Product review: Healthy Everyday meals by Pete Evans

Now that some Woolies shops are stocking Healthy Everyday meals, I took the opportunity to buy a couple and sample them without committing to a big online order. These meals have been designed by Pete Evans and made by Paleo Cafe, which means they are free of gluten, added sugars, etc.

Healthy Everyday meals

One thing that had caught my eye from the website is that the meals stay good for way longer than other ready-made meals we sometimes purchase. This is because the meals are packed in vacuum sealed bags, which make them look less sexy (think hospital food) but increase their shelf life. This also meals that the range includes only foods that can keep well in this type of packaging, so things like salads are off the menu.

Healthy Everyday meals

We tried the BBQ pulled pork with pickled cabbage & sweet potato mash and the cottage pie with sweet potato mash & rich vegetable gravy. Despite the aforementioned “meh” look, both meals looked way better when plated and heated, and tasted even better. We found the serving sizes were decent (each one weighs ~400g, definitely smaller than our usual meals) and provided a good amount of protein and fibre.

BBQ pulled pork

I paid $13.50 for each meal at Woolies, more expensive than the price per meal if you buy directly from their website, but not necessarily if you consider shipping costs. I think the extra dollars over say a takeaway meal are worth paying considering the quality of ingredients and flavour.

Cottage pie

Healthy Everyday
Website

Family Food by Pete Evans

Cookbook cook-up: Family Food by Pete Evans (week 5)

This was the final (for now) week of cooking from Pete Evans’ Family Food. This was the second week on choosing meals that would fit with my AltShift experiment. You can see the other mouth-watering dishes I tested from this book by clicking on the following links: week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4. These were the chosen meals on week 5:

Licorice sausages with homemade barbecue sauce: I was a bit intimidated by this recipe for 2 reasons: first finding licorice root powder, and second shaping sausages and cooking them without breaking them apart. I did not succeed on the first one, but I found licorice root and ground it in a coffee grinder. The second obstacle was easy to overcome. The sausages turned out great, as did the barbecue sauce even though I did not add any of the optional honey. As with other recipes, this makes quite a bit of leftover sauce that you can keep for later.

Licorice sausages with homemade barbecue sauce

King prawns with preserved lemon guacamole: This is a Christmas recipe that I didn’t get to try on Christmas Eve. I didn’t find king prawns either; those are tiger prawns in the photo. I also used some garlic-infused olive oil in place of some of the lemon-infused one listed in the recipe. Regardless, this dish was good! We ate it as a main so it yielded 2 servings instead of 4. Yes, I went a bit overboard with the herbs.

King prawns with preserved lemon guacamole

Butter chicken: A butter chicken recipe with no butter. Sounds suspicious, doesn’t it? Well, let me tell you: it was delicious. It had quite a bit of coconut oil and coconut cream, which made the curry extra velvety. I followed the recipe verbatim and served it with steamed broccoli (for me) and basmati rice (for Alvaro).

Butter chicken

My meatloaf (not mine, Pete’s): This was one of the dishes I liked the most of this batch, but unfortunately it crumbled down. I think I chopped the vegetables too big. I also added a bit of liver (ran through the food processor) to make the meat weight, which might have contributed to things not sticking together properly. I used leftover barbecue sauce instead of ketchup for the glaze.

Meatloaf

Steamed snapper with ginger, tamari and sesame: For some reason I normally don’t order steamed fish when eating out. I guess it sounds bland and boring. Then I remember the Chinese-style fish dishes my uncle used to cook, and decide I should eat this kind of food more often. This recipe was very quick and easy to make, and had few ingredients. It turned out to be a simple, healthy and nourishing dish that I would certainly cook again.

Steamed snapper with ginger, tamari and sesame

Family Food by Pete Evans

Cookbook cook-up: Family Food by Pete Evans (week 4)

Another successful week of cooking from Pete Evans’ Family Food. While my selection of recipes for
week 1 and week 2 was based purely on what appealed to me, and week 3 was all about Christmas, this time I had a slightly different reason that I won’t go into just yet. These were my picks for week 4:

Moroccan baked eggs with chermoula: This is a North African version of shashuka, and was my favourite recipe on week 4. The flavours worked perfectly and it was a hearty breakfast to get us ready for work. The extra chermoula was enjoyed later with lamb chops.

Moroccan baked eggs with chermoula

Bacon and eggs with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes: Another simple recipe, another crowd-pleaser. Bacon, eggs, cherry tomatoes and avocado. What else can I say?

