I Think I Believe in Paleo…

January 3rd, 2016….and we resolve to do better this year. Eat healthier, workout, balance life, and so on and so forth. Honestly, I’m already salivating for the chance to bite into a delicious cheeseburger with a side of truffle fries. But why can’t we have our fat and eat it too? The truth is you can! Seriously.. not all fat is bad and if you choose to eat your favorites in moderation you can still achieve the results you want. Right?

So where do we begin? At the first of December, I started making changes to my daily habits. The first goal was drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day. Drinking water not only helps boost your metabolism and cleanse your body of waste but also acts as an appetite suppressant. Drinking more water can also help your body stop retaining water, leading you to drop those extra pounds of water weight.

The second step is far more personal and requires some diligent research to see what works best for you and your lifestyle. I chose to eliminate “bad” complex carbohydrates and sugar from my diet with a primary focus on whole foods, chock-full of vegetables and limited quantities of pasture- raised locally-sourced meats. As a chef in Kentucky I have access to some amazing farms including Pike Valley Farm which is a certified organic farm with free range chickens, 100% grass fed beef, heritage breed pigs, and more. The quality of their meat has made a tremendous difference in my overall health. To learn more about Pike Valley visit

With just the increase in water, decrease in processed wheat and refined sugars; focusing on vegetables and local meat, I have lost 10 pounds in one month! (Let it be noted…I dropped these 10 pounds over the holidays and yes I cheated on bourbon and bacon on Christmas with ZERO reservations) No starvation diet here, no hunger pains, just results. I think I am a believer in Paleo.

This now so common household kitchen term is less complicated than it sounds. The Paleo tent is big enough to fit a host of different approaches, but the core tenets of this “caveman” eating remain the same:

  • Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods. Prioritize grass fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. Enjoy fruit, nuts, and seeds in moderation.
  • Avoid foods that will harm us by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar, and processed foods so conveniently placed in the middle of every aisle in the grocery store. (I mean how many different boxes of cereals can there be?!) #tangint

Once slang as “the caveman diet” Paleo has certainly entered into the 21st century. Not that I can speak for the caveman, but I highly doubt they were eating roasted beets with fennel and Brussels sprouts topped with a walnut vinaigrette, or a Chinese braised pork belly with grilled bok-choy and a sesame ginger glaze. You can find an abundance of helpful resources to explain the benefits of this lifestyle along with thousands of gourmet recipes that even a novice cook can perfect. I haven’t posted a cookbook alert in over a year so I thought I would hit you with a double whammy as you start down a road towards the new and improved you of 2016.

Some of my current Paleo favorites include:

Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo

practical paleo

Against all Grain by Danielle Walker

aagcovers.jpg

And here is one of my very own recipes to get you going…
Roasted Beet and Brussel Sprout Salad with Fennel and Walnut Vinaigrette
beet and brussel sprout salad
Roasted Beet, Brussel Sprout & Fennel Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts
  • 2 large beets
  • 1-2 fennel bulbs (Fennel fronds reserved for garnish)
  • coconut oil, salt, and pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • Orange Segments (optional)

vinaigrette

  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or unfiltered raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 TBSP walnut oil

Heat the oven to 400. Cut large brussels sprouts in half, and trim any tough stems. Peel and cut the beets into large chunks (about an inch). Cut the fennel length wise and remove the bottom core and slice in 1 inch thick pieces. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss with a drizzle of melted coconut oil (roughly 2 TBSP) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and nicely browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the vinaigrette. Mince the shallot and toss in a medium bowl with the next five ingredients. Whisk together and while continuing to whisk vigorously, slowly add the walnut oil to create an emulsified vinaigrette. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the brussels sprouts, beets, and walnuts. Taste for salt and pepper, garnish with fresh fennel fronds and orange segments (optional) and serve. Can be prepared up to two days ahead of time.

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