Monday, November 14, 2011

Paleo Challenge

Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables because it's such a great carrier of flavour. It can be roasted to develop a wonderful nutty flavour or steamed, eaten whole or mashed. It's a great filler for stuffed dishes and is a fantastic substitute for anything that requires whole grains. 
Cauliflower "rice," as I like to call this one, was made by steaming cauliflower in salted water, then mashing it with a 1/4 of a roasted butter-nut squash and whatever spices you fancy! I used hearty winter spices like caraway, fennel and nutmeg. Even curried-cauliflower would be great! Remember to salt this mix properly, or it will be terribly bland. Add a few splashes of chicken stock if you need to loosen the mixture. The zest of one lemon brightened all the flavours. 
Local white-fish from lake Huron was baked with more spices and lemon and local sunflower oil. 
A rich tomato/red-pepper sauce was puréed and drizzled over everything. 
Finish with a handful of coarsely chopped parsley and cracked pepper.

A group of us from the local Crossfit gym have adopted the Paleo-diet (specifically the "Whole30" challenge) for 30 days. With the intention to cut out junky-food and eat as nature intended, I can honestly say that I've never felt better! In a nutshell, eat like a caveman: no fast-food, no packages, no dairy, no grains, no sweeteners. While this may sound impossible, there is still a lot of variety and tasty recipes to be had. Meat, eggs, veggies, roots, shoots, nuts and fruit are all free game! 
Am I still doing the 100-mile diet? Yes and no. The "bulk" of all my cooking is made with strictly local ingredients. Ie: the fish and the cauliflower and the tomatoes from this meal were all locally sourced. The slices of lemon to flavour the fish, were not. In addition to this, while I am eating very well, sleeping better and my sports performance has improved, I was just not meeting my daily caloric intake. 100 mile + paleo means no exotic fruits, no nuts and most fishes are not allowed. This is simply impractical as I am an active teenager with a busy schedule. Like many, I do not have time to pack perfect lunches everyday or have a proper breakfast every morning. I attempted to survive the first week on greens and local meats and eggs, but I was averaging around 700 kcal/day. I needed more grab-and-go foods to stay satisfied and alert at school. Therefore, for the 30-day challenge, I am allowing all nuts and all fruits into the equation. Since doing this today, I already feel much better!

Adopting new diet and exercise regimes challenge us to re-think our everyday norms and develop a new appreciation for different lifestyles. If you had told me a year ago that I would give up pasta, couscous, dairy and beans, I would have thought you were crazy! Some folk enjoy reading a magazine or painting for a hobby, but I love being a guinea pig when it comes to diet and exercise. The only person I can think of who would protest against this would be my mother, whom can't seem to figure out what I'm "allowed" to eat one week and not allowed the next. It's okay mom, I'll eat it ALL come Christmas time :) 

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