I have been wrong. Wrong for years.
I took the US Government food pyramid seriously. I made sure and eat lots of whole grains every day, sometimes every few hours. I proselytized on my soapbox for over the past three years on the glorious benefits of whole grains, low fat and small portions of meat in my food column and blog. I was a stellar health nut, by conventional standards. It has been a little un-nerving and a bit humbling to find out that I have been wrong.
You see, all the craziness of our modern diet started about 10,000 years ago when our burly ancestors, who had been on earth for 200,000 years as hunters and gathers, decided to start growing things. Everything went pretty well until they started growing grains. I know, I know, it is recommended by our very own government’s health pyramid to eat 6 – 11 serving a day. But I’m here to tell you, don’t believe it. Grains are bad for us.
Why? You see, grains are digested like sugars. They are just long chains of glucose that the body has to use insulin to process. Our modern diet is filled with so many grains, sugars and processed foods that we are always in the state of insulin rush. Insulin is constantly running around in our digestive system, like tidy housecleaners trying to mop up the mess of sugary carbohydrate laden foods and storing the energy into fat cells.
Insulin is such a good housekeeper that when it tidies up all the glucose in our blood, our body goes into a crash. You know what I mean, we’ve all been there. Then our brain, who loves glucose SCREAMS at us, “EAT MORE SUGAR, I NEED GLUCOSE NOW!” So we do, usually more empty calories called grains. “Modern” humans are so busy eating empty calories that they are starving for nutrition. We crave something, so we eat more and get more insulin production making us fatter. Vicious circle, I tell you!!
To make a long story short, cause I could go on forever, changing our diet to that based on fruits, veggies, nuts, good fats and lean clean meats like our hunter and gatherer ancestors, has many great benefits. If you would like to learn more, here are a few web sites that explain it all in more detail.
I have been off grains, for the most part, for 2 months now. I can attest, that beside being pain free in my knees, (see first post here) Some of the wonderful benefits that I have experiencing are higher energy, mental well being, mental clarity, (great side benny!) need less sleep, less cravings and a lot less garbage and recycling. Oh and I have lost 10 pounds effortlessly, without counting calories. (Yippee!)
One of the foods that I have dearly missed has been Mexican. It is loaded with corn, cheese and beans. Drool. I decided that I did not have to do without this fabulous food just modify it a bit. A Mexican strata would be just the ticket, layered with veggies, organic chicken chorizo, and spices. The pilot version was soooo good that it was gone in one day.
I did put some potatoes in it from our garden. Now technically, potatoes aren’t paleo but can be used in small portions. One could make their own green chili enchilada sauce and it would be much healthier and reduced in sodium. Even though I have heard it is so easy, I haven’t done it yet. Ah, the things to do!
Mexican Vegetable Strata
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
2 -6 cloves of garlic minced
1 ½ pounds of bulk chorizo sausage, preferably organic
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of chili powder
2 med zucchini, sliced thick
2 med potatoes, sliced thin
2 med sweet potatoes, sliced thin
A large bunch of kale or chard, roughly chopped
1 28 oz can of green chili enchilada sauce
1 cup of shredded goat cheddar cheese
Get out a glass baking dish, 9 x 11 and oil it lightly and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan melt the coconut oil over medium high heat then add the chorizo and fry till almost cooked through, breaking it into as small as pieces possible. (Smells so good!!) The add the onion and garlic and cook till the sausage is completely done. Take off the cook fire and let cool.
Start this lovely dish, by layering the zucchini in the bottom of the dish. Whip the eggs, cumin and chili powder up into a froth and then pour the eggs over the zucchini. Layer the sweet potato slices in next. Sprinkle a fine layer of the chorizo over the sweet potatoes then a layer of the potato slices. At this point layer in the kale or chard in sheets.. Then one more layer of either sweet potatoes or regular, whatever you have left. Finish the layers with the rest of the chorizo. Pour the can of enchilada sauce evenly over the whole delightful arrangement and top off with the cheese.
Bake in the over till bubbly and the cheese is a golden brown and a tiny bit crusty, about one hour. Let it cool, (even though the caveman in you wants to tear into it!) for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a salad and you have a meal worthy of our ancestors.