Have I mentioned how cheap meat is in Brazil? Like, ridiculously, and even almost suspiciously cheap. Suspiciously in the sense of, “am I sure I’m not buying a piece of meat that’s one week old and has been dropped on the floor a couple of times at this price?”. Did I mention it’s also grass-fed, because all cows in Brazil graze happily about in big open pastures? I know, I am living in the dream country of every paleo follower on a budget. To give you an idea, 1 kg of ground beef costs around…wait for it… less than 3€, with this wonderful exchange rate that we’ve been having lately. That’s about 3.8 USD. I know! Protein for everybody! It’s funny how chicken and turkey have almost become pricey sources of protein next to all this super affordable red carne. Or maybe it’s just because I am tempted to leap more often for the super-duper prime steak and have left the everyday old chicken for more boring meals. I take that back, chicken is never old or boring, we love our chicken too.
Looking a year back before I changed my eating habits, I followed a close to vegetarian diet. Lots of vegetables, lots of grains, some chicken or turkey here and there, the occasional omelet or canned tuna, no red meat. I wasn’t even hungry for it. If I went to a restaurant where the house specialty was their delicious BBQ rib eye steak, you could be certain that I would order the baked salmon or risotto dish. I was not the slightest interested in meat. When I decided to switch to a gluten-free and paleo diet, I was served with all the health benefits I expected from my decision: better digestion, improved skin, increase in energy, weight loss, no more brain fog or sleepiness, all of it… along with a freakishly huge appetite for meat. ME, the granola and apples for breakfast girl, started craving meat as soon as I got out of bed in the morning. Not that I have turned my back on granola, should you have missed this amazeballs recipe I posted a few weeks ago for homemade gluten-free and grain-free granola.
I was reluctant at first, I had barely touched meat in my life before. I didn’t even know how to order it at the butcher’s counter. What about how bad it supposedly is for you? I’ve been reading Robb Wolfe’s The Original Human Diet lately, and I realize how wrong I had it by avoiding protein and saturated fats all my life and relying on empty carbohydrates which, whether they be brown rice or white bread, are all assimilated in the end inside your body as spoonfuls of sugar… which unfortunately did indeed help the medicine go down a lot as a result. It explains why I felt like I was permanently starving, why I gained weight in spite of eating small portions of what I thought to be healthy food and depriving my body of what it is actually genetically programmed to eat. Very good book, and surprisingly hilarious for a nutritionist.
I started writing this post without the intention to ramble so much on the paleo diet but since I’m coming to the end of my first Whole30 (yay for me), I have done a lot of thinking this month on addictions – especially sugar – and what paleo eating is about to me: eating real food. Putting back on the shelf that “harmless” 0-Calorie Coca-Cola Zero because I can’t possibly understand what’s on the label but I know I shouldn’t be putting it into my body if I can’t pronounce it. Focusing on plant-based foods like vegetables and fruit, natural sources of protein and healthy fats, nuts and seeds, while avoiding the processed junk and nutritiously empty foods. Every person is free to choose what they want to eat, and each person that chooses paleo will have their motives and conclusions on the subject. For some it might be better body strength and performance, for others maintained weight loss, for others dealing with food allergies and gluten intolerance. What I like about Robb Wolfe’s way of approaching it is by saying, the only way you can form an opinion on the paleo diet is by trying it and seeing the results for yourself. For me, without a doubt, the benefits have been clear in so many aspects of my life, from ending allergies and painful digestive issues that had me bundled up on the floor pleading for the universe’s sweet mercy, to discovering an ability for sports which I used to think I would never have, without mentioning the fact that finally, for once in my life, I no longer feel like I am always hungry at every hour of the day. Ok I’m going to stop here otherwise I could go on and on and on. Bottom line, I’m so happy with how I eat and feel as a result, and that’s what’s important.
Now, food: here’s a recipe that I often made in my “I only eat chicken” days which I love, that’s ready in minutes and gives great flavor to seemingly ordinary chicken breasts. If you have some time ahead of you, I strongly recommend brining the chicken breasts in a salt-water solution for 3 to 6 hours before preparing it so as to have an irresistibly juicy and tender chicken. I explain more about brining here. Avoid the honey if you are doing a Whole30, I made it that way last week and it tastes delicious and a little more pungent.
Makes 3-4 servings
1 lb (450g) of boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
Juice squeezed from 1 lime
1,5 tbsp honey
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Finely mince the ginger and slice the chicken breasts in smaller cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the ginger, lime juice, garlic and cayenne pepper to the chicken and coat all the pieces with the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge for it to soak in the flavors. If you’re going for quick and easy and are short for time, skip the marinating and proceed directly to the next step.
3. Heat coconut oil in a pan on high heat and pour in the chicken pieces along with the marinade. Seize for a few minutes on high heat stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low, add the honey, cover and simmer for 8 minutes until they are tender and thoroughly cooked. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately with the juice from the marinade.