18 Ways to Get More Veggies in your Diet paleo primal vegetables-min

18 Ways to Get More Veggies in your Diet

With most things in life, the key is ‘everything in moderation.’ Not that this means you can eat pizza in moderation, but you get my point. One thing that certainly shouldn’t be moderated however is your intake of delicious, fresh veggies. We could all benefit from upping our vegetable intake, and certainly shouldn’t be aiming for the paltry ‘5 portions a day’ recommended by so called ‘experts.’ If you’re running out of ways to boost your veggie intake, why not give some of these ideas a try?

18 Ways to Get More Veggies in your Diet paleo primal vegetables-min

 

Use them in:

Hide them in:

  • Sauces – like this romesco sauce or as a base to a Paleo pizza
  • Baked goods, like these sweet potato and chocolate chip muffins
  • Omelettes – try a spinach and red pepper omelette for a delicious breakfast
  • Dips – why not try replacing the basil with spinach or kale in pesto?
  • Curries – Why not throw some sweet potato, squash, courgette or mushrooms into your curry?
  • Stews / Casseroles – You can ever add some extra veggies like onions, parsnips and carrots and blend them up to make a delicious fresh sauce

Make Paleo Alternatives:

  • Make Paleo Tortillas with Lettuce Wraps
  • Make Paleo Noodles with Courgettes – you may need a spiralizer!
  • Make Paleo Spaghetti with a Spaghetti Squash
  • Make Paleo Rice with Cauliflower

Eat lots of salad!

  • Making your own salad is a great way to consume loads of fresh, colourful veggies in one sitting. You can throw together all sorts of leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado – just about anything really!

Snack on them raw

  • Carrots, Cucumber, Celery and Peppers make excellent nibbles at snack time. Spread them with a little almond butter for a little indulgence if you like!

Make a vegetable based broth

  • This is an excellent way to use up all your leftover vegetables – simply throw them all into a pot and cook very gently for a delicious broth!

Go to your farmers market

  • A trip to your local farmers market can make you see vegetables in a whole new light. The colours, shapes and sizes of the produce on offer will be outstanding, and might just reignite your passion for vegetables. An otherwise boring tomato or bunch of kale will probably look much more fun here – so stock up at your local farmers market, and aim to walk away with at least one new vegetable.

How do you get extra veggies in your diet? Are there any ideas I have missed?

Tandoori Spiced Rack of Lamb with Mint and Coriander Relish paleo recipe-min

Recipe: Tandoori Spiced Rack of Lamb with Mint and Coriander Relish

A rack of lamb feels like a very special cut of meat; especially when it is seasoned with love and care. I often find myself devouring a whole rack in one sitting – but choose an 8 bone rack, and you should have plenty for two. This recipe tastes like it has come straight out of a tandoor oven; just don’t tell your friends how easy it is to make in a conventional one!

Recipe: Tandoori Spiced Rack of Lamb with Mint and Coriander Relish
 
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • Rack of Lamb Ingredients:
  • 1 x 8 bone rack of lamb
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 5 cm knob ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • Zest and juice 1 lime
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100ml full fat, unpasteurised yoghurt*
  • 2 onions, sliced into wedges
  • For the relish:
  • 1 handful fresh mint
  • 1 handful fresh coriander
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
  • 2.5cm fresh ginger
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Zest and juice 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp apple juice
  • *for a dairy free option, use one can of coconut milk. Chill the coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then spoon out the thick coconut ‘cream’ to use in place of yoghurt.
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, whizz together all of the ingredients apart from the lamb, yoghurt and onions to make a paste. Stir into the yoghurt, and then rub the marinade all over the lamb. Leave to marinade for 24 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 190C / 375F. Line a roasting dish with foil, and arrange the onion slices at the bottom. Rest the rack of lamb on top of the onions.
  3. Roast the lamb for approximately 30 minutes for medium rare.
  4. Meanwhile, make the chutney by blitzing all the ingredients together in a food processor. Serve alongside the lamb and a salad of your choice.

Tandoori Spiced Rack of Lamb with Mint and Coriander Relish paleo recipe-min

Get Well Soon Chicken Soup paleo recipe-min

Recipe: Get Well Soon Chicken Soup

Feeling a bit crummy? Chances are, you find yourself feeling under the weather much less than you ever did before you started eating Paleo – but on those rare days that you do, nothing says ‘get well soon’ like a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and boiling the whole bird means it is chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and of course – gelatin. Even if you’re not ill, I highly recommend you make some of this!