Bacon and eggs with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes

Roast chicken with garlic and thyme: Winner winner chicken dinner. This is a fairly standard roast chicken recipe, except that it uses a lot of garlic, which a good thing in my book. We ate it with steamed broccoli and a thick gravy made by blending the pan veggies and juices.

Roast chicken with garlic and thyme

Chicken Turkey san choy bau: I made it with turkey breast mince because I wanted it to be lower in fat. I liked the end result, although I must admit my friend Angela makes a tastier san choy bau (she uses beef and pork). Portions are not huge but just about the right size.

(Chicken) Turkey san choy bau

Fish stir-fry with ginger and chilli: Confession time… this book has quite a few fish and seafood recipes but this is the first one I try because it’s not convenient for me to buy fresh seafood. This dish was fairly easy to put together (I used monkfish fillets), and turned out well. The only issue is that the sauce was too salty, I think because I didn’t use any of the optional honey. Next time I will use reduced-salt tamari.

Fish stir-fry with ginger and chilli

Family Food by Pete Evans

Cookbook cook-up: Family Food by Pete Evans (week 3)

Read about the previous posts about Family Food here (week 1) and here (week 2). On week 3, I cooked:

Lamb cutlets with mint sauce and sautéed beans: Very Australian and very yum. This dish requires a bit of preparation (the cutlets need to be marinated) but is totally worth it. I recommend to make a bigger batch for leftovers.

Lamb cutlets with mint sauce and sautéed beans

Jamaican jerk chicken: The only tweak I made to this recipe was to use a few pinches of chilli flakes instead of fresh chillies. This dish, too, requires marinating time, which again is totally worth it. I suspect you can freeze marinated drumsticks and cook them later, as Michelle Tam does with her (sister’s) green chicken recipe. We enjoyed the super tasty drumsticks with a simple salad.

Jamaican jerk chicken

Spinach and artichoke dip and smoked trout dip: I made these for Christmas eve dinner. I liked the smoked trout one better, but both were good. Both feature the cashew “cheese” recipe that is also featured in the book. In the photo, the ramekin in the middle contains duck liver pâté with orange marmalade jelly (recipe not in the book!).

Dips

Coleslaw with chervil dressing: This salad made it to the Christmas eve dinner table, too, although with a few changes because some ingredients (root vegetables) were not in season. Coleslaw is one of my favourite salads, and this one didn’t disappoint.

Coleslaw with chervil dressing

Roast turkey with herb marinade: Another recipe tried on Christmas eve. It was my first time roasting a stuffed turkey and I think I nailed it (thanks to the recipe, of course). My turkey was heavier, so I adjusted the cooking time according to the directions in the book. I would dare to say that the stuffing was even better than the flavoursome turkey.

Roast turkey with herb marinade

Raw Christmas puddings: The final recipe tried on Christmas eve (and on week 3), these raw treats were awesome! The only ingredient I couldn’t find was dried sour cherries, so I used dried inca berries instead. The trickiest part of the recipe (apart from lining the moulds with cling wrap, which requires patience) was the icing. Mine didn’t look as pretty as the one in the book, perhaps also due to my lack of patience. As you can see, I decorated mine with strawberries instead of raspberries.

Raw Christmas puddings

Family Food by Pete Evans

Cookbook cook-up: Family Food by Pete Evans (week 2)

Read about week 1 of cooking from Family Food here. On week 2, I cooked:

Meatzza: Yes, a pizza where meat is the main ingredient in the base, not the toppings. There are heaps of meatzza recipes floating around in the interwebs; this one features macadamia cheese (which has the consistency of ricotta), plus olive, cherry tomatoes and basil as toppings. I loved it. We shared some with our housemates, who enjoyed it as well. We ate ours with a simple mixed leaf salad.

Meatzza

Kale Caesar salad: Found in the lunch section of the book, although the chef encourages the reader to try it for breakfast, which we did. It was awesome. Perhaps my favourite recipe in the book so far. The combination of the paleo trifecta (kale, bacon, eggs) with the anchovy-flavoured creamy dressing is an absolute winner. I’d have this for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner any time.

Kale Caesar salad

Chicken salad with avocado ranch dressing: For this recipe I didn’t do my research properly and found out too late that the multiple leaves required for the salad were not in season. I substituted with what I could find (a couple of different mescluns, baby cos and watercress) and really liked the end result. The chicken breast turned out juicy and tasty. This salad is best eaten on the same day, as the avo dressing goes funny when stored for later.

