New beginnings

I have started a new beginning by going backwards.

It all started when my son, age 25 which we will call “Gorp”, decided that he had found the solution to both my weight and knee issues. “Mom, you have got to try the caveman diet! I think you’ll love it.” The caveman diet? Are you kidding me? Me? No way. I haven’t been born in this glorious age of food to go back in time to eat raw meat while getting eaten by mosquitoes or bigger things! Particularly when he informed me that there would be no eating of bread, grains, sugar or beans. No way, not this girl.

Fast forward 9 months to a raining May day. My knees, which were damaged severely in a skiing accident 30 years ago, were having a hard day. More than that, they were having a hard month! I felt like I was dragging my legs around, weighted down by the pain from osteoarthritis. I made an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon to start my supartz injections again, which are all I have left between me and a knee replacement.

Gorp, got me in a weak moment and once again gave me his paleo (short for Paleolithic) diet plug. “Mom, give it a try! You won’t hurt anymore.” Fine. Just to get him off my back, I’ll give it a try. Huff.

The first day on this diet I was wild eyed and in a blind panic. What will I eat if I can’t stick something between two pieces of bread??? I stood in the kitchen, frozen. Hungry and frozen. Fortunately my son was home and got industrious and made us a delicious tuna salad stuffed in green pepper halves served next to apple slices. Ah, not so bad. I feel good and that wasn’t that difficult. I think I can do this.

After 2 weeks of eating mostly a diet free of grains, legumes, and sugar , a funny thing happened. My knee pain just stopped. I mean, it was like a light switch was flicked. No more pain. I went ahead and went to my pre-scheduled doctor’s appointment, for good measure. My doctor just shook his head, perplexed why I just stopped having pain. But I knew why. We are what we eat.

So, I am off on a new adventure by going backwards. I have been eating this new way, more or less, for about 2 months and quite frankly, loving it. I love it. I LOVE IT! Which is so cool. I still have to take forays back into the grain and sugar world occasionally, just to remember how awful I feel from it. And then gladly go back to the cavewoman café.

This blog will be devoted to my exploration and recipes in this new life of eating and being healthy. I will be getting on my soapbox occasionally, sharing wonderful recipes and bringing you along the way as I study and learn the old ways in a new world.

My first recipe I will be sharing is a nut bar recipe that I picked up off of Mark Sisson’s web site. Great place to hang out and read, BTW. No lack of info from this dynamo hum.  This nut bar recipe literally got me through the first 2 weeks of going backwards in time. It was something I could eat in a pinch when I was in a hurry. They are delicious!

Just remember that nuts should account for about 5 % of our calories. Something I’m still working on. Sometimes I don’t put the coconut in them and use a different nuts, like walnuts which are loaded with omega 3s, and different fruits. Get creative and have fun!

Cavewoman Cafe bars
These are amazing! You will find these portable protein nuggets a staple in your life.
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 cup of pecans
  • ½ cup of nut flour,
  • (I used Bob’s red mill hazelnut flour, more local ya know)
  • ½ cup of unsweetened dried coconut
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup of coconut oil
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of dried fruit, like cranberries
  1. Preheat the primal cooking fire (oven) to 350 degrees and toast the nuts until golden brown stirring occasionally. Watch them carefully, they’ll go from golden to black fast! Once they are toasted nicely, toss them in the stone grinder, (the food processor or blender) and give them a few pulses till they are a coarse meal and stir into the nut flour in a medium bowl.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, warm up the coconut oil and almond butter for about 20 seconds, in the radiant zapper, (microwave) and stir them together well. (Or use a double boiler to do this) Add the honey, vanilla, and salt then mix till all creamy and you are starting to drool. Fold the nut mix into the honey mix then add the fruit. Pat into an 8 x 8 baking dish and stick in the ice cave (fridge) for 1 hour or more till nice and solid. Cut into squares and try not to grunt when eating. Keep in the ice cave to store.



  1. says

    Yum, these look delish! And congrats on the new pain free life. I’ve heard of this diet and although I agree it surely has loads of benefits I have an undying love for good bread…though only occasionally. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince me!

    • ziabaki says

      I was honestly so hooked on bread when I went on this eating plan, that I was eating bread with my stir fry. BAD! Now I don’t even miss it. I am so amazed. More to come!

