Monday, August 26, 2013

Going Paleo

   Lately it seems that all the cool kids are going paleo. 

With today’s rapid advances of modern civilization, taking a step back to reevaluate our eating patterns sounds like a great idea to me.  So when someone says they are “going paleo” what they are doing is rejecting any and all foods that have come about through the advent of agriculture. 

This means no bread, beans, dairy, oil, alcohol, tea, or coffee *gasp* because these foods must be processed from their original sources before being consumed.  The paleo diet is essentially modeled after the food ways of our ancient ancestors of the Stone Age.  These guys ate various meats, eggs, seafood, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds – things they could kill with a spear and pick off a bush to eat raw.  They lived a hunter-gatherer type lifestyle in a time where farms had not yet been established!  So they really had no way of making bread or toting a cow with them as they roamed around in search of their next meal. 

Now I’m thinking, “Why would anyone want to go paleo?!” Well, followers of this diet have some pretty persuasive health claims associated to having their plates piled with meat and veggies.  There are many articles online about these claims, but it’s always good to think about what the cons to a diet might be.  

·       A diet heavy with meat comes with quite a bit of cholesterol and saturated fat – neither of which is healthy for a diet to have in abundance. 

·       A diet without grains runs the risk of being low in fiber content and lacking in nutrients. 

The big plus I see in going paleo is increasing your consumption of veggies! Low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals, veggies are considered nutrient dense foods and are a great source of nourishment for the body. 

So, will I be going paleo? No, but I will continue to do my research and will go paleo only if I find compelling science-based evidence supporting paleo diet health claims.  Here and there a paleo meal wouldn’t hurt me, and I’ve even found some paleo recipes out there that sound mouthwatering. 

My advice? Do some research yourself. Talk to a dietitian. Do what feels right for your body. And always load your plate with veggies ;)   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Road Trip Essentials

Snacking is unashamedly a favorite activity of mine and seemingly appropriate for passing the time on road trips.  Before having loaded both myself and my bags into the car, I make sure to have my snacking essentials in order.

Here’s what I pack in an ice chest:

Veggie Sticks- washed, cut, and ready to eat raw, veggie sticks are nutrient dense and full of fiber and water. A crisp and colorful assortment of bell peppers, carrots, and celery looks like edible crayons stashed away in my bag and reminds me of the antioxidant benefits they have to offer. 

Guacamole- my “mmm can’t get enough of this!” favorite for dipping with veggie sticks. I like to buy the 100 calorie snack packs from Wholly Guacamole because the convenient little pouches portion the guacamole for me while keeping it fresh.  Another snack with a hefty fiber content, guac also contains monounsaturated fatty acids, a very beneficial and healthy fat needed by the body. It’s a pretty good idea to consume a healthy fat with veggies because some vitamins in veggies are absorbed best when fat is present and are therefore known as fat-soluble vitamins. Word of caution: don’t dip and drive! 

Coconut Water- chocolate coconut water, that is.  I prefer drinking ZICO coconut water in the chocolate flavor when the sweet tooth begins to roar.  Benefits of this chocolately treat include potassium, an important mineral, and several electrolytes. A satisfying way to stay hydrated, nourish the body, and calm the sweet tooth. Score.

Trail Mix- what would a road trip be without the old classic mix of nuts? Although there are many varieties to select from in stores, I prefer to toss together my own mix to avoid unwanted amounts of added sugar and salt. Mixes of mine include any of the following: dried cranberries, raw pumpkin seeds, roasted unsalted almonds, raw cashews, plain walnut halves, dried unsweetened coconut flakes, and roasted unsalted peanuts.  Healthy fats? Check. Minerals? Check. Protein? Check. Satiating? Absolutely!  

Frozen Blueberries- a popsicle-like treat but without the food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and insulin spike. Frozen blueberries are simply washed and dried berries that have been popped in the freezer. The fiber content of the fruit slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream so that insulin levels do not leave you with a sugar high and a moment later crave for more sugar.  The rich color of blueberries comes from the antioxidant properties they have to offer, and the fiber and water content will help to fill you up. 

Water- boring? Maybe, but important? Definitely! Staying hydrated is necessary to stay awake and sharp while traveling on the road.  I pack a 1 liter water bottle with me so I have plenty to hold me over until reaching a convenience store or arriving at my destination.  Sometimes I’ll even add a squeeze of lemon juice to my water if I’m in the mood for something with flavor. 

Having my own snacks packed for a road trip saves me from resorting to fast food when hunger (or boredom) strikes.  These are snacks I feel good about gobbling down, and I know the nutrients are what my body needs.  What are some of your favorite snacks on road trips?