Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Almost Paleo For a Day Salad

This was Christina's response when I suggested that we switch to a paleolithic diet. "But... it will be fun and delicious..and we'll have more energy." I replied. I was trying to sound convincing, but I knew deep down that it was a bad idea. Christina sensed it and she was trying to save me from myself. I was reaching for something. A new obsession. The hope of transcendence to yet another layer of well being. In reality, the path to well being is not a path at all, but a glance inward. I experienced it when I took a moment to sit down with a bag of raw trail mix today and experience all of the sweet naked flavor of a walnut, then an almond, surrendering to my new life as a hunter-gatherer. That was before I called Christina.

"Honey, a new diet is too extreme, too expensive, and too time consuming. What is it that you are really hoping to get out of this?" Christiana said.

I thought about the walnut. Earlier in the day I had scavenged the cafeteria at work, looking for signs of something edible within the paleo diet. The only thing that fit the requirements, was a bag of raw trail-mix. It was nice not to have to make the decision, I was hungry and I ate the only thing I could. No stress, no analysis of nutrient content, cost, or health benefit. I could get used to this kind of shopping.

The paleolithic diet involves eating unsalted nuts, berries, vegetables, meats, eggs, and other fruits. Basically, you eat like a hunter-gatherer, you eat when you are hungry and not because it is mealtime, you avoid anything processed, grain, or dairy. It sounds extreme, and it is, but it also sounds practical. On the paleo diet, you are basically forced to eat actual real food, and you have social support from a whole group of people for doing it. Diets that are so extreme are like mini-communities, where like minds congregate on websites promising to take you on a pilgrimage to longevity and optimum health. Last week I met a raw foods blogger who gets 1/2 million hits on her website each month. Tempting.

In a world where billboards, restaurants, television, friends and co-workers, are all constantly selling or offering processed foods, the social support for eating real is highly appealing. Taking on the title of "Paleo" is appealing, but it puts me in the category of having a restricted diet, which usually begins and ends for me, with obsession. I pulled up to a stoplight, next to a bus with a giant advertisement for pizza. Christina was still talking on the other line. I imagined ordering a pizza, then remembered it was off limits, then immediately got sad and missed pizza. I wanted it so badly that it hurt.

Restriction obsession. The next step is overcompensation with diet acceptable treats.

"Your right" I said to Christina "I guess I just feel like I have been eating on the fly too much, and eating a lot of highly processed food. I don't need to go on a paleo diet to eat more paleo foods."

When I got to the grocery store, I shopped like a hunter gatherer. I went around the perimeter, grabbing fresh vegetables and meat. I bought fresh fish and tried to design dressings using mainly foods that could be gathered. Here is what I came up with. My cousin pointed out that corn is not paleo, so if you are eating paleo omit the corn.

Garlic Seared Tuna and Frisee Salad
1 tuna steak
2 cloves garlic
hazelnut infused olive oil
pinch salt (the salt can be omitted if you are a paleo purist)

Get a pan hot and coat the bottom with oil and salt. Sear the tuna on one side until the side turns white half way up the steak. Flip it to the other side. Turn down the heat and add the garlic to the pan, tossing it around until it yellows, but before the garlic browns remove everything from the pan. Set aside.

Mix together:
2 cups frisee
1 corn cob worth of corn (omit if you are eating paleo)
1 avocado
1 small tomato
1 small red pepper
zest from 1 lime
cut up tuna and add over top (squirt tuna with lemon juice if you prefer)

Mango Lime Dressing
In a food processor, blend together
1 ripe mango
juice from 2 small limes
1 Tbsp hazelnut infused olive oil
zest from limes
lots of pepper

Christina's vote: "This salad made me want to strip off all my clothes and run down the street screaming 'I love this woman'"

1 comment:

  1. OMG! This salad is too die for. All so savory, sweet, intense and delicate. It's OK if the hunter gathers didn't eat corn, the great civilizations of Mesoamerica could not have existed without the maize, things change. Thanks for the wonderful recipes and stories.