Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Nature's Sweetness

Hey everyone!  I'm back for another installment of My Adventures in Transferring to Paleo Eating.  I certainly have new observations to share.  It's kind of fun using myself as a "test subject."

So, how Paleo am I at this point?  I'll say I'm not all the way there yet, and I don't know if I ever will be 100% Paleo.  There is a lot of discussion about certain foods some Paleo eaters say are ok, where others say they aren't.  I'm not going to worry too much on the controversy, and I'm going to focus on what foods make me feel the best and render the best performance in the gym.  What I will say is that I'm most focused on getting rid of grains, beans, seed oils, dairy, alcohol, and sugar. 

I had a really good week.  Food preparation on the weekends takes a lot of time, energy and patience, but it really worked out well, and as the week continued I found that I stopped eating in between meals and ate three meals.  At times, I even found it hard to eat my lunch.  I was surprised at how quickly my appetite diminished as I ate nourishing foods, and even more so, how quickly I became full when eating my meals.

I'm still quite baffled by my appetite changes.  As I sit here blogging, drinking water and noshing on a few dark chocolate banana bites (something to definitely get used to), I wonder why my appetite changed so much, and I'm pretty sure I know why.  The Sweet Potato.

I feel like I need to write a poem on the love I have of the sweet potato.  In years past, I never paid much attention to them.  I ate these lovely delights in pies that my mom made or as yams with a delicious sugary glaze.  I never ate them baked, roasted or as french fries. As a matter of fact, the one time I did have sweet potato fries, I really didn't like them (probably because of the coating on them).  Now, all of a sudden, I can't get enough of them, and I eat a baked sweet potato everyday.  Why?  Because I honestly feel it is nature's true superfood.
When I did my first Whole 30 last year, I found I had a hard time finding items to eat for breakfast besides eggs.  My trainer suggested I eat a sweet potato for breakfast, which I found odd, but I tried it anyway.  I diced some up and roasted them with some ground meat to make turkey hash.  I also baked a few to eat with some ghee (clarified butter), cinnamon and salt.  What I found is that when I ate a baked sweet potato at breakfast combined with a good protein, I didn't eat.  I didn't eat for a very long time.  It kept me so full for so long that I found myself making myself eat lunch just so I could have some fuel for my afternoon workouts, and my workouts were amazing.  So, why did I stop eating them?  I never should have.  They are pure energy and a natural appetite suppressant.  Why?  Well...
  • Sweet potatoes are highly fibrous.  Fiber takes a very long time to digest, and if you combine that with a good protein, which also takes a long time to digest, your body is going to be working overtime to digest that food and transfer it to the nutrients to kick ass all day long. Long digestion = I'm not hungry
  • Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, and as a diabetic, that's a bonus for me.  It's a complex carbohydrate so it takes a while to digest, and will not impact blood sugar.  Spikes in blood sugar drive hunger, which is probably why you can feel hungry an hour after eating a pound of pasta. 
I'm sure there are other reasons why sweet potatoes are the bees knee's, but I don't want to bore you to death.  There are many ways to cook them, but I prefer
baking them.  Sure, it can take up to an hour or longer depending on the size, but I could care less. I bake them on the weekends, and keep them in the fridge until I tear into them at breakfast.  Here's why...

Look closely, if you can.  Do you see the clear liquid that's coming out of them?  What is that?  It's natures sweetness! Pure, natural sugar.  When you bake sweet potatoes, you can tell when they are done because your house starts smelling like a candy factory.  The natural sugars bubble out of the potato, and when you let them rest and eat them later, the potato just falls out of the skin.  Add some ghee, cinnamon and salt, and you have the yummiest breakfast treat that will keep you full all morning.  Don't believe me?  I dare you to try it. Eat one with a great protein, and you tell me when you start feeling hungry.  My mom recently did, and she said she didn't get hungry until 2 pm! 

My muscles certainly appreciate them.  I'm still lifting crazy weight and embarrassing people in the gym, which is not my intention, but I am quite flattered by the compliments.  I'm eating to perform. That's why I'm doing this. 

My breakfasts and lunches are prepared for the week.  For lunch this week, I'm trying Avocado Basil Chicken Salad.  It turned out great - very tasty but not really pretty to look at.  I also ate my first paleo snack, dark chocolate covered bananas.  I'm not a chocolate fan so this is a lot for me to handle.  Turns out they are pretty good since the sugar in the banana balances the bitterness of the chocolate, and it's hella bitter (90% cocoa content).  Dark chocolate cocoa level must be 70% or higher for any chocolate desserts.  What's up next? I need to get some raw honey, and maybe I'll make my own Sriracha.  That way I can have spicy mayo!  I'm getting pretty ambitious.  Maybe I'll Get Lucky and find a Paleo jelly belly....  I doubt it! 

Basil Avocado Chicken Salad - all recipes are on my Pinterest Page.

I used 90% Lindt Supreme Dark for these banana bites. They store in the freezer. 
One of my favorite meals - Cracklin' Chicken Thighs and Garlic Mashed Cauliflower. I swear I'm eating mashed potatoes, and I'm not! YUM!

Last, but not least.  Ghee! It's also called clarified butter. It's very expensive in the store, so I bought my own organic butter, and took a stab at removing the milk solid myself.  Turned out beautiful. Very rich in buttery taste. It's a great, shelf stable cooking oil or adding to sweet potatoes and other yummy things.