As I demonstrated in week 1, the best and most effective way to change our health and promote a healthy environment is to go vegetarian. Even it it is only one day a week, it can have an enormous impact.
But doesn’t Paleo advocate lots of meat? And lots of protein?
The simple answer is “no”, it doesn’t advocate eating tons of meat. Nor does it tout eating tons of protein. Adequate amount of protein? Yes? Lots of it? No.
So how feasible is it to stay mostly vegetarian and practice Paleo? Well, it’s not the easiest way to live, but it is definitely doable.
Many non-animal product proteins are considered non-Paleo. Soy is the biggest one where people warn against eating too much of the plant based protein. But as we’ve discussed, it isn’t the holy terror it’s been portrayed in the media as being. Eating soy in tofu, tempeh, or soy milk form is considered safe in moderation, about 3-5 times week. Peanuts are a great source of protein, but are a legume, which isn’t approved under most Paleo plans (again, it’s debatable whether cavemen ate beans or not). Then there are the grain proteins- quinoa, oats, rice, and even corn. None are considered Paleo, even though all of them can be consumed in an unprocessed form.
So, if you are trying to practice Paleo and stay mostly vegetarian, what are your options?
Your first and foremost source would have to be eggs. Eggs are a superfood, in my opinion. Getting eggs locally from farms where I can clearly SEE the chickens running around, sometimes OUT of their fenced in yards, is a huge plus. But honestly, as long as you go for free range, pasture raised chickens, and stay clear of the cheap, factory farm chicken eggs, you are good to go.
Eggs are a great source of many vitamins and nutrients. In fact, if you added a glass of OJ to a breakfast of eggs, you would be complete in nearly all vital and mandatory vitamins in your breakfast of champions. Eggs, while high in cholesterol, are high in the good cholesterol. They actually help lower blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart disease.
But eggs are still a product of animals. There are many people who wish to stay completely away from any animal product. This does make eating Paleo a little more difficult, but not impossible.
A great substitute for eggs is flax seed and hemp seed. I’ve used flax seed in many recipes to substitute for eggs when I want to make a vegan recipe. It works well. Just mix 2-3 tablespoons of flax seed with 3-5 tablespoons of water and let sit for a few minutes before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. I used this all throughout my Vegetarian Week, especially on my vegan days. I also used it several times throughout Keto Week, to replace the use of so many eggs for so many recipes.
Ginger Peach Oatmeal Crisp 6 servings- 242 calories, Carbs: 39.1g, Fat: 8.1g, Protein: 4.5g
- 3 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar or coconut sugar
- 2 cup oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 peaches or pears, diced
- Lightly grease 8×8 baking dish
- In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed with 4 Tbsp water. Stir together and let thicken for 5 minutes.
- Add milk, syrup, vanilla, and sugar with flax seed to a large bowl and whisk together. Add oats, spices, salt, and peaches. Stir together until well blended
- Transfer to a baking dish. Smooth down edges until surface is even
- Set temperature on oven to 350 F. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top
- Turn off oven and allow to passively cook for 5-10 minutes.
With this recipe, I actually started running low on eggs, and didn’t feel like running out to get some more. So, instead, I substituted 2 eggs with 3 Tbsp of flax seed and water. It worked great and tasted fantastic.
Keto Croque Madame
- 6 oz cottage cheese
- 4 eggs
- 1 Tbsp ground psyllium husk powder
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 oz smoked ham, pepperoni, or pancetta
- 4 oz cheddar cheese
- ½ finely chopped red onion
- Whisk eggs in a bowl. Stir in the cottage cheese. Add psyllium powder while stirring to incorporate it smoothly. Let the mixture sit for five minutes to let the batter thicken.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add a generous amount of butter and fry the batter like small pancakes for a couple of minutes on each side, until they are golden.
- Assemble a sandwich with ham and cheese between two pancakes. Add onion on top.
Tree nuts, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pecans, are going to be your go to food item on a vegetarian/vegan paleo diet. Some sources categorize nuts in the healthy fats section over protein, but there is an adequate amount of protein in nuts. Nut flours hold the same amount.
If you are looking for good substitutes to make pancakes without eggs, I suggest very ripe bananas and applesauce. I am actually going to experiment tonight with some of the coconut and almond flour. I’m making a special breakfast for tomorrow, even if it strays from our meal plan a little. I’ve found making pancakes with paleo-approved flours is not as satisfying as regular gluten pancakes. They crumble and fall apart. So, if I can make an actual breakfast crumble, I’ll be in business.