Chicken salad with avocado ranch dressing

Zucchini noodles with parsley and basil pesto: I <3 pesto. Used to hate it as a child but now it's my favourite (not) pasta sauce. Zucchini noodles are a hassle for me to make, but I make them once in a while just to have a nutritious low-carb vehicle for sauce. This pesto turned out beautifully and went well with the olives and the sardines that I added to the dish. The zucchinis did release a bit of water as you can see in the photo. No major drama, though.

Zucchini noodles with parsley and basil pesto

Ham, egg and mayo lettuce wraps: This is a tasty light meal that must be made by people with more patience than me. The wraps were messy to assemble and messier to eat (my fault), but 10/10 flavour-wise.

Ham, egg and mayo lettuce wraps

Family Food by Pete Evans

Cookbook cook-up: Family Food by Pete Evans (week 1)

This is a new section of the blog inspired by “Cook the Book”, a regular feature in one of my favourite cooking websites: Serious Eats. In this feature, they review a particular recipe found in a cookbook and share the recipe. My spin is to cook several recipes from a cookbook for a week and then share photos and comments of how the meals turned up. I won’t share any recipes, in part to avoid the hassle of asking for permission, in part to encourage readers to go buy the cookbooks.

The first featured cookbook is Family Food by Pete Evans, given to me as a birthday present (thanks again, Gladys!). On week 1 I cooked:

Roast pork with apple sauce: I had a larger roast so I had to cook it for about 20-25 minutes longer. Prep was simple and it came out delicious. The apple sauce was a revelation, I normally cook it for a longer time but this recipe was super quick and easy to make. I served the pork with sautéed greens with lemon and garlic (see below).

Roast pork with apple sauce

Sautéed greens with lemon and garlic: I wanted to make this recipe as soon as I saw the photo. Broccolini and asparagus are two of my favourite green veggies, and they didn’t disappoint: this side dish is a winner.

Sautéed greens with lemon and garlic

Prosciutto Pancetta-wrapped frittata muffins: The original recipe calls for prosciutto but I couldn’t find any at the markets, so I used pancetta instead. These muffins are fairly easy to make and come out perfectly. We ate these for breakfast (2-3 per meal per person, depending on hunger).

Prosciutto-wrapped frittata muffins

Beef and broccoli stir-fry: For this recipe I used konjac noodles instead of kelp noodles because I had those in hand. I couldn’t find any bean sprouts in three shops and quite frankly I’m not a big fan, so I didn’t mind their absence. Other than that, I followed the recipe verbatim, and really liked the result. I found it makes a bit more sauce than what is actually needed, so if you decide to try this recipe consider cutting down the sauce ingredients by 1/4 or 1/3.

Beef and broccoli stir fry

Nic’s chopped salad: I love big-ass salads, especially in spring/summer. I liked the colours and crunch of this one, and the addition of seeds. The vinaigrette calls for sherry vinegar, but I used what I had in hand (chardonnay), which I think didn’t make a huge difference overall. We ate this salad with canned tuna or sardines. The recipe made enough for 4 servings. Perhaps it can stretch to 6 servings (according to the book, it serves 4 to 6) if served as a side for a more substantial meal.

Nic's chopped salad

Stay tuned for more posts!

The Art and Science of Low Carb Living

Here are my notes of the seminar, which took place on September 1st 2014 at Sydney Uni. Due to complaints about the university organising such an *outrageous* event, the MC, Dr Kieron Rooney had to explicitly state the lack of affiliation of the university with the event and reminded the audience of the true nature of science with this quote: “There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry… There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors… And we know that as long as men [sic] are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress” J. Robert Oppenheimer

Dr Rooney (PhD, senior lecturer and member of the Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Research Team, The University of Sydney) left us with the big picture view of carbohydrate consumption. The spectrum of carbohydrate intake according to Feinman et al (2014, full article available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900714003323) is:

  • 0 to 20-50 g/day: very low carbohydrate/ketogenic, 5-10% of daily intake
  • 20-50 to 130 g/day: low carbohydrate, <26% of daily intake
  • 130 to 250 g/day: moderate carbohydrate, 26-45% of daily intake
  • 250 to 300 g/day: high carbohydrate, >45% of daily intake

The mean intake in Australians over 2 years old is 45%. Acccording to the Australian Dietary Guidelines of 2013 (National Health and Medical Research Council 2013, available here: http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/the_guidelines/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf) the recommended intake to reduce risk of chronic disease is 45-65%.

Dr Steve Phinney’s ketogenic protocol advocates < 50 g/day.

