No Grains. It is a hard concept for folks to fathom when you tell them that you do not eat grains on Paleo. It is usually followed by the, “can you eat brown rice?” No, it’s a grain. “Can you eat corn?” No, it’s a grain. “What about Whole Wheat, that’s healthy?” No, it’s a grain.
Honestly, it is funny (strange) what foods people think are healthy these days. And why not, it is so confusing out there. I love it when someone says that they will bring something healthy, and the diet cookies or the vitamin enriched bread shows up. Well, I cannot blame them – I was there. The mega corporations, ad agencies, and the lobbyists are all out there to get your food dollars. If it has something REMOTELY healthy in it (like vitamins & minerals), they can get away with packaging & promoting their product as healthy.
So, on we go, answering the questions “Why no grain?”. Recently, I have been reading Whole 9’s “It Starts with Food.” Fascinating reading and they make it fairly easy to understand. But, it is not a simple quick answer to the dreaded question. In a quest to find something that I can answer with, here are some simplified responses from the Whole 9 gang (read the whole article here: https://whole9life.com/2010/03/the-grain-manifesto/), that I am going to try:
1. Most grains are highly processed, even whole grains. They break down into glucose quickly. There is a whole lot of carbohydrates in a small package, leading to an insulin spike.
2. Grains provoke an inflammatory response in the gut. Basically, the grain proteins (i.e. gluten) cannot break down easily causing various issues, including a breaking through of the intestinal lining sending foreign substances into the blood stream that shouldn’t be there. Thus, producing an attack response- inflammation.
3. Grains have little nutritional value, but lots of calories. Compare a whole wheat bun to a Kale leaf. There is nothing found in grains, that you cannot get from other nutritionally superior sources.
Ah, but grains, especially breads, are so convenient and can be used as quick, easy vehicles in which to eat food. Then the other questions come out…” I want a sandwich, if I cannot have bread, what can I use? Or, I love chips and salsa or guacamole..you mean I have to give that up too?” Using a little ingenuity, and some preparations, you can still enjoy a “sandwich” or your “chips and salsa”. Here are some options you may not have thought about:
– celery, peppers, cucumber, zucchini, or squash (or other veggies) to scoop up your favorite salsa, guacamole, or dip
– Use baked sweet potato chips as the “bread” for your next burger or pulled pork
– Half a tomato. Scoop out the middle of the tomato (each half) and scoop that yummy chicken salad in and cover it with the other half…now, eat it like a sandwich
– Lettuces & kale are great for wrapping up burgers, using as “taco shells”, or as “spring roll wraps”
– Turn an avocado into a “boat” for shrimp or crab salad
– Roasted zucchini or summer squash filled with spaghetti meat and top with pepperoni or other pizza toppings . Broil for a few seconds to heat altogether
– Other fruits & veggies to use: jicama, pears, and apples
Have we sparked your imagination? From left to right in the picture above, you see the following menu items that I made fairly quickly the other night: Spicy Pulled Pork Slider with Paleo Cole Slaw on Sweet Potato Chips, Better Taco using Venison burger, Grilled Peppers & Onions in a Romaine Lettuce leaf, Dilled Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Apples served in a Tomato, and Spicy Guacamole with Peppers and Cucumber Spears.
One final note… you can turn the above ideas into fun and interesting Appetizers, Paleo Tapas plates, or a TRULY healthy dish to your next event.
Acknowledgements: Grain information from whole9life.com article entitled, “The Grain Manifesto” on March 3, 2010.