      • Hannah says

        I was the same way! Carb and sugar lover! I baked my own bread every week, and was known for my baked goods. I genuinely do not miss those things, and after I decide to eat them, regret it because of how awful it makes me feel. So much more energy, I sleep better, satisfied, little to no cravings. So much better!

        • ziabaki says

          I really miss baking. BUT! There are quite a few paleo baked goods that I bake now and then for a treat. Nice to meet you!

    • wireddavinci says

      You don’t have to totally give up bread! Just start with the stuff that is best for you… The stuff the Paleo/Primal diets allow for, and lots of it. Once you are ready to give up the bread *then* give up the bread!! At that stage, you **won’t even have to try**. And you know what?? If you still eat some bread sometimes, that’s up to you. It isn’t really a “diet”. It’s just knowledge of what food is doing to/for your body. Do you want the bread? Eat. The. Bread. It’s OK. I promise 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. says

    I found you on Tastespotting and I’ll definitely be following you! I’m interested in the Paleolithic diet – I don’t think I’d be able to do it, at least not while I live at home and have people annoyed with my already “ridiculous” healthy habits 😉 but I definitely admire those who actually go through with it!

    I enjoyed this post and look forward to more. 🙂

    • ziabaki says

      I didn’t think I could do it either, but it has been amazing. I wish you good luck in trying it when you are ready. Took me a while, let me tell ya!

  3. Krista says

    Just found you through foodgawker. I loved the recipe instructions! These bars look great and even better, I’m glad your knees are not hurting anymore.

  4. Beth says

    I’m baking these bars now, so far so good! Thanks for the great recipe, I look forward to keeping up with them.

  5. says

    congrats on the new beginnings! looks like you’ve found great success. i look forward to checking out your goodies and primal tips!

  6. Abigail says

    Hey Dana!
    That’s awesome that you are feeling great! and sharing it with the world:):) It sounds like all is well in your world:)

  7. cinnamonquill says

    Wow, these are some good looking bars; I recently posted some marginally similar bars, but I like that yours have less sugar (and hazelnut flour!).

    I can’t believe your knee pain just disappeared. Yes, we should all probably take a very close look at our diets, and often.

    Would it be okay to use this photo/link on my new site, Thanks 🙂

  8. says

    Found you on gluten free feed. Welcome to foodblogging! I am intrigued by the paleo diet. I am prediabetic, and although I’ve always eaten pretty healthfully, I’ve given my diet a huge overhaul. A lot of what I make and eat would probably fall into the paleo diet as it is. Tell me, why are you only supposed to eat 5% nuts? I eat a lot of nuts for snacking purposes.
    Funny thing, I actually studies paleonanthropology in grad school. Perhaps that makes me a perfect candidate for the paleo diet???

    • ziabaki says

      Howdy! I would recommend you read Rachael Matesz’s book, “The Garden of Eating.” It so clearly explains the Paleo diet, or as she calls it, “a produced based diet.” It is a little expensive, $45, but make sure and order it from her web site as everywhere else it is $100. Well worth it though. I think you are a brilliant candidate for this way of life both physically and mentally! (being a paleonanthropology grad! Too Funny!) Anyways, thanks for the encouragement. Rachael encourages that nuts only be 5% of your diet if you are looking to keep the nutrient dense foods to a minimum for optimal weight. If that is no problem, then nut away! (It is an issue with me.) Looking forward to hearing more from you!

  9. says

    Waw!! I just stumbled on these nut bars on gluten free feed & i am glad that I did!! These GF almond butter, nuts & fruit squares look amazing & mighty tasty!! I love to use almond butter & coconut oil too!

    MMMMMMMM,…Many greetings from a fellow recently GF foodie fan from Brussles, Belgium!

  10. Lyda says

    I’m interested in making these for my fellow paleo friends for the holidays instead of cookies. But I’m also trying to figure out if I can make these for my brother who is a vegan (he doesn’t eat honey. And I can’t stand that he’s vegan, but whatever). Do you think there is something that could replace the honey?

  11. Suzanne says

    These do look yummy! Do you substitute the walnuts for the almonds or the pecans? And what could you substitute for the almond butter? (I’ve had allergic reactions to large quantities of almonds previously and would need to tweak this just a little.) Thanks!

    • ziabaki says

      Sure any nut will do. Pecans make a quick and delicious butter that would be easy to use. Are you allergic to Pecans? Walnuts also make a great butter, then use walnuts in the rest of the recipe. Macadamia nuts are also a wonderful substitute. Good luck!

