounds!

Who is in?!

The idea behind a 100% challenge is to allow our bodies 30 days break from the main food allergens: grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and alcohol. In doing this we are allowing our guts to heal, reducing inflammation, beating sugar cravings and identifying possible triggers and allergens. 

The reason we do it 100% for 30 days is to allow our bodies to heal but also to allow us to beat lingering habits such as sugar cravings (which many of us may experience due to festive indulgences). It usually takes 30 days to break a habit and takes this time for inflammation to be reduced. 

Just a note that during this 30 days we will be eliminating all types of sugars including honey, maple syrup or stevia. We will not be replacing sugar or baked goods with Paleo substitutes. I believe that doing so will only impede progress and hinder the sugar detox. Afterwards we can eat some well deserved Paleo treats!

Why Do It? 
The results are amazing and really worth the effort - reduced bloating and other digestive discomfort, clearer skin,improved joint mobility, shiner hair, improved sleep quality, more energy, better bowel health and elimination and of course weight loss -  the list is endless! 

Will It Be Difficult? 
I prefer to think of it as "challenging"! Anything worth doing is a challenge right? It is sometimes tough, particularly if you have never done Paleo before or if you currently eat a lot of sugar or refined carbs. But it is like beating any addiction, the first few days are the toughest but it does get better. Just think about what you will get from it - and once the weight falls off and you start getting comments on how great you look it will all be worth it. 

Will I Get Withdrawl Symptoms? 
Some people do experience withdrawl symptoms. If you eat alot of sugar and refined carbohydrates you may experience some headaches or tiredness, especially around day 4 when many people feel a little tired. Do not despair, this is perfectly normal and is your body starting to move from using energy from carbs (glucose) to metabolizing fats. It also signals your body beginning to burn fat which of course will lead to weight loss for you. Try not to worry about it to much at this point - we will let you know how to deal with these symptoms when the time comes. 

How Will I Prepare For It? 
The coming days are important for preparing yourself both mentally and on a practical level for the IPG Challenge. 

Carry out the following preparation  before Wednesday night: 

  • Begin to remove non Paleo foods from the house.If you are the only person in your family doing it of course everything can't be removed. However, you should remove all sweets, crisps, cheese, chocolate, ice cream and biscuits from the house. I understand it is a difficult week with all the Christmas sweets that are probably lying around, but make sure you get rid of it all by giving it away. If you leave this food in the house it will only tempt you. Many people say "Oh it wont be in the house for me, it is for the kids" - your kids don't need this junk either. Get rid of it all together. It is far more difficult to go out and buy junk when a craving hits than it is to just reach into the cupboard or fridge. There is no point giving yourself added temptation. 
  • Begin to get rid of any "bad" fats you may have in the house such as vegetable oils, frying oil or spray fats. These fats are not good for us and the spray versions often have stabilisers and other nasties added. Bin them as soon as possible. Stock up on Kerrygold butter (which you should clarify) olive oil and coconut oil (available in good supermarkets and health food shops) Also stock up on avocados - they are often under ripe in the shop and need a couple of days to ripen. They add invaluable fat to any meal. 
  • Begin stocking up on healthy Paleo friendly snacks such as raw almonds, walnuts, fresh fruit and plenty of vegetables, as well as lean cuts of meats. Snacks will be your friend in the coming weeks. The key to success is ensuring you always have food to hand if you get hungry. Real food can be eaten at any time, there are no restrictions. (I will do a more detailed shopping list tomorrow but snacks really are crucial so bear it in mind) Portable snacks are important. 
  • Make sure you have containers for bringing packed lunches and storing leftovers in. These will become your staples! 
  • If you have time, boil some eggs and store in the fridge as snack and portable lunch ideas.
  • Get into the mindset of cooking extras in meals to bring as leftovers the next day for lunch. For those of you who find it difficult to get time to cook, this is vital for ensuring you have food ready. 
  • Start reading the recipes here on the blog as well as other great pages such as Balanced Bites, Nom Nom Paleo, The Civilised Caveman, Everyday Paleo and many more. It will give you an idea of what types of foods you can eat as well as giving you ideas ahead of time for meals. 
  • Purchase a tape measure and take your measurements at the following points: Waist (around belly button), thigh, arm (at bicep) and hips (widest part). You should use these to get your "before" measurements. I think inch loss can often be the best measurement to focus on and I really regretted not doing this when I started Paleo. It is nice to have something to base it on.
  • Take a before photo - again it is nice to have something to look at to focus your results on. When the going gets tough it will be nice to focus on how far you have already come. 
Lastly, try not to get too over whelmed. I know it seems easy to say but it really isn't as difficult as it seems. It is all about preparation and balancing your meals. We will all support each other along the way and the important thing to remember is it is possible. You are just as likely to succeed at this as I or anyone else it. The only one getting in the way of you succeeding is YOU! 

Check out my blog post on what foods to buy and also some meal ideas to start you off here

Looking forward to beginning the journey with you all.


Friday, 25 October 2013

What Exactly IS Paleo?

I have been blogging about Paleo for almost 3 years and I hope my passion for living this lifestyle comes across! 

To someone looking in from the outside it I realise it can be confusing and may not be obvious what this type of lifestyle is about. I believe more and more people are coming across the term Paleo but may be unsure about it and what it actually means!

With this in mind I have decided to write this post which I hope will answer your question - What exactly IS Paleo?

To understand what Paleo is we have to consider what it is NOT. It is not a fad diet. Rather, it is way of eating that has been around since the Paleolithic era.

Before the industrial revolution the food we ate was real, unprocessed and natural. It was based on seasonal local foods such as lean meats, fish, fruit and vegetables. Any grains were local and in their natural state - not bred to an indistinguishable hybrid version akin to modern varieties.

Chronic illness such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes were virtually unheard of and obesity was rarely seen outside royalty!