Recipe: Get Well Soon Chicken Soup
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Soups
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 x 1.5kg chicken
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, roughly chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Few sprigs fresh thyme
  • Few sprigs fresh rosemary
  • A large handful fresh parsley
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. Wash your chicken, before putting it into your biggest stock pot. Fill the pot with cold water, just enough to cover the bird, before adding the red wine vinegar. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 45 minutes. Skim the froth from the top, before removing the chicken.
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred all the meat from the bird using a fork. It may not be completely cooked through yet – this is perfectly normal.
  3. Return the chicken carcass to the stock pot, and add the onions, fennel, carrots, garlic and herbs (except the parsley). Return to the heat, cover and simmer for another couple of hours.
  4. minutes before serving, return the shredded chicken back to the soup. When fully cooked through, serve in soup bowls garnished with the fresh parsley.

What’s the secret to your favourite chicken soup recipe? Is it a dish you often make?

Get Well Soon Chicken Soup paleo recipe-min

What's so special about grass fed beef paleo primal health benefits-min

What’s so special about grass fed beef?

Grass fed beef gets plenty of recognition on the Paleo diet, and rightly so. We know our ancestors would have undoubtedly eaten copious amounts of wild fed ruminants; not the sort that were shuttled in their droves into giant feed-lots, devoid of natural light and space to roam, and fed with industrialised slop made from genetically modified corn, barley and soya. But, ideology aside, what is it that actually makes grass fed beef superior to ‘modern’ grain fed beef? Is it worth paying extra for – sometimes double the price? In a short answer, yes. And here’s why…

What's so special about grass fed beef paleo primal health benefits-min

As the demand for beef (and meat in general) rose significantly throughout the 20th century, ‘farmers’ began to reassess their production methods with one goal in mind. Profit. These beef barons were prepared to stop at nothing to decrease the production costs of each cow, with no concern for the animals’ welfare or for the welfare of the people eating the meat; and thus, factory farming was born. There were, of course, many who still wanted to do things the right way, and a divide became apparent. As factory farming has developed throughout the years, and cheaper, nutrient void food has become more available, this divide has become significantly greater.

One reason we eschew grains on the Paleo diet (apart from lectins, gluten and phytic acid), is the distinct lack of nutrient density that they offer in comparison with whole foods. If you genetically modify these grains, the nutrient density becomes even lower; practically non-existent. When cattle are fed a diet that is so devoid of nutrients, the meat they offer is therefore much less nutritious than that of an animal fed on a natural diet. This shows in the nutritional profiles of grass fed vs grain fed meat; grass fed is significantly higher in vitamins (in particular B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K and vitamin B12), minerals (including magnesium, selenium, zinc and calcium), CLA and Omega 3. We’ll come on to that last one again shortly. The lifespan of the cows also plays a part in the nutrients they offer; as factory farmed cattle have a much shorter lifespan (as they are overfed and under-exercised so that they reach the slaughter house in double quick time), they do not have time to build up the nutritional profile that they should do naturally. Quite simply, unhealthy diet + overeating + lack of exercise = nutritionally depleted beef. The same formula would also mean a nutritionally depleted human as well, which isn’t really much of a shock.

We’ve spoke about omega 3 and omega 6 before, and how it is important to maintain as close to an even ratio as possible to reduce inflammation in the body. Thanks to their diet, grass fed beef is significantly higher in omega 3 than its grain fed counterpart. On average, grass fed beef has a ratio of around 2.5/1 (omega 6:omega 3). Depending on the grasses they graze on, it can be as low as 1:1. The ratio of grain fed beef, on the other hand, can exceed 20:1.

To decrease the production time, factory farmed cows are fed artificial hormones to fatten them up more quickly. The presence of these hormones have been linked to hormone irregularities in the humans who eat a lot of grain fed beef – which is another reason to source your meat carefully.

To summarise, grass fed beef is better for you, better for the environment, better for the economy, and better for the animals themselves. It’s the way that beef should be eaten, but sadly, it is expensive. If you are limited in how much grass fed beef you can buy for financial reasons, opt for leaner cuts of meat when you buy grain fed. There will be less of an omega 3:6 imbalance as the all-round fat content is lower. Toxins are also stored in the fatty deposits of the animals, so by choosing leaner cuts you’ll minimise the toxins that you consume. If you’re completely against buying grain fed, look for cheaper cuts of meat like shin and chuck roast, and cook them slowly. Offal is a great bet too.

Do you eat grass fed (or pastured) meat? Is it important to you?

Paleo network recipe spicy stuffed aubergine eggplant Indian shells skins

Recipe: Spicy Stuffed Aubergine

These stuffed aubergine halves are a great meat-free option

Paleo network recipe lime tarragon fish seafood grain-free ideas

Recipe: lime & tarragon scallops

Seafood is so good for you – assuming you buy good quality of course. Scallops are a great choice – especially with a bit of lime!