Nuts aren’t your only source of protein in the vegetable plant-based world. The protein content of many vegetables will amaze you. Spinach is your best source, with almost 30% of the calories in spinach coming from protein. It’s sometimes difficult to measure exact amount compared to meat because spinach cooks down so much, but a cup of raw spinach has about 2 grams of protein.
Broccoli also has protein in it, with almost 4 grams per cup (which sounds like a lot more than spinach, but spinach cooks down, like a LOT, so it evens out). Most other green and leafy vegetable has 2-3 grams per cup of protein in them, including Brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichoke, and beets, turnips, and their greens.
And the queen of all vegan entrees, especially on the Paleo diet, is the sweet potato. Honestly, I think I need to change this to “Sweet Potato Week”. Although many recipes from this week could easily be swapped for any winter squash (pumpkin, acorn, butternut, delicata, etc), I discovered I was a LITTLE heavy on the sweet potato recipes this week. In fact, one of my days is scheduled to be sweet potato hash for breakfast, Sweet Sunset salad with potatoes and beets for lunch, and sweet potato dosas for dinner.
My entire week of the Paleo diet has vegetarian lunches, mostly vegetarian breakfasts, and two vegan dinners.
My whole point is doing vegetarian Paleo is very feasible. It takes a little practice to figure out some of the intricacies, but anyone can still do it.
Breakfast: Coconut flour pancakes (fell apart WAY too easy)
Lunch: Pumpkin Soup with coconut cream topping (much better with the coconut cream)
Dinner: Thai Curry- very good. Planned it to be served with baked or poached eggs, but honestly, it didn’t need it. Was great on its own. I also made it in a crockpot, which saved me cooking time, but was a little complicated with the different ingredients being added at different times.
Thai Veggie Curry 2 servings-
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 4 oz fresh spinach, chard, or seasonal greens, rinsed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves
- 1 cup vegetarian broth
- 1 Tbsp tapioca flour
- ¼ cup canned coconut milk
- 4 eggs
- In a large cooking pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Saute onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened and fragrant.
- Add eggplant, carrots, sweet potato, and red pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
- Stir in all spices (cumin through cloves) and vegetable broth.
- Bring curry to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
- Simmer curry for 20 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
- Stir together tapioca flour with coconut milk. Pour into curry during last ten minutes of cooking.
- In a small pot, bring some water to a boil. Pour about a tablespoon of vinegar in the boiling water. Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl. Swirl boiling water fast so it makes a small vortex in the center and gently pour egg into the center. Cook on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Crack the second egg in the small bowl while the first one is poaching. Take finished egg out carefully with a slotted spoon. Set to the side while cooking remaining eggs.
- Once curry is thick enough and ready, serve in a bowl. Top each bowl with two poached eggs.
Snacks: Trail Mix and hard boiled egg
CrossFit Beginners- burpees, sit ups, push-ups, and lunges
ZooFit: Tabata exercises prescribed by Chris’ physical therapist- mostly core type exercises, although I felt that last one in my quads. Yikes.
Mood: I’m feeling a little more satisfied in the eating realm. I also feel better having done a hard workout in the morning and a light one with Chris in the afternoon. Getting some items on my to do list checked off also helps. I feel accomplished.
I have decided that I will include a Mediterranean Week in my challenge. I’ve already started compiling recipes for the week. It’s not too hard to fit in. Mediterranean feels like a cross between Keto and Paleo where you are also allowed to include whole grains. This does mean I’ll have to rewrite some of my conservation fitness habits, though.
But what else am I going to do with NaNoWriMo?
Challenges: So, while I often have to balance Chris’ nutritional needs with my nutritional goals, I also have to balance Chris’ exercise needs with my exercise goals. I’m glad I went to CrossFit early today to get a great workout in, because if I relied on just ZooFit workout for today, it wouldn’t have been enough. But it was a good workout for Chris today.
I worry, since the surgery, that maybe I’m not doing enough to help Chris get stronger. But then on the opposite side, I worry I push too much and may hurt him. I’m really glad we went to see a physical therapist, even if the poor guy wasn’t entirely sure what to do with my husband. He gave us some new exercises to do. Some seemed super simple, but others actually work my muscles in ways I haven’t experienced in a LONG time.
Earlier this year, Chris humored me by letting me lead our warm-ups everyday with my glute exercises prescribed by my therapist. Now it’s his turn. Today we tested the exercises out to see if they strain or cause discomfort in his abdomen. It’s just to see where we are on the pain spectrum. From here, I can test other exercises and if it is uncomfortable, we can measure it against these prescribed movements. Same type of pain? Then maybe it’s not too bad, but we can double check. Hurts more or in a different way? Let’s stop that exercise and do something else.