Why Paleo?
Today's modern diet is driven by greed - not just by the consumers eating this pseudo food, but the greed of the multi-national food corporations who have long since realised that the food industry is a great place to make a cheap buck, and quickly. Their goal is to pump out these food products as quickly and as cheaply as they can, while tricking consumers into thinking their food is both nutritious and delicious.
The way to make this food cheaply is to substitute quality for cheap refined ingredients where ever possible, with the biggest profits possible. After all who can get rich from real food? Anything real and unprocessed is not a luxury item in today's market, and can be produced by anyone. Fake food or food marketed by these corporations as a necessary part of daily diets can make people rich, fast.
As a result obesity, diabetes and food allergies are common place and we are sicker than ever before.

Markets today have been driven by people's desire to be thin and we have all become obsessed with fat free products. Manufacturers responded to this by removing all fat from products which enabled them to stick a "Fat Free" or "0% Fat" label on their products, meaning instant sales. But to make up for this lack of fat, they had to add in tons of sugar to make it taste nice. Healthy right?

Paleo is about REAL food. It is about eating the food we were designed to eat. What we were genetically programmed to eat. We weren't designed to thrive on donuts and pizza - real food allows us to thrive, to grow and to be healthy, fake food does not. It is the food our body craves, what it wants and NEEDS.

One common misconception about the Paleo framework is that we eat loads of meat and little else.
This is a complete myth.

Paleo is about removing refined, processed foods such as grains, vegetable oils, pasteurised dairy and sugars and replacing them with nourishing and unrefined foods such as lean meats, fish, eggs,  fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as cultured foods such as kefir and sauerkraut.

It is about returning to basics; good quality protein, plenty of fruit and vegetables and good fats such as coconut oil, nuts/seeds and avocados. We don't eat steak everyday and bacon isn't present on every plate. We concentrate on sourcing good foods and tailoring it to our preferences. Simples

The evidence is astounding. This framework works, and provides a great platform for good health. It is anti-inflammatory and nutritious and it isn't a one size fits all approach. What works for you may not work for someone else. Each body is individual and it is up to you to find out what works for you.

I really am passionate about the power of food over health. You wouldn't give your car bad fuel for years on end and expect it to run smoothly would you? Then why do it to your body?

Give your body some love. Eat Real Food. Eat Paleo

Be inspired!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Four Ways To Improve Your Digestion

We have often heard the mantra "You Are What You Eat" but in actual fact "You Are What You Absorb".
This means that we can be eating the best food but we may not be actually absorbing all the nutrients we need. 

Various things can impact on our digestion; stress, gut dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalances), low enzyme levels, food allergies or gut permeability. 

Many people may not even be aware that they have poor digestion, but they may be experiencing unexplained symptoms. 

Symptoms of Poor Digestion

  • Belching
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation/Diarrhea
  • Acne
  • Candida
  • Acid Reflux
  • Eczema, Psoriasis
  • Food Allergies
  • B12 Deficiency 
If you regularly experience 3 or more of the symptoms above, chances are you are not digesting your food correctly. 

What Can I Do About It? 
 Good digestive health is crucial to overall health and immunity. Not only does proper digestion mean you are absorbing and utilizing the most from your food, it also means you are eliminating toxins properly through frequent excretion. 

Luckily there are a few things you can do to solve these issues.

1. Chew Properly
Digestion begins in the mouth with adequate chewing. Do not underestimate the importance of proper chewing - an enzyme known as amylase is released in the mouth which begins the breakdown and digestion of carbohydrate foods (this is why carbohydrate rich foods get sweeter as you chew, the enzyme has begun to break apart its molecules). Poorly chewed or larger particles are more difficult for your body to work on further along the digestive tract and can inhibit nutrients being absorbed. If you often see undigested food in your stool you may need to focus more on this important stage. Chew your food thoroughly until the food is almost liquefied and slow down! 

2. Remove The Bad
This involves removing all the toxins which may be causing stress to the GI tract. Food itself may be the toxin so eliminating the most likely culprits wheat, dairy, sugar and soy (which a Paleo diet already does!) allows the body to break from inflammatory responses. A healthy gut can block 98% of food antigens from entering circulation, but a compromised gut lining allows these to enter causing an immune response. This can lead to the symptoms illustrated above. 
Focusing on organic meats and vegetables also decreases the toxin burden and allows the gut to heal. 

3. Replace the Good
This involves replacing enzymes and bacteria required for proper digestion. 
A number of different enzymes have been used in replacement therapies but a common one is hydrochloric acid (HcL). What most people do not realise is that LOW stomach acid and not HIGH stomach acid is associated with many of the reflux and heartburn symptoms many experience. It is particularly prevalent in those over 60 as the amount produced naturally falls in older age. Low acid can lead to poor nutrient absorption such as B12, iron and calcium. HcL can be bought in tablet form from your health store. Acidic environment can also be improved by taking apple cider vinegar 1/2 hour before meals. 
"Good bacteria" is also necessary for proper balance of bacteria in the gut. Bad diet, stress, antibiotics, medications such as the OCP and alcohol can also disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut. Too many "bad" bacteria can lead to a build up of toxins including exotoxins which can disrupt immunity. Adding probiotic foods such as sauerkraut (find out how to make here) or taking a probiotic supplement can help to repopulate the good guys, rebalancing the gut flora and improving bacteria. 

4. Increase Fibre
The end of product of digestion is, as we all know, excretion. We should be emptying our bowels 1-2 times a day, stool should be well formed (like a banana), smooth and light brown. It should neither sink nor swim and should be light brown in colour. Now I know many do not like to speak about their stool but it tells us alot about our digestive health so it should be respected! A good digestive system is removing harmful toxins which might otherwise contribute to health issues such as cancers. 
How so we help things along? If you are already taking the probiotic mentioned above, you are well on the way. However, fibre is an important tool in moving them movements along! Include nuts and seeds to our diet such as linseeds, which can be taken last thing at night with water. It forms a gel like substance which aids the movement of the stool more easily. 

