Paleo Journeys with Lucy Lichtenstein

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Today’s Paleo Journeys guest is Lucy Lichtenstein from Feed Me – Real Food Co. I first met Lucy  a couple of years ago at the Low Carb Down Under conference in Sydney. We have since been catching up for a coffee or lunch whenever we’re in the same city and chatting about our experiences and views on this ever-evolving lifestyle. I see Lucy as a bit of a veteran in the local paleo scene so I thought she would have an interesting perspective on where the movement is heading and her own journey. Lucy is also sharing her love for gelatin together with a recipe for Herbal Tea Gelatin Gummy Squares.

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Paleo Broccoli Pancakes

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I have a thing for savoury pancakes, fritters and latkes – they are really simple to make and can be done for breakfast or dinner; it’s a tasty way to sneak in a few extra veggies; and they are fantastic to add to your lunch box.  For these pancakes I used broccoli and eggs with a little paleo friendly starch/flour and lots of nice seasoning. To be honest, I was happy to shove them in my mouth with just a little mayo or lemon juice, but you can serve them with smoked salmon and radish as finger food, as a side dish for dinner or with some fried eggs or salad. It’s also a great vegetarian dish for those days when you don’t feel like meat.
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Is Quinoa Paleo Friendly?

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Is Quinoa Paleo?   

Hailed as a superfood, quinoa is gluten free, high in protein and nutrient dense. All valid reasons as to why it has become an popular alternative to traditional grains. Infact, the United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of Quinoa, “to raise awareness of the nutritional, economic, environmental and cultural value of a food that has been traditionally cultivated for thousands of years.”

But is quinoa all it’s cracked up to be? And, is it paleo?

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a flowering plant native to the Andes in South America. The crop is grown primarily for its small bead-like seeds that are commercially available in white, red and black. When cooked, the tiny round seeds resemble couscous. The seed is also processed into flakes and flour.

You’ve probably heard quinoa described as a ‘pseudograin’ (or ‘pseudocereal’). This term is given to plants that are used in the same way as grains (like wheat, rice and oats) but are from a different botanical family. Amaranth, buckwheat, chia, and quinoa are all pseudograins. . Quinoa is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) and it’s closest relatives are beets, spinach and chard.

So if it’s not a grain is it Paleo?
On a paleo diet, grains are avoided because they contain gluten and anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid and lectins) which irritate the digestive system; they are also high in carbohydrates and a poor source of nutrients compared to other food like vegetables and animal fats and protein; and finally they are often heavily processed. You can read more about why grains aren’t your friends here.

As a seed, quinoa is gluten free, a complete protein (contains all essential amino acids) and nutrient dense. However, it does contain some of the same properties as grains which are potentially harmful, including anti-nutrients and a high carbohydrate content (53 on the Glycemic Index). Even though the seed is gluten free, many people find quinoa hard to process and digest. This is because of the presence of anti-nutrients such as lectins, saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid.

Let’s look at some of these antinutrients

Saponins, lectins, and protease inhibitors

Plants produce saponins, lectins, and protease inhibitors as a defense mechanism – basically to stop their seeds being eaten and to protect against mold and fungus. When ingested, these chemical compounds irritate the digestive tract causing discomfort, and the predator learns not to eat it again. These compounds are present in varying levels in pseudograins.

Quinoa contains saponins – another compound designed to protect the seed. The highest concentration of saponins are found in the outer casing of the seed, which is waxy and bitter tasting. Interestingly, when hulled and milled into a flour the saponin content is halved, according to this study. The total saponin content of whole quinoa seed is still much lower than that found in soybean or chickpeas (like 3-5 times lower).

Lectins are proteins present in many foods, and only certain types are toxic – like gluten. However those found in pseudograins also cause negative reactions in many people.

Protease inhibitors prevent the digestive enzymes from breaking down the seed – so the seed can pass through the digestive tract and emerge whole, able to germinate. Over consumption of foods containing protease inhibitors can damage the pancreas. Once again, according to this study into the nutrient and antinutrient content of quinoa seed, the level of these inhibitors diminishes significantly with dehulling and milling of the quinoa seed into flour. Quinoa pancakes anyone?

Phytic acid 

Phytic acid is found in grains, nuts, seeds and beans. Phytic acid binds minerals and prevents us from absorbing them. A high phytate diet can result in mineral deficiencies which cause diseases such as osteoporosis and rickets. However, phytic acid can be reduced by sprouting or soaking before cooking.

