After a chaotic December which included a home renovation, the holidays, hosting family and logging a few 90-hour work weeks to get Juice Nation (an organic juice and superfood smoothie bar) open last month, life is finally getting back to normal.  I have challenged myself to embark on a Paleo diet—with one caveat—a VEGAN paleo diet.

In short, the Paleo diet is composed of foods that existed and were eaten during the paleolithic era.  Before you google that, I’ll give it to you in a nutshell: Lean meats, most fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables (sans corn or potatoes). Basically anything that could be hunted and gathered. Out are dairy, grains and processed foods. And my beloved Daiya cheese, tofu and soy milk lattes.

After doing some internet research and talking to a few people who I know follow (more or less) a Paleo diet, I realized that there are conflicting rules about what exactly IS and IS NOT considered to be Paleo.  After sifting through all this, I came up with my own set of guidelines which seem to conform to a Paleo diet and support my triathlon habit (read: Need. Carbs. For. Endurance. Sport. Training).  When I inquire as to what individual Paleo peeps eat, I hear something like this “…I’m Paleo but I eat (insert favorite food or drink vice here)…”  “I’m Paleo but I eat Greek Yogurt”.  “I’m Paleo but I drink a craft beer every third day”.  “I’m Paleo but I eat Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby on the weekends”.  I even found one site which proclaimed that espresso is Paleo.  And another which said that Diet Soda was okay……say whaaaaaaaa……..?

I drink a smoothie on most mornings and/or post workouts. While I’m pretty sure that the cavemen didn’t have protein powder to put into their smoothies or Vitamix blenders with which to make them; I look at this experiment as “Contemporary Paleo”.  I’m not going to be foraging in San Dieguito park for edibles or hunting squirrel in Solana Beach.  Me trying to adhere to a true Paleo diet would be the same as me taking up barefoot running.  Last I checked, the cavemen weren’t running barefoot (or in their Vibrams) on concrete sidewalks–you gotta allow for evolution.

Included in my Paleo Vegan Diet

  • Vegetables with the exception of Corn and White Potatoes (I like corn, I like potatoes, but I’m trying to play by the Paleo rules)
  • Sweet Potatoes (highly controversial—I went with these as to have a carbohydrate source for training)
  • Nuts (cashews are eschewed by some Paleo dieters-but I’m including them-they provide a terrific creaminess to vegan soups and spreads)
  • Sprouted Legumes (the short explanation is that Paleo diet does not advocate eating legumes because “one can’t eat these in a raw state”; however, if you sprout legumes, you can eat them raw.  Hey, I’m not about to eat chicken raw, but chicken is WAAAAYYYY Paleo)
  • Fresh Fruit (‘nuf said)
  • Medjool Dates (see explanation next to Sweet Potatoes)
  • Seaweed  Sea Veggie; high in vitamins and minerals.  And I can still have Paleo sushi–think veggies wrapped with Nori with Coconut Amino Acids as a dipping sauce–YUM!
  • Nut and Seed Butters (exception of Peanut Butter as Peanuts are technically legumes)
  • Organic Wine
  • Green Tea
  • Stevia
  • Vegan Protein Powder
  • Raw Agave (in moderation)
  • Coconut, Cold Pressed Olive and Sesame Oils

Excluded in my Paleo Vegan Diet

  • Meat (duh)
  • Dairy Excluded from most Paleo diets although some say you can enjoy raw (unpasteurized) dairy
  • Grains and Pseudo Grains Both Gluten and Gluten free.  No quinoa or amaryth…..waaaaaaaaa!
  • Non-Sprouted Beans 
  • Peanuts and Peanut Butter
  • Beer and Hard Alcohol (Tequila is considered Paleo by some as it is distilled from the Agave Plant but still I think that “hard’ means “hard on your body”)
  • Most Sweeteners
  • Canola Oil That itself is worth a whole other post
  • Anything Processed (No Amy’s Gluten Free Vegan Mac and Cheese; no Tofurky Pepperoni Pizza; No Coconut Bliss Frozen Dessert—wait, lemme check on that last one…:))
  • Coffee
  • Soy Milk and Soy Products

Day One

Was pretty easy. I started the day with green tea with sprouted almond milk

I wanted something cooked and hearty for dinner. I was too lazy to go to the store, so I threw together what I had in the pantry, frig and freezer.  I normally wouldn’t put celery in a Thai-style dish, but I had it on hand.  I ate two huge bowls of it and then went on a 4 mile run.  It was actually my transition run scheduled off the bike earlier in the day but the football was too good to pass up.  Transition runs are overrated anyway (flog away, Coach!).

Tomato-y Vegan Paleo Stew

VEGAN PALEO STEW

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion, Finely Diced
  • 3 Stalks Celery, Finely Diced
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • Water for “steam-frying”
  • 2 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped or 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Thai Red Chili Paste
  • 1 Cup Dried Arame (seaweed)
  • 1 10 ounce frozen package diced Butternut Squash
  • 1 28 ounce can Fire-Roasted diced Tomatoes
  • Water to thin
  • 1 bunch Kale, stems removed and torn into 1 inch pieces
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Green Onions, sliced thinly
  • ½ medium bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • Toasted Sesame Oil to drizzle

Preparation

  • In 4 quart pot, heat oil.  Saute Onion and Celery for 3 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup water to keep from burning and to help soften. Cook another 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup more water to continuing to “steam-fry” and soften the Onions and Celery.
  • Add Garlic, Ginger and Thai Chili Paste. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes
  • Add Arame, Butternut Squash, Tomatoes and Kale.  Add ¼-1/2 Cup water and cook until Kale softens
  • Season with Salt and Pepper
  • Ladel into 4-6 Bowls and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with chopped Cilantro and Green Onions