Paleo vs Vegetarian

The Paleo Diet versus the Vegan diet and Vegetarians:

As you may have noticed, I do not “promote” any specific diet on this website. I post science-based nutrition, cover all the diet-types, and try to keep a neutral stance whenever possible. I believe that every body is different, every mind is different, and every person has their own needs and limitations. (Especially since the mind plays and even larger role in how our body reacts than just the chemistry from food.)

That being said, I am pretty sick of being bombarded by proponents of the Paleo Diet. Since I work in the fitness world, I get to hear about it day in and day out. I also get randomly accused of being “unhealthy” because of my compassionate stance towards animals, just because someone sees what I’m eating for lunch.

I don’t like to push my personal dietary choices on other people, but I got to say, I’m pretty sick of everyone pushing there’s on me. So, I decided to talk about the Paleo diet from a anthropology perspective. And I wanted to show some awesome vegetarian and vegan athletes. So enjoy, and let me know what experiences you have had!

Should I eat a low-fat diet?

 Should I eat a low-fat diet? Is saturated fat bad for me?

The low-fat diet has been around for many decades, and I still hear nutritionists touting it as a the main way to lose weight. But does a low-fat diet really help you lose bodyfat? Is saturated fat evil? Will low-fat yogurt fix all of my problems?

In short, the answer is…no. But that’s a bit too simple.

And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting a high-fat diet. or at least not a diet filled with fried foods and cheeseburgers. You can go overboard with anything, and I’ve seen some meals that could cause heart palpitations by sight alone. (Creamy Alfredo with bacon, ham, and butter, anyone?) But except for extreme overuse, integrating fats into your diet can be incredibly helpful, it’s really the source of the fat you need to worry about.

Fat can help make us feel more full, and keep our sugar cravings and low-blood sugar attacks at bay. Our body uses fat for various repairs and energy; and I actually lost a lot of weight when I stopped my low-fat habits. It’s been proven that there have been more heart problems and fat-gain once the low-fat diet gained popularity.

coconut oilThe video below describes the simple chemical make-up of the different types of fat. I’ve also written an article with similar information giving the chemical make-up of the different fats, and another article about the dangers of vegetable oil. Start there to get an idea of the science behind it. But here are my basic suggestions:

Saturated Fat:
Saturated fat has gotten a bad rap, but it’s actually an important part of our diet. Our brains use it, and our cells use it for elasticity. Like any calorie, it’s also a form of energy. And it’s actually easier for our body to convert fat into energy than it is to convert protein into energy! So I purposely make sure that fat is included in most of my meals. I prefer saturated fats from vegetable sources, since the medium chain triglycerides are a quick source of energy, and most vegetable sources have other benefits (coconuts are magical). But fat is very “dense” in calories, so don’t overdo it. If you eat animal protein, you’re automatically getting saturated fat, and I wouldn’t suggest adding any more. There are various amounts of saturated fat in most oils and plant foods, the percentage just varies greatly. I’m only listing the sources that contain a large percentage.
Here are the common sources of saturated fat:

  • Meat of any kind
  • Dairy (cheese, milk, butter, and all other forms of dairy).
  • Coconut Oil
  • Palm Oil

Monounsaturated Fat:
Monounsatured fat is found mostly in plant sources. (Olives, nuts, seeds, etc.) The most common source is olive oil. Saturated fat is the most stable, but monounsaturated is the second most stable. Unsaturated molecules are “empty” and are open to becoming rancid or destroyed by heat. If unprocessed and unheated, then this fat is very healthy. In monounsatured fats there is only one molecule that is “unsaturated,” so the rest of the fat is stable, and it will only get partially destroyed. This is safe to eat raw, or at a very low heat. Most plant sources have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, but they have a varying percentage of each. Here’s the ones that are high in monounsaturated and low in poly:

  • Olive Oil
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Hazelnuts

 Polyunsaturated Fat:

Polyunsaturated fat has several unsaturated molecules. This makes it very unstable, and easily susceptible to damage. In a raw, unprocessed form, these fats can be very good for you. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are both polyunsaturated fats. But…most of these oils can be damaged just in the processing to make them, so they’re often already destroyed by the time you buy them. I never cook with polyunsaturated fats, and I use them more as a supplement (like cold-pressed chia seed oil or flax oil.) You also get these fats when you eat nuts, seeds, or other plant products. There are even trace amounts in animal fats, although it’s usually destroyed by cooking.
Here are some common polyunsaturated fat sources:

  • Safflower Seed Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Flax Oil
  • Chia Seed Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Sunflower Seeds

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free, Vegan, and Peanut Free!)

Salted “Peanut Butter” Cookies (peanut free)

Sunbutter Cookies I had a baking session with my good friend Aaron Ribant from Seriously Ripped Abs. (Really, though, you have to check out his abs.) We were making a healthier, starch-free version of peanut butter cookies. He’s also a photographer, so I was excited to get some gorgeous photos, and I wanted to perfect the recipe for a dinner party. Then I got the email from a attendee: “Just to let you know, I have a serious peanut allergy. Like, peanuts = death.”Oh no! My dessert plans were foiled. But not to fear, for sunflower seed butter came to my rescue.

When you have a loved one who’s allergic to peanut butter, (whether it’s a sensitivity or eminent death), it’s challenging to find an alternative. Almond butter is good in its own way, but it really doesn’t satisfy a peanut butter craving.

Sunflower Seed ButterLuckily, I have discovered the magic of sunflower seed butter (aka sunbutter). It’s got such a great flavor and smooth texture, and it’s the closest thing to peanut butter than I’ve found.

Sunflower seeds are also very nutrient dense, so much so that I’ve done an entire article on them! See my food spotlight for nutritional information on sunflower seeds.

These peanut butter cookies are also gluten free, vegan, paleo friendly, and delicious. Let me know if you come up with any fun variations! And check out the normal recipe with peanut butter on Aaron’s blog.

Ingredients:

½ cup almond flour*

½ cup cashew meal*

¼  teaspoon sea salt Sunbutter Cookies

coarse salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup creamy sunbutter (or peanut butter, if you’re not worried about allergies).

¼ cup honey/agave nectar/maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegan shortening**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Cashew Meal/Flour has recently become available, and I find that gluten free cookies come out creamier and sweeter when used. But, if you don’t have any available to you, you can just use almond flour instead. Trader Joe’s seems to be the cheapest place to find these ingredients, but you can also order them in bulk on Amazon.

**If using peanut butter, increase to 2 tbsp.

Directions:

In a food processor or a bowl, place all ingredients. If using a food processor, blend until smooth. In a bowl, use a hand blender or a whisk until ingredients are completely mixed. (If mixing by hand, mGluten Free Cookie Batterake sure that there aren’t any clumps or “pockets” of certain ingredients sticking together).

Take spoonfuls of dough (about 1 Tbsp) and scoop the onto a well-greased or parchment-lined pan. Use a fork to flatten in a criss-cross pattern, similar to a peanut butter cookie.

Bake at 350° for 5-9minutes until golden around the edges

While the cookies are still warm, sprinkle the coarse salt over the top of each cookie. You won’t need much.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TOUCH COOKIES UNTIL COOL. Once they’ve cooled off, the cookies hold together nicely. But when they’re fresh out of the oven, they will fall into a pile of crumples if you attempt to remove them from the pan too soon. To expedite the process, I will place the pan on a pot-holder in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Once they’re cool enough to be solid, carefully remove from the pan and enjoy!

Sunbutter Cookie Recipe