Image sources:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Easy Recipe: Paleo Coconut & Flaxseed Bread

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed and nut mixture (I used one from Linwoods with flaxseed, almond and walnuts in it)
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 medium eggs (beaten)
2tbsp honey
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
Butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C, grease a loaf tin with some butter or coconut oil
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
Add the six eggs a little at a time until well combined. If the coconut flour starts to clump at this point use a whisk to make smooth.
Add the honey and coconut oil and combine.
Mixture should be thicker now with the addition of the oil.
Pour into the loaf tin and place on the middle shelf for approx 40-45 minutes until the loaf is cooked through.
Remove the bread gently from the tin and place on a chopping board to cool. The crust will start to crisp as it cools leaving a nice crust and a soft centre.
Serve with Kerrygold butter and enjoy!

If you need to buy coconut flour buy it here from 
Use promotion code GBG406 for discounts on your order!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Paleo Coconut Chocolates

By popular demand, Coconut Chocolates or Paleo "Bounty Bars" as I like to call them!
Really easy to make and a lovely treat for Halloween or any other occasion meriting a treat, they are delicious and moreish and one or two is just enough to satisfy a craving!

Obviously these don't taste as sweet as a normal chocolate. However if you are partial to some high cocoa content chocolate (eg 85%) this is up your street!

1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup coconut oil (& a little for greasing)
6tbsp of honey
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Grease a silicone ice tray with coconut oil to reduce sticking.

For the filling:
Blend 2 tbsp honey with the shredded coconut until a dough forms. If the shredded coconut is too dry add a little water and blend until moist enough to form into balls. Set aside.

For the chocolate:
Place 4 tbsp honey, the cocoa powder, coconut oil and vanilla over a medium heat and stir until honey is melted and all ingredients combined.

Half fill the silicone ice cube with the chocolate mixture. Place a ball of the filling in each compartment. Fill the remaining half of the silicone with the chocolate. Make sure to fill each chocolate right to the brim.

Place in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight is best. Enjoy!

Original recipe available Kate Evan Scotts book "The Paleo Kid's Halloween" here.
Check it out for great Halloween party ideas!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Easy Roast Butternut Squash Soup

This is the easiest way to make squash soup. It requires minimal effort but yields delicious but hearty soup.

1 medium butternut squash
1 litre of homemade chicken broth or vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
1 x clove garlic
1 medium onion
2 tsp sage
Sea Salt & Ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C
Slice butternut squash in half length ways (along the longest part of the squash)
Scoop out the seeds and discard.
Place the squash on a baking sheet and season on the flesh side with sage, salt and pepper.
Turn it over skin side down and pour the 1/2 cup water into the tray, this will act as a steam to cook the squash quicker.
Add the onion, sliced, and the clove, chopped.
Place tray in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the squash and other vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Using a spoon, scoop the contents of the squash out and place in a saucepan. Remove the garlic and onion from the pan and add to the saucepan with the squash.
Add the stock bit by bit and blend with a hand held blender according to desired consistency (add less stock if you desire thicker soup)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

How To Make Nutritional Therapy A Career For You!

I get asked a-lot on my facebook page for information on the course I am studying. 
I am almost finished my third and final year of a Naturopathic Nutrition Diploma course with the College of Naturopathic Medicine,(CNM) Dublin. 

Naturopathic Nutrition,in CNM's words "stresses the use of whole and organic foods as medicine - an integral concept of healing in many indigenous societies. Today, we see that a return to chemical-free foods, along with other dietary measures, is an effective answer to many health complaints and common conditions". 

It is an excellent course and very comprehensive, based on up to date scientific evidence and research based findings. It provides the platform for graduates to open their own clinical practice to help clients over come illness through food and nutrition. 

The first year of three focuses on biomedicine and gives students an incite into the human body and how each of the systems function. It is very interesting and very necessary if you are to understand the impact of nutrition on the body. If you are already working in the health industry or have already studied biomedicine you may be exempt from this particular year. 

Second and third years are based on nutrition studies and focuses on topics such as firstly the building blocks of nutrition eg micro and macro nutrients, types of diets, detoxification and then nutrition for disease processes. 

As well as the academic side of things years 2 and 3 also focus on clinical theory and clinical practice. The in-class clinical observations are extremely informative and involve observing actual clinical cases. This is key to gaining experience for our own clinical practices and total clinical hours are 200 over the final 2 years. 

I absolutely love the course. If you have a passion for nutrition and want to inform and help people overcome illness through nutrition I would strongly urge you to do it. 

I started this blog in 2011 as a little incentive to stick to Paleo. What it triggered in me was a realization that this is what I love and what I want to do with my life - teach people to realise that what we put into our mouths has SUCH an impact on how we feel and how healthy are bodies and minds are. 

If you feel the same way and are looking for a change of career I recommend you check out their website here

They have courses on offer in Dublin, Cork and Galway. They also have a base in the UK for those of you who wish to study over there. 

It is fully accredited with the Irish Association of Nutritional Therapy. 

I hope this helps! 


Friday, 16 August 2013

5 Common Nutrition Myths Debunked Series Part 2 "LowFat Is Good"

Modern society has become obsessed with eating low fat. Starting in the 1980s, when the US government published reports highlighting a flawed correlation between cholesterol and heart disease, the media as a whole soon followed suit with now infamous publications of articles such as THAT "Times" magazine article. The fat fear had officially been ingrained in the conscience of society.

Butter and egg sales fell dramatically and people opted for the "healthier" options of vegetable oils and breakfast cereals to keep their fat intake down.

No one could have imagined the rate at which the food industry corrupted the general nutritional profile of our food. In an effort to meet the demands of fat fearing consumers, food producers began removing the fat from their foods by processing. Except without the fat the food tasted bad. So they had to add something to make it taste palatable - namely sugar, artificial sweeteners, flour and salt. The sad reality is that although these nasty extras were being added to the food,  the only thing people looked at was the fat content of their foods, not its overall nutritional profile. We had lost the point.

Fat Is Not The Problem 

Consider this - if low fat eating is the most healthy way to eat then why has society's health got WORSE since the emergence of the low fat diet phenomena? Obesity is higher than it has ever been in our history and chronic disease is on the up rise with diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers on the rise.

The supermarkets are full of low fat biscuits, low fat crisps and low fat juices - guilt free eating at its best. However our waistlines are not getting smaller.

If the low fat diet is so good for us, why are we still so fat?!