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Pete Evans

  • Food can be medicine or poison.
  • “The truth is that what we eat is a dialogue about what we believe we are to ourselves and to the world. More than often this dialogue reflects emotional issues – fears and insecurities we do not know how to deal with or overcome. We fall into eating habits developed in childhood that will over time effect our physiological health. There is, however a lot more to this than you might initially think.”
  • Importance of animals getting a natural diet, of eating more organ meats (not just muscle meats), of building relationships with the people who produce our food.
  • The first step toward change is spreading the word.

Sarah Wilson

  • We have to accept individualities.
  • The message needs to be broader: sustainable and sensible.
  • Importance of not eating processed foods, maximising nutrition (carbs = nutrient negligible), reducing toxic load (phytic acid, gluten), cooking (particularly slow cooking as a cost-effective and nutrient-preserving method), saving time and money, not “dieting” (counting calories, etc.)

Dr Steve Phinney

  • Dr Frederick Schwatka studied aboriginals who had been living in the Canadian Arctic for ~4000 years. Their diet consisted mainly of animal products because there was no vegetation. They were nomads and didn’t have much capacity to carry food.

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  • The Masai of East Africa eat meat, milk and blood of sheep, cows, goats. The blood satisfied their salt requirements (hot environment, away from the ocean). When the Masai moved to the city and adopted an agricultural diet, the children became short (Orr and Gilks 1931).
  • Native American warriors who ate buffalo were taller than those who didn’t (Richmond 1975).
  • Professor Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived and travelled with the Inuit from 1905 to 1917. He ate what the Inuit ate: meat, fish, poultry, broth, organ meats. The macronutrient breakdown was: 115 g/day of protein (15-20% of energy intake), >200 g/day of fat (>80% of energy intake) and <10 g/day of carbohydrate (<2% of energy intake). Carbohydrate came from the glycogen in animal muscle. He did not get sick. (McClellan 1930)
  • The brain requires~600 KCal/day. The brain can’t burn fat, but ketones (aka “toxic byproducts of fatty acid oxidation”). Ketones can become the predominant fuel for the brain.
  • In a research study with 6 subjects locked up for 7 weeks the time to exercise (measure of fitness) went down, then up (i.e. the study didn’t prove the hypothesis, Phinney et al 1980, article available here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC371554/?tool=pubmed)
  • In a revised study, Phinney et al (1983, abstract available here: http://www.metabolismjournal.com/article/0026-0495(83)90105-1/abstract), used athletes as subjects. They were fed 15% protein, 80+% fat, and <2% carbohydrate (from glycogen) for 4 weeks. There was no loss of aerobic power and no difference in endurance, but a change in RQ (respiratory quotient) from 0.83 to 0.72, meaning that they were burning ketones instead of carbohydrate. They had reduced their dependence on muscle glycogen.
  • The body energy stores of a 70g male athlete are distributed as follows:
    • Liver glycogen: ~100g (2480 KCal)
    • Adipose tissue triglyceride:12 kg (110,700 KCal)
    • Muscle glycogen: ~500g
    • Muscle triglyceride: ~300g
    • Blood + extracellular glucose ~20g
  • So fat stores are greater than carbohydrate stores. And an athlete hitting the wall is like a gas truck running out of fuel.
  • Some endurance athletes like Tim Olson have learned to use ketones to their advantage.
  • In a study with 40 subjects with metabolic syndrome, large waist circumference, and insulin resistance, low HDL and high triglycerides (TG), carbohydrate restriction:
    • lowered LDL by 3% with change in particle size (less small dense, the dangerous kind)
    • ­­­­­­­­increased HDL, decreased TG
    • decreased % of saturated fat in TG (because the body loves to burn sat fat for fuel, so it doesn’t accumulate. Forsythe et al 2008, abstract available here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11745-007-3132-7)
  • Insulin resistance exists in a continuum that goes from carbohydrate intolerant (people with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, expanding waistline) to carbohydrate tolerant (insulin sensitive people, athletes, normal BMI people). There is no perfect diet for everyone, it depends on where you fall in the continuum.
  • Inflammation underlies heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, etc., and is therefore a major target for inflammation.
  • The ketone β-hydroxybutyrate inhibits histone deacetylases, enzymes that remove acetyl residues from the proteins that pack DNA (histones). This inhibition leads to expression of genes that confer protection against oxidative stress. (Shimazu et al 2012, full article available here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmid/23223453/)

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Q&A session

Safety of KD during pregnancy?

We don’t know because we can’t study that due to ethical issue.

Is hypoglycaemia safe?