      • Suzanne says

        Thanks for the quick response! I just got finished making my variation on it – had to use buckwheat flour (no hazelnut @ the store); used walnuts and cashews for the nuts, sunflower butter instead of the almond butter (useful since I can use it for my DDs lunches – nut-free zone at their school), and raisins (the dried cranberries all had added sugar -boo!) The batter tasted de-li-cious!

  12. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe and the photos! My husband and I tried these out a few weeks ago and are now addicted to them. Fabulous!

    • ziabaki says

      They should last forever! Well, not forever, but as long as it takes to eat them. They are all stable ingredients. Thanks for coming to visit.

  13. says

    I just like the helpful information you supply to your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here frequently. I am reasonably certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right right here! Good luck for the following!

  14. says

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this amazing site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

  15. says

    I used to get enormous pain in my muscles post-workouts and aching hips in the winter. I have been close to paleo (off most grains except for rice; add in the odd splash of soy milk) for 4 months now and feel awesome. I don’t have aching hips this winter and can now train hard and fast and still go and get into more exercise the day after (today is my first time training 3 days in a row in I don’t know how long!). I never would have thought that a grain-filled diet was slowing me down so much! Will never be going back! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  16. Sandy says

    I just made these tonight. I made a half batch and scooped them into mini cupcake papers and popped them into the frig. They were great and looking forward to making more of them! My son and husband really liked them as well. I left out the dried coconut. There is enough coconut flavor from the oil. Plus, I like the dried fruit, so added more of that in my recipe.

  17. marion says

    my goodness your blog is so nice and the pictures are beautiful. I’m from mfp, and am trying paleo. Cant wait to try some of your recipes!!

    • ziabaki says

      Thank you so much! I love doing it. It is a really fun hobby. Are we friends on MFP? If so, what is your MFP name? And if we aren’t befriend me!

  18. Millie says

    I am confused! In line 18 of the article the author says for 2 weeks mostly on grains legume and sugar free an amazing thing happened! Is this diet meant to be grain free or grain full?? Thanks.

  19. Chris says

    Any suggestions for dried fruit that doesn’t have added sugar? I’ve not been able to find even dried cranberries that don’t have it. Boo!

    • ziabaki says

      I suggest looking at your local health food store. That is where I get mine. The dried cranberries that they have there are sweetened with fruit juice, so not too bad. Most raisins that are there are not sweetened at all and dried and dates apricots usually do not have added sugar too. Good luck!

  20. says

    Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga
    group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Thank you

  21. says

    You are so awesome! I don’t suppose I have read through something like that before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

    • ziabaki says

      Why thank you! (blush) I do love love love doing this blog. So much fun. Wish I could devote more time to it but work full time and am developing another business so it is purely a hobby. Thanks for dropping by!

  22. Anna says

    I’ve been going through many digestive issues and tried so many different foods and diets. Right now I’m on a super restricted elimination diet and my doctor wants me to add more protein in the form of soaked nuts. Well I soaked the nuts and toasted them and found this recipe which I made tonight. It is incredible!!!! So glad I found your page, this recipe actually makes eating enjoyable again 🙂 I added a mixture of figs, plums and apricots instead of cranberries and it was excellent. Thank you!

  23. Dan says


    I love reading stories like this. Came across your link from another site. I’m so happy for you and the relief you’ve found. That is such a wonderful blessing!!! Seems I went Paleo about the same time you did ;)! It has been such a blessing in my life too…going from serious chronic Migraines (often had trips to the ER) to pretty much zilch!! I literally feel born again, and do things physically in my 30’s (like Parkour…LOL) when I struggled with maintaining a basic workout routine in my 20’s due to the migraines it would trigger.

    To the others on here that want to go Paleo, but it feels like too much change or an undesirable burden…it’s really not. Change usually feels overwhelming simply cause it’s moving us out of our comfort zone, but I can honestly say it takes me less time (unless you nuke everything) to prepare my meals. And the added benefits of health and wellness…well, that buys me more time in and of itself simply from not being incapacitated from pain or the ‘digestion process’…lol. Give it a try, commit a month…If you give it an honest shot I can guarantee you won’t wanna go back…unless you enjoy pain and overall cruddy health :P!