All Fats Are Not Created Equally 

The things about fats is they are not all the same. It is not necessary the amount of fat that matters, but rather the TYPE.

Fats are an important component in a proper functioning body. It has a role in hormone synthesis and nerve health. It is therefore crucial that you include sources of good fats in your diet.

They also play a very important role in reducing inflammation.

Good fats help to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. Think of them as "mopper uppers" of bad cholesterol as they guide it to the liver to be synthesized.

Fats To Avoid

  • Vegetable Oils (eg canola oil, sunflower oil) 
  • Margarine
  • Transfats (found in processed foods) 
  • Cooking with easy damaged oils like extra virgin olive oil 
Fats to Increase
  • Avocados
  • Coconut Oil
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Olive Oil (dressings, cold uses) 
  • Saturated Fats like lard, tallow, duck fat etc

Risks To Eating Low Fat

The truth is that by constantly focusing on low fat in your diet, you may be inadvertently eliminating crucial  nutrients from your diet.

During processing low fats foods have all the fat removed from them. Of course removing this fat also eliminates the fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, K. Many producers add synthetic vitamins back into the food to make up for this, but these vitamins are just that; synthetic. They do not work in the body the same way as their natural counterparts. Fat soluble vitamins are also designed to work with fat. By eliminating the fat they should be soluble in, the vitamins are unable to be absorbed in the way they should be.

Signs and Symptoms Of Insufficient Essential Fatty Acid Intake

  • Dry skin
  • Cracking/peeling fingertips
  • Patchy dullness/skin discolouration
  • Small bumps on the back of arms
  • Combination skin
  • Dull nails 
  • Dry eyes
  • Lack of vaginal lubrication
  • Menstrual cramps 
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Stiff/painful joints
If you are suffering 3 or more of the above symptoms you may benefit from including more essential fatty acids in your diet. 

Despite the common hype, low fat diets are not the healthy lifestyle many suggest, nor are they the gold standard in weight-loss many believe. 

A more healthy approach to a good lifestyle is to eat real food and to include the good sources of fat outlined above. 

A lifestyle like Paleo contains a good ratio of protein, fats and natural carbohydrates. 

Eat Real Food, Eat Paleo. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

5 Common Nutrition Myths De-bunked Series: Myth No 1 - Dairy Is Essential For Bone Health

Nutrition information is constantly being thrown at us from all sides, a lot of facts contradicting  another, making it very difficult to know what is truth and what is myth.

What is truth is a lot of the "facts" are brought to us by large association driven sectors such as the dairy industry.  Government policy is driven by pressure from these groups to ensure their products sell, so they incorporate them into legislation like the food pyramids. 

It is time to debunk these myths once and for all! As part of this 5 part series I will be examining five common nutrition claims and revealing the truth! 

Don't always believe what you are told! 

Myth No 1: Dairy Is Essential for Bone Health

This myth particularly gets my goat! For years we have been led to believe that dairy is so important in our diets as the optimal source of calcium. Mothers across the country threw milk by the pint-full into their little darlings, safe in the knowledge that even if little Timmy wasn't a great eater, at least he was drinking his milk. This despite the fact that if Timmy was drinking gallons of the white stuff he was probably missing out on other vital nutrients he should have been eating in food.

Cow's Milk Is Not Human Food
First things first, cows milk was never designed to be drank by humans! No other mammal on earth extracts the milk of another mammal and drinks it indefinitely! It is quite ridiculous when you consider that cow's milk is designed for making calves fat, and it is very good at doing that! While the use of hormones is banned in UK/Ireland, it is still used in some US farms to increase lactation levels in cows, which is inevitably going to be passed on through the milk to you. Bottom line is this - cows milk is for cows not humans. (Though admittedly drinking raw from the cow like below is a lot healthier!)
The sad reality is that the milk we should be feeding our children; breastmilk, is largely underused. We need to be encouraged more to breastfeed our children and more support needs to be given to those who wish to continue breastfeeding past 6 months. A debate for another day.....

My Bones Need It! 
Secondly, milk is not the excellent source of calcium we have all been lead to believe! This myth stems from the fact that a cup of milk contains approximately 300mg of calcium. Sounds impressive right? It is this information that the Dairy Council come armed with when suggesting we get our three portions of dairy a day. However what scientific studies are showing is that not only is the calcium in cows milk (particularly in pasteurised milk) very poorly absorbed by our bones, but it can actually be detrimental to bone health!
This is because animal proteins (which milk and milk products are) are very acidic on the body. When something throws our body off it's pH balance it must be neutralised. The irony is that calcium in itself is actually an excellent pH buffer so it is leached from the bones to neutralise the acidic environment created. Hence once the process is complete what you are actually left with is a calcium deficit!

This truth can further be highlighted in the fact that of those countries consuming the highest levels of dairy eg. Ireland, Austria and Holland, have in fact got the highest incidences of osteoporosis. 
So there you have it: milk is not the powerhouse of nutrition we have been lead to believe, and there are other great sources of calcium which also happen to be much more nutrient rich than milk. 

What About My Bone Health? 
If we are not getting our calcium from dairy, where should be get it from? The truth is there are many other sources of calcium in the diet which are often overlooked, and what is more, many of them come ready "packaged" with other bone protecting minerals like magnesium, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D. 

Good sources of calcium include almonds, green leafy vegetables such as kale, bok choy, oranges and molasses.

Include these alternative sources frequently throughout the day to ensure you get your 800mg calcium per day (FSAI, 2009) 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Recipe: Paleo Pizza w/Coconut Base

3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp dried Italian Herbs
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
Topping of choice

Preheat the oven to 180C
Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.
Place on a well greased baking tray and flatten with your hand to the desired shape.
Blind bake for 15 minutes until golden, remove from oven and flip (carefully)
Add the tomato puree and flatten across the pizza.
Top with remaining toppings and return to oven for a further 10/15 minutes until cooked through and toppings are cooked.

Serve with sweet potato fries and a green salad.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Recipe: Paleo Coconut Pancakes

I am having a great weekend catching up on cooking and trying out some new recipes!
The past few weekends have been pretty busy so I have had very little time to do any baking.
I got a chance to get back into the kitchen to try out a few new recipes with coconut flour, my new love :)

Coconut flour is a great substitute for other flours: naturally gluten free, it is also a great source of both protein and fibre. It is also delicious and you don't need much as it goes far.

