Conservation Fitness Program, Day 21: End of Paleo Week

I feel like all week I’ve highly defended Paleo from nay-sayers claiming Paleo’s too hard to follow. I have shown how there are easy and healthy substitutes for our favorite non-Paleo foods. I’ve shown how versatile the diet can actually be.

But I am far from a devout Paleo eater. I think Paleo is a little easier to manage than Keto, and definitely easier than Whole30, but it is not without its faults.

As I’ve mentioned before, because civilization has made our world so much smaller, and made finding food so convenient, it’s nearly impossible to practice a true 100% Paleolithic diet. Unless you hunt all your own meat (and process it), grow all your own veggies, and forage for all your spices and nuts, we are not practicing true 100% Paleo.

But the beauty of our progress as humans is we DON’T have to eat like cavemen. We just need to eat like a human being, not a garbage can.

I truly believe as long as we practice eating whole, unprocessed, non-manufactured food, we can be open to eating outside the Paleo parameters. Because let’s be honest. No one really believes a bacon-topped burger pattie with fried mushrooms and onions is healthier than a black bean burger on a whole wheat bun.

I like this guy’s whole philosophy on eating paleo. I found Chris Kesser while rummaging around online. His thoughts are spot on. I think of Paleo as more of a template. Not a strict rule book you have to follow or the Caveman Police will hunt you down.

But I like to practice Paleo here and there to remind myself how to eat connected to the earth. Stay away from processed foods, unless you make them yourself (see my recipes for Protein Bars and Caveman Candy). Stay clear of most pre-packaged foods. Buy ingredients in the bulk food section. Try to eliminate plastic waste around your food items. 

And I am told regularly how someone feels guilty for forgetting about looking for palm oil. Hey, I’m not perfect either. Earlier this week, I got so excited for finding a jar of almond butter on clearance (because I used A LOT of almond butter this week), I forgot to check the ingredients. Shame on me, because wouldn’t you know it, it had palm oil in it. So I forget too. It happens.

Instead, I use the paleo-lifestyle and palm oil to help empower me to make better choices in the face of temptation. It’s kinda like walking through the aisles in the supermarket and thinking, “what can I eat which will have the most positive impact on the environment?”. If you are truly tempted by an item, make a deal with yourself. If the item doesn’t have palm oil in it, go ahead and splurge, and indulge yourself. But if it does, then put it back. And feel good about your decision.

I was talking to a few friends about this program today and earlier this week. The overall enthusiasm for something like this is helpful and hopeful. I’m planning on redoing this challenge about a week after I finish this one, to refine recipes and meal plans. And get more photos of food. After my revisions, I am taking the program to friends at CrossFit and in the community for beta testing. After that, it’s one more set of revisions and then to the publishers.

The excitement for the program lies  in the variety of eating plans. People don’t want to be pigeon-holed into one meal plan for an entire month. So, if you are hating everything about Paleo, it’s only for a week. You get to change it up the next week. My program does the research for you. It lets you decide if you want to try one of these lifestyles for a longer trial, or to choose a eating plan that works well for you. Again, it’s about sustainability.

I am hoping the draw of the different meal plans will grab attention and participation. But what will really hit it home is the connection to conservation.

We shall see. I’m gearing up for my last week of this trial. It’s Locavore week, and I’ll be eating within 350 miles of my home turf this week. Eating seasonally available foods. Locally produced foods. Food too good not to eat.


Breakfast: Tea and apple with nut butter
Lunch: Sweet Sunset Salad. Okay, definitely need to share this one. Chris has been telling me for the past year or so that he doesn’t like beets. Well, not everyone hates beets, so I included this treasure in my Paleo vegetarian day. I love it. Chris said he would give it a try because he liked the beets I roasted last night for dinner. But they were mixed with a ton of other veggies and had lots of spices to flavor them. All this salad has is a touch of garlic, some olive oil, and agave nectar. But Chris devoured it, and he really liked it. So, I HAVE to share it with all of you.