These anti-nutrients can all contribute to leaky gut, cause inflammation, weaken the immune system, and trigger autoimmune disease. To reduce the impact of these anti-nutrients, it is essential to prepare quinoa by soaking, ‘polishing’ and rinsing the seeds before cooking (more on this below).

For a detailed run down of the anti-nutrients found in pseudograins, see
Weston A Price: ‘Preparing Grains, Nuts, Seeds and Beans for Maximum Nutrition’
‘Less bad but not good: pseudograins and non-gluten grains’

So, is quinoa paleo?

No, but… Quinoa is not strictly paleo, however many people, including me, eat it once in a while for variety. However, I would avoid it if I had any gut problems, an autoimmune condition, or I was trying to reduce my carb intake for weight loss or to correct a metabolic disorder. Why not try swapping it for nutrient dense sides like cauliflower ‘couscous’, sweet potato or squash instead?

How to prepare quinoa – instructions

Quinoa is cooked much like rice, however it should be prepared carefully to remove some of the anti-nutrients to minimise the impact on your gut.

1. Soak 1 cup quinoa in salted water for 8-12 hours (this reduces the phytic acid)
2. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rub the seeds together with your fingers while rinsing under cold running water (this ‘polishing’ removes the coating of saponins)
3. In a pot combine the quinoa with 1.5 cups of water with a pinch of salt (or stock)
4. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low temperature and simmer (lid on) for 10-15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the seeds become almost translucent
5. Rest for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork before serving

References & further reading

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudocereal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

Chauhan G.S., Eskin N.A.M., Tkachuk R., Nutrients adn Antinutrients in Quinoa, Cereal Chemisty, 1991 August; 69(1); 85-88

Khokhar S, Apenten R.K., Antinutritional Factors In Food Legumes and Effects of Processing, The Role of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Human Nutrition, Vol. IV

Ruales J, Nair B.M., Saponins, phytic acid, tannins and protease inhibitors in quinoa (Chenopodium quinia, Wild) Seeds, Food Chemisty, Volume 48, Issue 2, 1993, Pages 137–143


What are your thoughts on quinoa? Do you include it in your diet? Share your comments below.

 

Citrusy Shaved Zucchini & Sardine Salad

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Sardines are not exactly the most appealing fish to eat but they are certainly some of the most nutritious and sustainable. I know that many people struggle with sardines, especially the tinned ones. But as they are so easily available and highly nutrient dense, I always make it my mission to find ways to serve sardines in a more appealing, tasty way. This salad is super simple yet the flavours of the zesty zucchini and sweet roasted red peppers really, and I mean really, compliment the sardines. So much so, that you might even start to like them.

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  • Apple, Pecan & Bacon Butternut Squash Hash(Gaps/Paleo/Vegan options) - Enjoy this tasty hash full of fall flavors! I think I might want to add some eggs to this dish. #food #paleo #GAPS #grainfree #glutenfree #vegan #breakfast #brunch #hash #butternutsquash #apple #pecan #bacon

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  • I love using chorizo to flavour dishes. Pork goes very nicely with prawns and squid and I like the vegetables used in this dish.

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  • Marie Rose dressing is a British condiment – mayo and ketchup mixed together To make it paleo friendly I suggest to make your own mayo using olive oil or find a commercial one using olive or worst case sunflower oil, basically avoid canola or soybean as much as possible. This recipe however, calls for yogurt instead. Just use normal full fat variety and instead of ketchup use some tomato paste.

    Pinned: 11 Sep 2014
  • This is a bit of a prawn ceviche dish but you could easily grill the prawns after marinating if you’re not sure about eating them raw. Great fibre source salad.

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  • Everyone’s favourite meatballs with a difference – no meat! Fresh fish is used, which together with Sicilian herbs and spices creates a light and fresh dish.

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  • Make it Paleo: This recipe contains dairy such as butter and cream, both of which are high fat content and low lactose so perhaps you can get away with it. Otherwise you can probably use ghee and no cream, which will make it a bit thinner in consistency but the flavour of the mushrooms will still be amazing. Beef fillet and standard mushrooms can be used instead and you can add some dried porcini mushrooms for that wild forest flavour.

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  • You don’t really need to dust the meat with flour as you can thicken the sauce with a little tapioca flour or through evaporation method (aka cook with no lid on for the last hour). Peeled white potatoes are fine in small amounts but feel free to replace with sweet potato, swedes, parsnips or throw in zucchini and cauliflower in the last hour.

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  • Use ghee instead of butter if avoiding all dairy (although butter is pretty much fat with hardly any lactose left). Higher-welfare just means free range.

    Pinned: 11 Sep 2014

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