2 x eggs
1/4 cup of coconut flour*
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp honey/maple syrup (to taste) (Extra to garnish if desired)
Coconut oil to grease pan
Strawberries to garnish (if desired)

Heat pan/skillet on a medium high heat.
Grease pan with coconut oil.
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
Add mixture to the pan ( I used just under a ladle full)
Cook on first side until bubbles have formed and underneath is cooked on inspection. (approx 2 minutes)
Flip over gently - you may need to use a spatula and/or fish slice.
Cook second side for approx 1 minute; remove and set aside.
Re-grease pan and continue process until mixture is used up.

Garnish your stack of pancakes with fresh strawberries and honey.

Makes approx 5/6 pancakes. (Double recipe: you can never have too much pancakes!!)
Perfect with a cup of tea.

*To buy coconut flour shop here using discount code GBG406. 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Product Review: Vejibags - Keep Your Vegetables Fresher For Longer!


You may remember a few months back I posted a picture of a Vejibag I was kindly sent.
I have been happily trying it out in my kitchen and have had great results!

The bag itself is comprised of Organic Cotton and works by allowing humidity loving veggies like kale, carrots and onions to stay fresher for longer.

I love kale but hate the way it wilts and goes off so quickly. I have noticed a significant increase in the longevity of my fresh produce, and it definitely keeps it more crisp and fresh.

How do I use it? 

1. Wet the bag and wring it out so it is just damp (wash the bag before the first use).

2. Wash your veggies and shake off excess water.

3. Store as usual. Enjoy the extra freshness and longevity!

I really recommend this product! A single Vejibag retails at $16 but it will undoubtedly save you money as approximately 25% off all fresh produce goes off before we can use it. The Vejibag works by allowing the vegetables to breath rather than sweat like they do in plastic. A slightly moist bag allows the vegetables to retain their crispness and extend their shelf life longer than either plastic or a crisp drawer.

To purchase online or for further details check them out on

Friday, 31 May 2013

My May 2013 Whole30 Experience.

Hi all!

Hope you are all well!

Yesterday marked the end of my May Whole30 so today I was officially enjoying a little more leeway in my diet.

For those of you who do not know what the "Whole30" protocol is, in a nut shell it is a strict elimination diet which aims to promote healing through diet. It is a Paleo protocol eliminating grains, sugar, alcohol and dairy and aims to reduce digestive problems and gut issues which in turn leads to a reduction in inflammatory disorders. Check out their website on (Dallas and Melissa are a cute married couple who just had their first baby. Believe me, their beautiful photographs alone will inspire you!)

This was not my first Whole30, in fact it was my fifth Whole30 in the past 2 years. It was no more challenging than the past times though let me tell you! If you are a fan of my facebook page you will know that I had a little blip in my determination last weekend! I was feeling a little sorry for myself and truth be told I really wanted  a treat! But I got through it and I am so delighted to have succeeded at my fifth Whole30.

This time I set out with one specific aim - to improve my digestion. As a Nutritional Therapy student I understand the importance of good digestive function and emptying the bowels every day. Despite my best efforts I was not achieving this. So I decided to go 100% clean and alcohol free as well as adding a daily probiotic in order to achieve this (Optibac Maintaining Regularity).

I have to say the Whole30 was a fantastic way to achieve my goal. Not only was my digestion fantastic but my energy levels have been superb. I have had no dips in energy despite my busy schedule. Bloating and indigestion disappeared and overall I felt amazing.

Weight loss was not my goal so I was nervous I would loose too much. Thankfully my weight-loss did plateau at 4.5 lbs which I was happy with. I always panic after the first 1-2 weeks as I seem to loose weight quickly in the beginning but all was well in the end.

There is something terribly rewarding and righteous about eating 100% clean and knowing you are putting nothing bad into your body. It feels good and healthy and right. But it can also be stressful in social situations if not handled in the right way.

When I am doing a Whole30 I make sure I have nothing in my social calender which may deter me. However life is life and inevitably something comes up and you are cast into social ambiguity and really want a chip or an alcoholic drink or a bun and you cant have it! I was proud of myself that I managed to get through a recent unexpected dinner in someone elses house! Whilst I couldn't have a proper meal I was able to have some plain protein and coleslaw which was just enough to keep me full and just enough not to be rude!

Typical Daily Menu

BF: Spinach Scrambled Eggs
Snack: Almonds, banana
Lunch: Mackerel Salad
Snack: Pecans, Apple with almond butter
Dinner: Grilled Pork Chops with roast sweet potato, green beans, carrots, parsnips
Snack (if needed) Orange/Raisins

Overall my fifth Whole30 was a success and definitely will not be my last! In fact I am already planning my next one in August, though I think it will be more of a Whole14 or Whole21 next time! :)

Now, time for a glass of vino! ;)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Recipe: Coconut, Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

Serves 2

2 Free Range Chicken Fillets, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 tbsp of Medium Curry Powder (check ingredients and ensure no nasty preservatives)
1 tin of full fat coconut milk
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1/2 red chilli
Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger grated
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium head of cauliflower, split into florets.
1 cup of mixed bell peppers cut into strips
Large handful of spinach

Fry chopped onion, garlic, 1/2 red chilli and ginger in some coconut oil until softened.
Add tbsp of curry powder and fry off for 2 minutes.
Add a tin of coconut milk and tbsp of tomato puree and stir until well combined.
Bring to a simmer for approx 5 minutes.
Add cubed chicken, peppers, sweet potato and 1/4 of the cauliflower.
Return to a simmer and cook on low heat, covered until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables tender (about 25 minutes).
Add spinach for final 2-3 minutes until wilted.
In the meantime, steam remaining cauliflower until just tender.
Mash using a potato masher until resembles rice consistency.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Recipe - Pork Sausage Burgers

I love sausages but unfortunately most sausages here are not Whole30 compliant and to be honest I find it very difficult to find a good quality sausage without any fillers such as rusk or horrible additives.