Sweet Sunset Salad  2 servings-   418 calories, Carbs: 43 g, Fat 4 g, Protein: 4.1 g


  • 4 medium red beet, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • ½ tsp each garlic powder and salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • Optional- 2 cup brussels sprouts, quartered


  1. Place veggies with olive oil,  garlic, salt, pepper, and nectar  in a container.  Shake up container to coat.
  2. Transfer vegetables to a baking sheet. Add Brussels sprouts if desired. Place in oven and set temperature for 400 F. Bake 35 minutes, and turn off oven for 10 minutes of passive baking, until potatoes and beets should be soft.

I call this Sweet Sunset because the beets and sweet potato along with the red onion make a beautiful palate of color which reminds me of the sunset. Early in the summer when beets are just making their appearance, there are often bright brilliant colors of reds, yellows, and pinks. It really makes a beautiful and colorful plate.

Dinner: Sweet Potato Dosas- honestly, I started thinking I should rename this “Sweet Potato Week”. I’m tempted to try this recipe with squash, preferably delicata or acorn squash. The versatility of sweet potatoes and winter squash never cease to amaze me.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Collard “Dosas”   2 servings, 340 calories, Carbs: 37g, Fat: 10g, Protein: 5g


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Dash of red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 small lime
  • 3 scallions or green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 large, intact, and unblemished collard leaves


  1. Arrange potatoes in a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes, until tender.
  2. While potatoes are steaming, heat oil in large skillet and saute onion for 3-4 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, chili flakes, ginger, curry, mustard, and cumin. Saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add potatoes to onion and spice mixture, stir, and mash with a fork. Stir in lime, scallions/green onions, and cilantro, and keep warm.
  4. Remove and discard stems from collards. Drop leaves into a large pot of boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, until pliable but still bright green. Remove cooked collards from boiling water with tongs and drop into ice water for 30 seconds to stop cooking and set color. Remove from ice bath and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Assemble rolls- place one leaf on a flat surface, with the inside surface of the leaf showings. Cut off lower inch of leaf. Mound about ½ C sweet potato mixture onto lower third of the leaf. Fold bottom edge of leaf over mixture and fold sides of leaves in to cover mixture. Starting at the bottom edge, roll leaf tightly to encase filling completely. Repeat with remaining leaves. Reserve any leftover filling.
  6. Arrange, seam side down, on a serving plate. Serve with sugar-free chutney sauce.

What’s great about Dosas is they are vegan and I got all my ingredients locally. Okay, not the spices, but everything else was locally produced. And the chutney I made is my rhubarb chutney which I canned and saved from this summer. It was really good.

Okay, fine, I’ll share my rhubarb chutney recipe too.


  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup flavored balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped (about 3 medium stalks)
  • ⅓ cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup green onions
  • Dash of salt and crushed red pepper


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients (agave nectar to coriander) in small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add rhubarb and remainder of ingredients, reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender.
  2. Transfer chutney to a bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Chutney is great on just about anything. My favorite is with grilled pork. But I had it with this vegan sweet potato dish, and it was great. And I’ve also had it with grilled polenta. It was just as fabulous. For canning, I made about a triple batch and put them in small jelly or jam jars. Then I just canned like regular. No pressure cooker needed for this treat.


Sloth Army this morning at Whidbey Institute. My friend sent me the GPS mapping of our run. I was trying to get us to spell out ZooFit, but this was a fun trail. After trailing it for a while, I took us to the Whidbey Institute’s campus and the Labyrinth. We trailed through the maze to get to the center and laughed about how I never make running boring.

Mood: I feel pretty good and hopeful about my program. I just wish I had more motivation or more time to work on it. I need to get my butt to the co-works to focus on what I need to do everyday. But then I wouldn’t have a kitty in my lap, nor would I have a crockpot of apple butter, and a jar of pureed pumpkin in the fridge.

Challenges: There really isn’t enough time in the day. For a lazy Sunday afternoon, I really stayed pretty busy. But this week is my last for my trial. And then it’s a week of huge edits and revisions, photos, and then play it again. No worries. This is the only time I’ll blog the entire trial day by day.




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