Healthy vegetarian diets... there are many, but I never would have guessed Paleo would be one of them! So what could strict vegetarian Samantha Elkrief have in common with the paleo folks? Here you'll find out!
Samantha also tells us about the cool ingredients she newly discovered :)
I feel like I have to start this post by stating that I have been vegan or vegetarian for the past 25 years. Which, in my case, also happens to be the past 5/6ths of my life.
I’ve mostly followed what I have believed to be healthy vegetarian diets, including various shades of raw, macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, nutritarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. But paleo? Oh no, definitely not.
When I first started hearing about this diet, what stood out for me was meat, lots of it, lard, and raw dairy. This was not something I wanted to get involved in!
Healthy Vegetarian Diets -
But, a few months ago I was looking for someplace to eat. As I am currently vegan, gluten and sugar-free, this is not an easy task. So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon Hu Kitchen (hukitchen.com), a paleo themed casual dining spot around Union Square.
I was really surprised at all the options available to me.
What did I have? I had their...
This chia seed pudding was definitely a treat. They even have a whole chia seed pudding bar with unsweetened toppings, cashew cream, coconut cream, nuts, seeds and so much more. Now, this was inspiring.
Ok, so this got me thinking… maybe I have something in common with these folks?
Then last week, I felt inspired to make my own cashew cream. I had some coconut milk on hand, too, so I googled cashew coconut cream, and the first thing that came up was a recipe from Elena's Pantry (www.elanaspantry.com), a pretty popular paleo website. Well, the next 3 days I'm in heaven…which brings me to lesson #1.
For those of you unfamiliar with the
the diet generally limits and/or discourages the consumption of grains.
Because of this, it seems that a lot of people following this diet have found amazingly inventive ways to replicate bread, cracker, cake and cookie recipes using… almond flour.
Before stumbling upon Elena's Pantry, I had never seen almond flour used so widely.
To prepare myself, I bought almond flour from a health food store for way too much money (something like $12 for 16 oz). Then I found it at Trader Joes for half the price, then I found it at the local Indian market in my neighborhood for even less! I bought them all, "just in case". Then I found cashew flour/meal, bought that too. You get the point.
I've made quiche with an almond flour crust, yogurt almond lemon cake, sesame crackers and pulp crackers. I even used it to thicken my veggie burger batter, talk about versatile!
Bread was on the list, too, but wait until you get to point #4, which you find on the next healthy vegetarian diets page.
Here are links for a couple of the recipes:
Elena's sesame cracker recipe: http://www.elanaspantry.com/sesame-crackers/
Samantha's veggie burger: www.simplysamanthanyc.com/1/post/2014/01/veggie-burgers-oh-me-
As with anything that seems too good to be true, it usually is. Personally, it's very easy for me to get carried away. But for someone who is gluten-free, it does provide a great alternative.
Plus, almonds are a great source of magnesium and vitamin E, and a quarter cup has almost 8 grams of protein in it and 4 grams of fiber. It's certainly better than eating a pint of ice cream, at least for my body.
Some people think it's best to use coconut flour and other flours as opposed to almond flour. One blogger makes a good argument for coconut flour on her website, empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-almond-. She also has some great coconut flour recipes! Why not diversify :)
The Paleo diet welcomes all sorts of fats, like lard and other animal products.
I'll take a piece of it and leave the rest.
Olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil are all super healthy fats that I can't seem to get enough of.
Since starting my paleo research, I've started making my own chocolate with cacao powder and coconut oil, I've made coconut oil deodorant, coconut cream ice cream (with minor adaptations and no agave) and a whole lot more. Inspired dreamer's dark chocolate coconut bites are definitely on the list too, but I plan on subbing out the chocolate for more coconut oil and cacao powder.
Here are the URLs for the above recipes here:
Coconut oil deodorant: familysponge.com/green-living/homemade-deodorant-with-coconut-oil
Coconut cream ice cream: appetiteaffliction.com/2012/03/coconut-cashew-vanilla-ice-cream
Chocolate coconut bites: inspiredreamer.com/dark-chocolate-coconut-bites
Alas, you see how it's easy to get off track with such amazing fats!
So what are the benefits of indulging?
Coconut oil is antibacterial and anti fungal, so it's really great for someone struggling with Candida or other types of yeast. Coconut oil can also help regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
Olive oil is equally amazing, it's just more familiar to me so I'm not as excited about it :) Olive
oil is my go-to cooking oil, salad oil, and is great mixed with herbs
and spices. It also contains mono unsaturated fatty acids which can help
lower your cholesterol (see more:
edition.cnn.com/2013/02/26/health/five-things-olive-oil). That doesn't
mean drink the stuff, but it's totally fine to cook with it.
Avocados are also full of antioxidants that protect our bodies from free-radicals.
They are delicious on their own, as guacamole (which can be as simple as mashing an avocado into pieces with the back of your fork, adding some lemon or lime juice, diced onion, cilantro and garlic), and you can even make them into desserts.
Below are a few avocado dessert recipes, if nothing else, they will definitely stretch your imagination!
Even Dr. Oz loves these fats!
You can read more about his love of these fats here:
Next, we'll talk about making nut milks!
On this NutriDivas site we discuss healthy diets and balanced ways of living.
This page and the previous page are both dedicated to discussing the vegetarian diet.
More about healthy eating here.
If you are looking to start eating vegetarian, you could choose one of the healthy vegetarian diets and then go about it in your own way.
You will need to think about what your body needs, depending on how much you exercise and what kind of health challenges you've got.
A dietitian or health coach could help you figure out the best way for you to convert your diet to totally vegetarian.
There are many different kinds of ways to eat vegetarian - Lacto-ovo, ovo, lacto, pesca, vegan, raw, vegetarian macrobiotic....
But are all of those healthy vegetarian diets?
That's a good question... I think it's only until we take a closer look at the amounts of food and the percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables the person is actually eating, that we can get an accurate answer.