I thought about them and then decided that given they are just made from minced/ground pork why not just make my own?

So obviously I don't own a fancy smanchy sausage making machine and I was not inclined to get all technical with sausage skins, so I decided to just make them into burger shapes. Still the lovely flavour but with less cooking time.

These are really easy but very delicious. It should make roughly 10 small burgers and are ideal for batch cooking and keeping for during the week or freezing for another day.

400g ground/minced pork
1tbsp coconut oil (for frying)
1 egg (beaten)
1tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
2tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt/Pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the pan on a medium heat.
Mix pork and dry ingredients together until well mixed.
Add beaten egg and incorporate. Mixture will be quite moist, this is good as the frying will dry out slightly.
Form into small, fairly thin burgers.
Melt coconut oil in pan.
Fry burgers in small batches turning as little as possible.
Place on some kitchen paper to drain.

Serve with an optional squeeze of lemon.

Really really good. You might want to eat them all!!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

May 30 Day Paleo Challenge - The Dos and Don'ts!

So, as you may have seen on my facebook page, tomorrow will mark the beginning of my fifth strict, 100% clean 30 day challenge.

I have been following a Paleo diet since July 2011 and like to do a Whole30 style "cleanse" about 3 times a year.

My diet would be about 80/90% Paleo but I do have a few downfalls, mostly red wine and butter!

I have decided that May will be my fifth round of 100% clean eating, my second challenge this year.

What is a Whole30 I hear you say? Well it is essentially a wholefood diet comprising of plenty of good quality protein sources like beef, chicken, pork (including good quality bacon) and fish (oily where possible), plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts/seeds and good fats. There should be no grains, sugar, processed food, dairy or legumes. Check out Dallas and Melissas page here for full details.

In a nutshell here are the dos and don'ts!


Eat Plenty of Fresh Vegetables
Eat SOME fruit (2 pieces a day max if weight loss is your goal, include protein to decrease blood sugar highs)
Eat protein such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish (oily), game, pork
Eat the best quality protein sources you can afford
Snack on nuts and seeds (limited to a handful only if weightloss is your goal)
Include plenty of good fats such as coconut oil, avocados, olive oil (not cooking), nuts, seeds

Eat grains of any types - wheat, spelt, barley, millett, buckwheat, rye, oats etc
Dairy of all kinds
Refined sugars including honey, artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, sugar etc
White potatoes
All processed food - everything from scratch!
Vegetable oils such as canola/rapeseed oil, seed oils, crisp and fry, margarines etc

I will be posting photos of all meals consumed as well as recipe ideas and tips on keeping it Paleo.

For a guide on how to shop Paleo, check out my post here 

I hope you will join me!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Shopping Paleo - My Tips On How Best to Shop Effectively and Efficiently

One area people struggle with when they decide to become Paleo is learning how best to shop. It may seem like an easy task for many of you, but it is surprising how many people never cook and therefore never need to shop properly!  I therefore decided to put together a few tips on how best to fill your shopping basket and also how to keep your budget in check! Careful planning and discipline will mean you have everything you need to feed you and your family effectively and efficiently.

1. Plan Your Weekly Menus 

For many, planning and consideration of what they plan to eat for the week ahead is unheard of. They prefer to decide on a day to day basis what to eat. This is a big no no. Not only do you inevitably spend more money, you are also likely to pick up bad foods you fancy because a) You are already hungry and b) You "deserve" a treat.

The best way to avoid slip ups and picking up less than desirable food stuffs is to PLAN. If you have a rough idea of what you plan to cook for each meal for the week, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and other snack foods, you are far more likely to just eat good food. I tend to buy the same foods every week and then come up with variations on what to cook with them. For example I will buy a nice rib eye steak for Friday and pair it up with whatever veggies I feel like on the day. I will always have grass fed minced (ground) beef in the freezer (organic if it is pay week!) as well as fresh salmon and free range chicken fillets. By always picking up the staples I know my family enjoy, I can come up with meal ideas day by day. Over time you too will realise you are just buying the same types of meats, paired up with whatever fruits/veg are in season. All you then have to do is make sure you take your protein out of the freezer the night before if necessary and voila, food source sorted! Don't leave your shopping to chance - plan your meals and stick to it.

2. Shop The Outside Aisles Of The Shop! 

Think about it; your local supermarket is always laid out with the fresh produce in the outside aisles. Apart from the baked foods (which is always strategically placed near the door to entice you to smell and buy), all the delicious, fresh fruit and vegetables is always on the outside aisles. In my local supermarket, one of the first things I meet is the fruit, followed by the vegetables and fresh meat and fish. This means that the bulk of my weekly shop is done before I even get half way around the shop! Once a month or so I stock up on store cupboard essentials like tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, nut flour etc. It is therefore entirely possible to avoid the centre aisles altogether and along with them the processed "food", cereals and grains that you no longer  require! Apart from making your shopping trip shorter, it also means you are less likely to be swayed and tempted by all the marketing strategies undertaken by the processed food industry.
Pick up as much different varieties of the fresh produce as you think your family can consume, while keeping roughly within the meal plans you have already set.

3. Buy In Bulk Where Possible

I usually find that I buy the same items every week, however I pick up extra meats or fish that are on offer to freeze as a cost cutting strategy.
Sometimes we buy a lamb or pig from a local farmer and have it butchered for freezing. This saves loads of money in the long run as well as allowing you to know exactly where your meat came from. If you ask around, you might even find someone willing to split the costs.

4. Read Labels

This is possibly the single most important tip to consider when keeping your diet Paleo. Most of your food should not come in boxes, we all know this. However we sometimes include some tinned or boxed products in our baskets which can be considered Paleo (coconut milk, tinned tomatoes etc). It is very important that we take responsibility for what we are putting into our bodies, and make sure we read the effing labels. Something may look healthy as sin, but read the label and it is full of cheap vegetable oils, gluten or some artificial sweetener like aspartame. The truth is these processed food industries want to make as much profit as possible and using high quality ingredients wont help them achieve this. It is therefore so important to make sure the product you are buying is not bad quality. If possible also choose organic.

