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!