    To your wellness, prosperity and health :),

    • Annette Powell says

      This sounds a lot like the Wheat Belly diet…I’ve cut out most of the gluten grains, and eat very little of the others…I love the sound of this recipe and will follow you….I also feel much better without all the grains….we can have milk products, and other types of sweetners, but the wheat belly book tells you why getting off the gluten type grains makes you feel better….just in case someone is curious. Can’t wait to try these! Also enjoyed your references to your appliances! 🙂 I too decided to change my eating habits because I’m sick of hurting and tired of all the sinus headaches and infections I’ve had over the years. Thanks for more great ideas, Annette

  24. says

    Hi there .. I’m about to do your recipe .. you say Nut Flour .. is this bought or made. On investigating there seems to be a big difference between nut flour and nut meal .. (the latter being just whizzed up nuts) … I live in a small rural town in Spain so getting things like nut flour is pretty impossible. Can get the nuts a plenty tho’. Anyone else any ideas on this aspect vis a vis the recipe?

    • ziabaki says

      Hummm, this recipe is such a flexible one I bet you could use nut meal and get away with it. If you do want to try nut flour though, you could always order some, which is what I do since I live in a rural area as well. Give the nut meal a try though, I think it will be fine. 🙂

  25. Barbara Staton says

    I’ve been eating primal for 9 months and I too love it. I’ve been looking for a recipe just like this one. I can’t wait to try it. Look forward in reading more blog entries.

  26. says

    I found you on pintrest and so glad I did. I might have some recipes you would like on like black bean brownies, and coconut fudge. I am running to the store right now to make these. thanks again.

  27. Julie says

    I’m sure I’m just missing something, but when do I add the dried coconut. This looks so good, I really don’t want to mess it up!

  28. says

    I was wondering, in terms of portability, is there a way to ensure that these stay “sticking together” for a bit longer? Ours seem to kind of start falling apart after just a few minutes outside of fridge? We are probably doing something wrong!

    • ziabaki says

      The coconut oil is a huge factor here. If it is warm weather they will be more apt to melt. If it is cold-ish, they will stick together better. I suggest sticking them in the freezer to get em nice and chilled before taking them out into the world. Also are you using enough oil? Too much honey? Those factors will also effect how crumbly the bars will be. let me know what you figured out. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

    • ziabaki says

      Oh and another factor is how “sticky” your almond butter is. If it is really dry or wet, it will also effect the consistency.

  29. says

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people don’t discuss these issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

  30. says

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anybody getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  31. Cat B. says

    Where did you find unsweetened cranberries? All the ones I come across either have sugar or are “fruit juice infused” I’ll make these with some medjool dates in the mean time. Nummies!

    • ziabaki says

      Our local health food store has the fruit juice sweetened. Not as bad as sugared but if you do not want to eat them dates are an excellent alternative. So are dried apricots too. Nom nom 😛

  32. Julie Williams says

    Just stumbled on your website. I have been looking for a good bar to make. I got off of grains a couple of years ago by reading “Wheat Belly”(great book). Within 2 weeks, the arthritis in my knee and hand were completely gone. I’m glad you found this way of eating.

  33. Renee says

    I have a similar story with relation to the knees. I’ve been eating this way for 2 1/2 years now and love it. I make a similar bar, but add flax and chia seeds, no nut flour, and dates for sweetness and texture. It comes out a bit flatter. Perfect to take when traveling. I use whatever nuts I have on hand. For the latest batch, I added some lemon peel and the crumbs from the bottom of a bag of dried apple chips. It’s never the same twice, but always yummy. Good luck with your journey and continued discovery of so many great resources. Even after 2 1/2 years, there are always new ones to discover (like yours!) The Clothes Make the Girl and Nom Nom Paleo are two of my favorites.

    • says

      Thanks for the lovely comment! I agree, Nom nom and Clothes make the girl are some of my favs too. LOVE love love both of Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed cookbooks are my very favorite. This post was my very first post on this food blog which was 4 years ago now. Wow, times fun while you’re having flies. I ended up getting a knee replacement 2 years ago and am doing fantastic eating paleo and loving life. Here’s to a better, funner and health filled life. ((hugs)) 🙂

  34. REgina says

    Tried these today and I couldn’t help but moan. So delicious. I did use one substitution. I did not have almond butter, so I used cashew butter. So delicious. Like eating a candy bar.

  35. Shannon says

    Is there a suggested serving size for these? Knowing my husband he will think he can eat half the tray since it ” healthy”.

  36. says

    Did you use enough coconut oil? Also you need to stick them in the fridge overnight to firm them up. Never thought of baking them. How’d they turn out?


Leave a Reply