5. Do Not Be Tempted By Processed Foods and Treats - (if necessary leave your kids at home).  

Not everyone has got to the idealistic stage where the whole family is on board with Paleo. I know my own family is not fully on board, they are a work in process. However I keep the overall eating in the house as Paleo as possible (no processed food, good fats for cooking with etc) However we have all experienced it -  the little ones come shopping with us and put their cute little munchkin faces on and say "Mum, please can we have the bagels, I LOVE bagels, we never get bagels anymore" and in a moment of grocery shopping weakness we say "Oh, ok, just one pack". The problem is not just that the little ones will have a freaking bagel.. It is that once the bagels (or whatever processed food your child twisted your arm to buy) has entered the house YOU are also more likely to eat them too. The best way to make sure you don't eat the bad food is to not buy the bad food at all! Simples. If avoiding the processed food aisle is the only way for you to avoid succumbing, then avoid the processed food aisle like the plague. If your children and their damn puppy eyes makes you feel you should buy their love with food (you shouldn't by the way, just say no!) don't bring your children shopping! Even if there is a massive sale on Chicken Pot Noodles and you loved Chicken Pot Noodles BP (Before Paleo) don't buy them! Step away from the pot noodles! As before, the more bad food choices you have in the house, the more likely you are to break your plan and eat them.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Book Review: "A Modern No- Nonsense Approach To Paleo"

When Alison Golden of PaleoNonPaleo gave me the opportunity to be one of the first to read her new book, I jumped at the chance! I had been a long time follower of her blog and she has become an inspiration for me too in many ways.

"A Modern No-Nonsence Approach To Paleo" is a pure gem of a book. Whether you are just considering trying Paleo living, are already started but are in need more information or are a seasoned Paleo follower and on the lookout for new ways to overcome common challenges, this is the ideal book for you!

The important thing to bear in mind about this book is it is neither a cookbook or a scientific run down on the merits of Paleo. Both have been done before. Instead, this is a no nonsense guide to developing your skill set in order to fully take on and overcome many of the challenges faced by us in a Non Paleo world.

Lets face it, even for those of us eating Paleo for quite some time, life throws a lot of challenges our way - parties, birthdays, work lunches, holidays etc, and it is sometimes very difficult to say no and stay strong!

This is where "A Modern No-Nonsense Guide To Paleo" comes in handy!

Alison utilizes her skills in organisational behaviour as well as her own three year personal experience of following Paleo eating tos put together a complete guide for the hows of Paleo rather than the whys.

The book has six sections ranging from sections ones "Understanding Paleo" to Section sixes "Building A Strong Paleo Personal Core" and truely covers everything inbetween. From getting a support group in place early, to getting your kitchen Paleo ready and learning the best ways to do your Paleo shopping, Alison has it covered.

I personally love her section titled "Go Gradually" which basically teaches us that small changes can make a big difference in the long run. She suggests changing one thing at a time like subbing your vegetable oil for coconut oil and taking it from there. This is a great tip - many people take on too much at once and then get bored.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It truely does take a no nonsense approach to a challenging matter and puts in place real, tangible ways to overcome them.

It certainly got me thinking and I will certainly be referring to this book again and again for tips on how to improve my own Paleo living in a Non Paleo world!

Buy it here (US) or here (UK/Ireland)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

6 Challenges Of Eating Paleo In A Non Paleo World!

We have all been there. The confused glances of disbelief at our food choices, the sheer inability to comprehend the use of fats as a nutritious aspect of our diet, the shock at our choice of grain free living without a coeliac diagnosis. But we choose to trust in our dietary choices, because we come armed with our own research, MODERN, updated information and not merely the pharmaceutical sponsored nutritional teachings your Doctor probably received.

If you are new to Paleo or are merely considering starting on this interesting and worthwhile dietary adventure here is a list of the 6 of the most challenging arguments faced by us modern cave people on a daily basis and how to deal with them.

Challenge No 1. The Low Fat Mentality
I encounter this argument so often. In fact it is probably the biggest challenge faced when trying to convince others of the merits of Paleo. People have been so brain washed by the low fat industry that it is near on impossible to convince them otherwise. This industry has a lot to answer for. Low in fat but high in refined carbs and quite frankly full of chemical taste replacers, the lower fat era has clearly not worked! How many people do we all know that have done the low fat diet, starving themselves between carb filled meals, all followed up with the obligatory low fat yogurt desserts? Their results were always slow and short lived and always resulted in gain in weight once normal eating resumed.

Challenge Solution: Include fat in every meal. Simples. And before you get all outraged and feel the need to tell me "saturated fat equals heart disease". It doesn't. In fact neither does cholesterol! The main causes of heart disease are inflammation and presence of fibrinogen ( a blood clotting agent) as well as arteriosclerosis (plague).
Good fats or essential fatty acids (EFAs) are necessary to replace all those shit grains you are now excluding as part of a Paleo plan. They come in the form of Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids, both of which are essential (because they cannot be made by the body) but with Omega 3 being the least inflammatory of the two. On a simple level they are needed to fill you up, provide a mode of energy storage, help you absorb your fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K), form a part of cell membranes and play a role in the creation of prostaglandins (hormone like substances involved in inflammation prevention).

Good sources of EFAs - oily fish like salmon, herring, anchovies and mackerel, flaxseed, avocados, nuts, butter, coconut oil and olive oil (but not for cooking over 180C).

Cut Out: Refined Vegetable Oils, hydrogenated fats like spreads.

So don't exclude the good fats. Fats do not make you fat. Promise.

Challenge No 2: Comparisons to Atkins, Low Carb Confusion.

Many people who hear about our way of eating automatically assume it is some sort low carb crash diet. Knowing very little about diet plans outside of the normal low fat approach they liken it to Atkins and write you off as a dieting obsessed nut. (This does happen, I promise this is only slightly dramatised!)

Challenge Solution: Paleo is not based on Low carb and it is NOT the same as Atkins. Paleo gets its carbohydrate sources from fruit and vegetables rather than from the refined carbohydrates favoured by most. Vegetables in particular provide adequate carbohydrates as well as fibre and nutrients not present in refined breads, pastas etc. They are also unprocessed and in their natural form.

