My mum is coming for a visit tomorrow. I haven't told her yet about paleo - I might just present her with a plate of food without carbs and see if she notices.
Anyway, in my family, if you want to show hospitality, you bake a cake, and that's a habit I'm not ready to break. In general I'm not keen on paleo food that pretends to be 'normal' food, but I'll make an exception for my mum visiting.
Sometimes you need a quick meal, and it's tempting to reach for the ready meals and convenience foods. But the beauty of paleo is that you can create a wonderfully healthy, tasty meal with no trouble - as long as you've got the right stuff in the fridge. That's the trick.
Take this meal. Wednesdays are a rat race because both kids have to be picked up from different places and my husband and I are both at work. So we need something hot on the table pretty much as soon as we get home. The above meal is the perfect solution.
My husband gets in from work and puts the chicken in the oven - free range thighs and drumsticks, which Tesco does for less than £3 for enough for four. He just puts salt, pepper and oil on and bangs them in. Then he comes to pick me up, then the kids - a 40 min round trip. When we get home the chicken is done, so we toss a salad in pesto dressing and tuck in. Seeing the lobster gnawing on a chicken leg warms the cockles of my heart.
If you wanted to do it in 5 mins instead of 40, just buy ready-cooked chicken from M&S and grill for 5 mins. With the oven method, be warned - don't use breast meat, which will be terribly dry after 40 mins. The cheaper, fattier cuts, on the other hand, will be perfect.
Why don't the Inuit get scurvy? After all, they traditionally eat a 100% meat-fish diet. Surely we need vitamin C, which is present only in very small quantities in meat, to avoid illness?
This is just one of the dietary paradoxes addressed in an amazing book I'm reading by Gary Taubes, who writes for the highly respected journal Science. In the UK it's called The Diet Delusion, but I believe in the US it's called Good Calories, Bad Calories. I can't recommend it highly enough - it's a truly authoritative work which reviews the science behind current nutritional thinking in a way that I find very satisfying (bearing in mind that I'm a physicist and good science is very important to me!).
I'll be talking about this more over the coming weeks, but let me share with you the answer to the paradox of the Inuit. Vit C, Taubes explains, has a similar composition to glucose and is taken up by the same receptors in the body. When blood sugar is raised by eating carbohydrate, more glucose is present in the bloodstream and this is preferentially taken up by receptors. This in turn means that we need a lot more vitamin C because it is 'fighting' with the glucose to be used.
So if you eat a no-carb diet - for example, pure meat - you need much less vit C and the small amounts in meat are sufficient. Simples! In fact guys, it looks as though one can be completely healthy on a meat-only diet. Yum!
My 6-year-old daughter has just told me that she "hates paleo". She misses toast with her scrambled eggs and I think she's worried about what we'll eat at her Hallowe'en party. I think she's also really missing pasta.
But she does like things as well: like the fact that she now squeezes her own orange juice straight from the orange, the fact that we have a much wider selection of fruit (bananas are her favourite), and scrambled eggs for breakfast.
I'm not being too dogmatic with the kids. My husband and I are doing fairly strict paleo apart from still eating cheese and drinking beer, but I'm trying to ease the kids in gently. They get a choice in the morning - either whatever egg/fish I'm having that day, or their pre-paloe standard porridge with honey. They choose porridge about 50% of the time. Steve has a school lunch and the lobster has meat and vegetable stew for lunch (more on this another time) and they have tea with us, generally meat/fish, veg and some sort of sauce. This is all topped up with liberal applications of fruit.
To give you an idea of the kids' diets, here's what they had today; it's a weekend so slightly non-standard.
Scrambled eggs with parma ham
Grapes and raisins
Freshly squeezed OJ including the pith
Tuna mayonnaise with sweetcorn and carrot sticks
A bit of Gouda
Thai red chicken curry with babycorn, mangetout and cauliflower
I actually think, despite what Steve said, that they're enjoying it (with one caveat - they both keep on asking for pasta). I think she's worrying about the party. I'm worrying about it too!
I've already told you that my son, the lobster, has coeliac disease. He's nearly 3 and it was diagnosed about a year ago. I haven't eaten wheat for 10 years after developing a severe intolerance and my husband gave up gluten a couple of years ago for similar reasons. My father, who is nearly 70, gave up wheat a couple of years ago and has seen a big improvement in health.
So that just left my daughter, commonly known as Steve. She's 6 and had never had any problems with wheat or gluten. But.... but.... she's started complaining of a bad tum, and the doc has told us to try taking her off gluten to see if it improves. Poor little thing, she's very upset about it.
At the moment she's eating paleo at home but having a free rein at school, where she typically chooses things like fish fingers or pasta for lunch. If she does prove to be gluten-intolerant, it'll have to be packed lunches. I knew this was coming with the lobster, but thought it was years away. I'm going to have to do some pretty hard thinking about gluten-free, paleo sandwich substitutes. Any ideas welcome!