Recipe: lime & tarragon scallops
Recipe type: Fish & Seafood
Cuisine: Barbecue
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
The most important thing with this recipe is getting hold of some very fresh scallops from a good source.
Ingredients
  • 24 (or about 500g) scallops (minus the roe)
  • handful of freshly chopped tarragon (if you can't get it, dried will do)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 limes cut into wedges (approx 8 wedges per lime)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix the scallops, tarragon, lime juice and olive oil. Ensure they are coated thoroughly and evenly.
  2. On a skewer, thread a wedge of lime and one skewer on each
  3. Cook on the barbecue (or grill), making sure they are all cooked through

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These are great on a barbecue served with a big green salad – and are sure to be a hit! If it’s not barbecue weather, the grill will do just fine instead.

But what’s so good about scallops anyway?

The humble scallop is packed with protein and also a great source of minerals such as zinc, potassium and magnesium. They’re very high in vitamin B12, and also provide iodine – which can be hard to get in adequate amounts on a paleo diet. Small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are also found in this humble seafood. If you can’t get hold of them, how about trying some clams or oysters instead?

Do you eat much seafood? I’d love to hear how you cook yours in the comments below!

40 Top Paleo Recipes - Quick and Easy Paleo Diet Recipes

Why you must wash your pre-washed salad

If you buy a pre-washed ready to eat bag of salad leaves, do you tip straight out onto a plate – or do you thoroughly wash it first? The whole idea of bagged salad mixes is convenience, so it’s no surprise most people don’t wash.

40 Top Paleo Recipes - Quick and Easy Paleo Diet Recipes

But how do they wash the salad before they bag it? Well it turns out diluted chlorine is commonly used. The chlorine is used to kill any harmful bacteria to ensure the lettuce is safe for our consumption. Seemingly even organic produce is allowed to use a weak chlorine solution for this purpose. Whilst there is supposed to be no trace of the chlorine 24 hours after treatment, do you trust your salad to be chemical free?

With outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella, it’s not surprising the salad growers are keen to sanitise their product. With salad available all year round the pressure is on to produce a cheap product – often meaning growers don’t provide sanitary conditions for their workers – hence the contamination risk. Unfortunately sanitising salad doesn’t remove the risk of contamination, it just makes it less likely.

So what’s the answer? If pre-washed salad could still be contaminated and could contain traces of chlorine is it worth paying the price premium?

Wash your own

A far better option is to spend a fraction of the cost buying fresh, unpackaged greens. Get rid of any wilted, torn or bruised leaves and let them sit in a sink full of ice cold water for 20 minutes. Use a salad spinner to get rid of the water and roll in paper towels to get the rest of the water out. If you store in plastic bags with paper towels to absorb any remaining water, they should remain fresh for over a week in the fridge.

How to you wash yours?

62 sneaky ingredients mislead sugar alternative names labelling

62 sneaky ingredients out to mislead you

It’s common knowledge that sugar is to be avoided, but if only it were that simple. Did you now there are at least 62 words food manufacturers can use, instead of simply saying sugar?

Many of the words on the list, such as Golden syrup and HFCS may be obvious no-no’s, but what about less common words, such as Ethyl maltol and Panocha. Would you immediately know that these ingredients were essentially sugar?

Agave nectar
Barbados sugar
Barley malt/ Barley malt syrup
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane juice/ Cane juice crystals
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Coconut palm sugar/ Coconut sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup/ Corn syrup solids

62 sneaky ingredients mislead sugar alternative names labelling
Date sugar
Dehydrated cane juice
Demerara sugar
Dextrin
Dextrose
Diastatic malt
Diatase
Ethyl maltol
Evaporated cane juice
Free Flowing Brown Sugars
Fructose
Fruit juice/ Fruit juice concentrate
Galactose
Glucose/ Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Honey
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Lactose
Malt/ Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltol
Maltose
Mannitol
Mannose
Maple syrup
Molasses
Muscovado
Palm sugar
Panocha
Powdered sugar
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice syrup
Saccharose
Sorbitol
Sorghum Syrup
Sucrose
Sugar (granulated)
Sweet Sorghum
Syrup
Treacle
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

Whilst clearly it’s best to go for natural foods that don’t need labels, I can’t ever imagine a day where packaged foods aren’t commonplace. So surely those who buy them should be armed with full, honest information about the contents of these products, so they can make an informed decision?

It’s a shame manufacturers are allowed to be so misleading. Wouldn’t it be simpler if they perhaps had to use the word sugar, and follow that with the specific type of sugar? I can imagine many time-poor households trying to make good food choices – despite their best intentions, they can easily end up buying sugar laden foods.

Sugar can be a really confusing topic, especially when even healthy blogs use natural sugars in recipes (I put my hands up to this too, though in my recipes the natural sugar tends to be an optional addition). But are natural sugars actually any better for you – I’ve written the definitive guide to paleo sweeteners to help clear this up.

What’s your take on these sneaky misleading alternative words for sugar?

Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling

But it’s natural!

If you’ve strayed from the perimeter of your local grocery store, you can’t have missed the endless products screaming at you that they are “natural”. The labels often heavily feature the colour green, which we associate with nature, and may even show images of endless fields in perfect sunsets. Often the packaging will be brown and have a recycled feel – it’s natural after all. Buy it! Buy it!

But what does natural actually mean? If something is natural, it has to be good for you, right? My view of “natural” is something that hasn’t been altered at all and is entirely in its natural state, like an organic banana. A survey last year by the Consumer Reports National Research Centre found that 60% of respondents actively looked out for “natural” labels, with 66% of those people believing it meant the product contained no artificial ingredients, no pesticides and no genetically modified organisms. Surely that’s a pretty reasonable understanding of a “natural” food?
Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling
Alarmingly there are no official definitions about what “natural” means on food labels, nor are there any Australian food standards governing how and when the term may be used.

Looking in my local Coles supermarket, I found a Jalna Fat Free Natural Yoghurt, in which the first two ingredients are “Pasteurised Skim Milk and Non-fat milk solids”. I also found a Natural Muesli by The Muesli Company, which contains Preservative 220, rolled oats and dried fruits (processes which surely take the raw ingredients away from their original, natural state?).

Another favourite, is Water Thins Natural Mini Crispbread. The ingredients… Wheat Flour, Cheese Powder [Milk Solids, Cheese Solids (Milk, Salt, Starter Culture, Enzymes), Mineral Salts (339, 331), Salt, Food Acid (330)], Salt, Vegetable Oil, Raising Agents (500), Rye Flavour. Salt? Perhaps the salt is natural? And how about Natural Glace Cherries? Guess what they contain? Cherries (60%), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Food Acid (330), Natural Flavour, Natural Colour (163), Preservatives [202, 211, 220 (contains sulphites)]. So, I suppose they’re 60% natural…

None of the products I’d found mentioned being organic (which is what I’d consider natural) – and as for processed ingredients, additives, flavourings and preservatives, “natural” seems to be a total farce.

So what’s the answer? Well – as I’ve spoken about before – if it has a label, it’s far less likely to be natural and healthy than something with no label. And if the label makes health claims, you should probably not buy it.

What would you expect a “natural” food label to mean? Do you think there should be more rules about the labels food manufacturers are allowed to put on their products?

Stuffed Capsicum paleo diet recipe bell peppers dinner lunch chicken-min

Recipe: Stuffed Capsicum

I usually only use green capsicum as they’re half the price of their red and yellow cousins, but when they were on offer this week, I thought it was high time to cook something capsicumy. What better than the classic stuffed capsicum? I’d usually make this with minced beef, but I fancied a change, so thought I’d give it a try with shredded chicken instead.

I always used to cut the tops of the capsicum, stuff them, put the lid back on, then cook them standing up. However, it’s not easy to find ones that will remain standing up and also I think they’re harder to eat and not so attractive on the plate this way. I served mine sliced in half lengthways and retained the stalk party to stop the stuffing falling out, and partly because it looks good! Unfortunately cutting them for this dish means I can’t use my genius capsicum cutting technique.

I used mushrooms, carrots and a zucchini for the stuffing, but this is a great way to use up whatever vegetables you happen to have.

Hint: Take care choosing your capsicums! You’ll find the ones with 4 points at the base will sit far better in the oven than those with 3 points.

I was left with loads of stuffing left over, so froze this in individual portions and will enjoy them for many lunches to come!

Recipe: Stuffed Capsicum
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a great winter dish served with cauliflower rice - or a simple salad.
Ingredients
  • 3 colourful capsicums (bell peppers)
  • Dash of coconut oil
  • 2 brown onions, diced into small pieces
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bottle of pasata
  • 1 zucchini diced into small pieces
  • 6 mushrooms, diced into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, diced into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Sea salt & black pepper to taste
  • Cooked shredded chicken
Instructions
  1. Cut the capsicums lengthways, ensuring the two halves will sit nicely, before making the cut. Deseed the capsicum and trim the insides and bottom of the stalk ensuring there is lots of room for them to be filled. Put the halves empty side up on a baking tray.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 175C
  3. Fry the onions in the coconut oil over a medium heat, until the soften.
  4. Add in the tomatoes and pasata, then stir in the veggies
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for 20-30 minutes, then add the herbs, spices and seasoning.
  6. Add in the chicken to heat up, and once the carrots have softened remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the capsicum halves and push down with the back of a spoon, ensuring they are completely filled.
  8. Put the stuffed capsicums in the oven and cook until the capsicum has softened to your liking, ensuring they don’t burn! I should just take a few minutes.

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Stuffed Capsicum paleo diet recipe bell peppers dinner lunch chicken-min