As soon as you read the title, most of you might just dismiss this as yet another fad or get-rich-quick scheme invented by lazy people without a better job to do. You might even say diets are for people who are ill or overweight or some such weird problems. But, unlike most diets this is more of a lifestyle, rather than just eating from a prescribed list of foods for weight loss. Let’s leave the most offending word here “Diet” and learn more about what “Paleo” exactly is and why it’s suddenly taking the world by storm. To put it simply, a paleo lifestyle is basically a primal lifestyle. Still confused? Let’s simplify it further, it means leading a life like our ancestors did, think caveman! Now you must wonder if we’ve lost it and started making up wacky stories. Well, this is the brain child of one Dr. Loren Cordain who happens to be one among the world’s leading experts on the natural human diet of our Stone Age ancestors. Now you might ask, “Stone age ancestors? Those things that were just a bit more evolved than apes?” Yup! The very same ones. Yes, those spear wielding men didn’t have much knowledge in the ways of agriculture, technology, reading, writing or modern medicine. But you’ve got to agree that all of them were healthy, strong, lean and mean -machines who could outrun Usain Bolt! The reason being, they weren’t lazy with the food being packaged and delivered to them. Everything that they ate was always gathered from the surroundings or else hunted down.
Then came the agricultural revolution, those cavemen progressed to farming and using a few tools. With this evolution, the food was a little easily available. The downsized the hunting hours to strictly necessary and diet changed to involve grains too. With time, they stopped hunting and gathering altogether because supermarkets made the meats and veggies easily available and sometimes to your doorstep. Then came the final blow to our metabolism, seasonal veg and fruit for which we scrounged around the place were grown everywhere in hothouses and then were available round the year. What happened was the average, evolved homo sapien became overweight, out of shape, stressed out, unhappy, sleep deprived and dying from several preventable diseases. The story seems so bummer, right?
Along came another evolved human who decided that the species needs to go back to its roots to get better. Change your lifestyle, eat the right foods that your ancestors ate, be more active and get energised and stay healthy – that is the motto of this Paleo diet. So, no grains, no sugar, no processed foods – meaning you have to stay away from that drool inducing pasta, that cheesy pizza, the amazing chocolates and colorful candy and all those lentils and cereals. Hmm, what’s left to eat then? meat, fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds, regional veg and fruit and tubers – these are things are considered OK in the paleo diet. The meat also has several restrictions, for example you can’t have grain-fed meat because in the end you’ll be consuming the grain indirectly from the meat. So that rules out most of the supermarket fare and other processed meat available out there. What you can eat is an animal that was raised free-range in a farm i.e. allowed to graze or find its own food. meat2meat can help you here, all the meat are organic and free-range and hence compliant with the paleo diet.
Having said all that, why should we change to the paleo lifestyle? Because you need a better quality of life, as simple as that. And all you need to do is expand your horizons and remove certain types of food from your diet and include different ones. In the end it’ll help you lose weight, build muscle, and get in the best shape of your life (If you wish to, that is). The Paleo Diet is designed such that we start eating how we’re biologically designed to eat, which allows us to tap into our genetic potential and start living healthier immediately.
Now that we have explained the topic as best we could, we are giving you a recipe to get you started. Now you don’t have to start panicking and googling all those almost never available in India ingredients mentioned above (whoever heard of free-range, non-grain fed Chicken available everywhere in India, right?), we’ll start off simple with easily available ingredients. One of the easiest paleo foods that you can get your hands on seafood! Because they are from the sea, miles away from any type of grain and totally rich in Omega 3 fats and necessary proteins. Several birds (or fish) in one stone! So our first paleo food recipe will be a simple Fish taco!
First, yes we do know true Mexican tacos are a dish of a maize tortilla folded around food. And that maize is a kind of grain. We also know that grain isn’t allowed on a paleo diet. So bear with us, but this taco shell is a leafy green called crisp lettuce! Ha, surprised you, didn’t we? Anyway, time for some fun facts about tacos before we head into the kitchen. According to Wikipedia, apparently there is anthropological evidence that the indigenous people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos filled with small fish. And now, Tacos de pescado (“fish tacos“) (which originated in Baja California in Mexico), consist of grilled or fried fish, lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo (tomato salsa), and a sour cream or citrus/mayonnaise sauce, all placed on top of a corn or flour tortilla.
RECIPE: PALEO FISH TACOS
Serves: 2 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes +30 minutes for marination.
Cooking time: 20 minutes.
Total time: 60 minutes.
500 gms – Fish fillets (cut into ½ inch by 3-4 inch strips, washed and dried)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon vinegar
Oil for frying
For the guacamole:
½ a small onion – diced
1fresh red chilli – seeds removed and diced
1 ripe avocado
1 bunch of fresh coriander
6 ripe cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil – for drizzling
salt to taste
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
4 -5 crisp lettuce leaves – washed and pat dried
4-5 Wedges of lemon
A few springs coriander
Mayonnaise or Sour cream – optional
In a deep plate, mix together the salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin powder and the vinegar to a smooth paste. Rub it onto the fish strips and make sure to coat all the pieces with the marinade. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
For the guacamole:
- Cut the avocados, remove the stone and scoop the flesh onto a medium sized bowl.
- Chop or mash it all together until fine and well combined.
- Dump in most of the coriander leaves and diced onion, roughly chop and add the tomatoes, then continue mushing it.
- Add the juice from 1 lime and 1 tablespoon of oil, then season to taste with salt, black pepper and more lime juice, if needed.
- Scatter the remaining coriander leaves and diced chilli over the guacamole. Cover with cling film and store in the fridge until you want to use it. Make a well in the center of your guacamole and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, just before you serve.
Get back to the fish:
- Pour oil into your frying pan (not too much mind you, we’re not deep frying here). Heat it up.
- Fry your fish fillets on each side till cooked or golden (approx. 5 minutes). Do not overcrowd the pan; this will prevent your fish from getting crispy. Fry them in batches of two or three fillets.
- Place your fried fish in plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on your serving plates.
- Spoon a dollop of guacamole into each of the lettuce leaves. Place a few strips of fried fish on top. Garnish with sprigs of coriander, shredded cabbage and a wedge of lemon on the side.
- Serve immediately with sour cream or mayonnaise (if you’re using it).