Atkins on the otherhand discourages the consumption of any vegetables and encourages large quantities of meat with no emphasis on quality. Paleo encourages the use of good quality, grass fed meats from known sources. There is no comparison between these schools of thought.

Paleo is not Low Carb. It is just real food with nothing refined or processed. It is not excluding a full food group because it is based on the original diet consumed by our ancestors. How can that be wrong?!

Challenge No 3: Eating Out

This one really is a challenge for everyone. New to Paleo or old hands, the issue of eating out and finding something suitable to eat is one faced by us all. Ireland in particular is not as accommodating as those in other countries. The US for example is well known for the ease at which customers demand their dietary requirements be met. And dead right they are too. But we are not quite there in Ireland yet. Things are improving, but most dishes are covered in sauces, and pasta dishes are still a firm favourite. And of course that is all before we even consider the oils that were used to cook our foods in! For those travelling for work it can be difficult, particularly because the food produced at meetings is usually pure shit.

Challenge Solution: It is no wonder that many people on Paleo choose to eat at home. I find I prefer to eat my own food most of the time. I know what is in it and I feel less bad effects from eating my own fresh produce. However eating out is also a social necessity and is something which we all do from time to time, and should enjoy doing. People often write to me and ask what I choose when I eat out. There are a number of ways I try to limit the effects of eating out. Choosing a plain protein like a steak and requesting it be cooked in butter and topped with garlic or herb butter  is one easy way to get around the main course (and who doesn't love a good steak!?) Failing this another protein such as salmon with veggies or a nice meat and salad is another good choice. Most good restaurants will also provide some sort of fruit salad as a dessert option with some fresh cream on the side (f you choose to have dairy). You just have to ask. We Irish may not be used to causing a fuss but consumer demand leads the market and requesting for these things today will lead to more options being available to others in the future.

Challenge No 4: Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail. 

One area a lot of Paleo Newbies fall down on is preparation. Failing to prepare for the week ahead sets you up for increased chance of reaching for the first thing you see at lunch time, even if that happens to be pasta carbonara. Your grumbling tummy over- rides your once steely determination and you decide you will order a meat ball sub and start again tomorrow. Your work colleague had a crap morning and has decided she is having the trio of desserts instead of lunch because she wont have time for dinner later and she deserves a treat and her argument sounds good so you join her.

Solution: Preparation is the key to success in many ways but it is even more so in succeeding with Paleo. Many use the weekend as a time to stock up on food for the week, using their free time to make broth, fry up some proteins, chop up some veggies and store them in Tupperware ready to be used for the week ahead. This is a great idea and allows for access to easy meals during the week when time is short. My preparation usually includes making chicken broth and making soup from that for weeks lunches. I prefer to cook my main meals from scratch fresh each day but this is because I have time in the evening and value fresh cooking. Takeaways do not feature in our list of meal options and should not feature in yours either. Your family deserve real food and so do you.

Concentrate on real, unprocessed foods. Do not complicate things at first. Choose easy options of protein = veg + fats and the rest will follow.

Challenge No 5: The Non Compliant Spouse/Family 

Many of you may be lucky enough to have your spouse and/or family on board with the Paleo diet. You all go shopping to the farmers market together on a Saturday afternoon and you and your partner enjoy pillow talk involving WOD and how to make next weeks dinner party paleo friendly. If so I am officially jealous! Others including myself have still to completely convince our other halves of the merits of Paleo and bread is still a part of our shopping list (even if I don't personally eat it!) For many like myself the desire to eat unprocessed and real foods instead of traditional favourites can cause arguments, but these disagreements can be limited.

Solution: You may not convince your other half of the merits of eating a full Paleo diet but you can make small changes over time which can benefit everyone. Convince everyone that processed food is not happening anymore. Everyone can agree that these foods are bad. Increase home cooked meals, cook food from scratch, limit sandwich consumption and include other tasty foods which are still Paleo friendly. Include children in cooking - they are more inclined to eat the food if they help make it. Agree that some baking can happen but they will be Paleo friendly and they can take them or leave them. Do not buy crap food and they can't eat them! (Screw them if they whinge, treats have become too plentiful anyway).

I think the need to cook two separate meals should be limited where ever possible. Sure the Non Paleos (NP) may not want to give up their white potatoes, but you can still insist on cooking them simple homemade meals from scratch with the only difference being the inclusion of white potatoes for the NPs and sweet potatoes for you. Spag Bol a firm favourite? Cook it yourself from scratch - Paleo friendly but still delicious, sub out the pasta for you and include courgette "pasta" instead. Everyone happy. Simples.

It doesn't have to be difficult. I found that when I was looked at funny for mentioning "Paleo" and "Caveman" I looked at it from a different angle and just told my fiance we were eating healthier. (It probably is easier given that I am studying Nutrition and he already thinks I am crazy for healthy eating *shrug). You never know, some day they might surprise you and eventually become the next Robb Wolfe!

Challenge No 6: Becoming Obsessed With The Facts! 
So I realise this may seem like a contradiction to what I have said in the past - to research and then research some more. What I actually saying here is that sometimes we take on so much information that it can all seem pretty overwhelming! I have been guilty of this in the past, obsessing over every detail - should I have had butter on the pan there? Was the heat to hot for olive oil? Should I include some nuts with that snack or have I already had too many today? Is almond milk paleo? It can all seem like a lot of information with a tendency to not eat anything rather than eat something wrong or not Paleo enough.

Solution: STOP! 
Take a breather and think about why you are doing this.You are doing this to be a healthier you. You are trying to change the way you look at food and are attempting to eat a real food diet, ridding yourself of toxic processed foods. Do you need to become a modern day Grok overnight? No. And you wont. The transition to this new lifestyle should be slow and gradual, with small changes happening over time. Everyone can improve but no one will go from eating Pizza one day to out and out Paleo the next.

Don't let all the information overwhelm you. Look at the basics, protein + veggies + fat for each meal, take it one meal at a time and believe that you can do it. Because you can.