Since you’re not using much glucose your blood glucose is much more stable

Low carb paleo but not keto adapted. Is there any harm in going in and out of ketosis? What about cyclic keto-refeeds?

Everyone has to find their place in the continuum. If you feel/function well, continue doing what you’re doing.

If you’re keto-adapted, your muscles need more glycogen. If you eat carbohydrate, almost all will go to muscle.

How did cyclists feel in Dr Phinney’s studies?

The first 2 weeks they felt like crap.

Generally athletes need 3-4 months before getting completely get keto-adapted.

Ketosis + resistance training?

Dr Jeff Volek (Dr Phinney’s coauthor) is a competitive powerlifter. Enough said.

Is ketosis required for weight loss? Is saturated fat required for ketosis? Can you cheat with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)?

It’s not requirede but the more insulin the individual requires, the more likely to benefit. The A to Z study (Gardner et al, 2007, abstract available here: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=205916) suggests that insulin sensitive + Ornish diet might work but not insulin resistant + Ornish diet.

MCTs can’t be stored, therefore they are good way to boost ketosis but there are no studies.

Is there any benefit in trying to increase animal fat for people who don’t eat (a lot of) meat?

It’s recommended to increase omega-3 fat intake (from omega-3 enriched eggs, fish, etc.), avoid seed oils (full of omega-6 fatty acids).

What about Lipitor, does it counteract a high fat diet?

In a study, males on Lipitor were put on a ketogenic diet (KD), increased their HDL and lowered their TG. Lipitor and a KD are compatible and additive. This doesn’t mean you can’t off the meds eventually.

Where do I get my fibre from?

5+ servings of vegetables a day, some berries. There’s something about nutritional ketosis that makes you not need that much fibre.

When adopting a KD, cholesterol goes up. Is it temporary?

Cholesterol goes up when people lose weight rapidly. We store cholesterol in adipose tissue, therefore losing weight mobilises cholesterol. After 2-3 months it should normalise.

Strategies for travelling?

  • Pete Evans: Be prepared, do the best that you can and don’t beat yourself over bad choices. Carry jerky, coconut oil, hard-boiled eggs, etc.
  • Dr Phinney: Carry nuts, olive oil, sugar-free chocolate.

What about Bulletproof coffee?

  • Pete Evans: Coffee is a stimulant. Why do you need it? Something is out of balance.
  • Dr Phinney: Coffee is inverseley correlated with type 2 diabetes. It’s a personal choice. He has chicken broth with Kerrygold butter when he needs an stimulant.

Links and extra resources

Dr Kieron Rooney

Pete Evans

Sarah Wilson

Dr Steve Phinney

Tom Naughton: Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds

Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

Martha Herbert: The Autism Revolution

Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride: GAPS diet

References

Feinman RD, Pogozelski WK, Astrup A, Bernstein RK, Fine EJ, Westman EC, Accurso A, Frasetto L, McFarlane S, Nielsen JV, Krarup T, Gower BA, Saslow L, Roth KS, Vernon MC, Volek JS, Wilshire GB, Dahlqvist A, Sundberg R, Childers A, Morrison K, Manninen AH, Dashti H, and Wood RJ (2014) Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management. Critical review and evidence base. Nutrition (in press).

Forsythe CE, Phinney SD, Fernandez ML, Quann EE, Wood RJ, Bibus DM (2008) Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids, 43(1), 65-77.

Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, and King AC (2007). Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA, 297(9), 969-977.

Orr JB and Gilks JL (1931) Studies of nutrition. The physique and health of two African tribes. London, H. M. Stationery off.

McClellan WS, DuBois EF (1930). Clinical calorimetry XLV: Prolonged meat diets with a study of kidney function and ketosis. J Biol Chem, 87, 651-668.

National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

Phinney SD, Horton ES, Sims EAH, Hanson J, Danforth E Jr, and Lagrange BM (1980). Capacity for moderate exercise in obese subjects after adaptation to a hypocaloric ketogenic diet. J Clin Invest, 66, 1152-1161.

Phinney SD, Bistrian BR, Wolfe RR, and Blackburn GL (1983). The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. Metabolism, 32,757-768.

Richmond RW (1975) Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians. American Indian Quarterly, 2(2), 146-148.

Saslow LR, Kim S, Daubenmier JJ, Moskowitz JT, Phinney SD, Goldman V, Murphy EJ, Cox RM, Moran P, and Hecht FM (2014). A randomized pilot trial of a moderate carbohydrate diet compared to a very low carbohydrate diet in overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus or prediabetes. PLoS One, 9(4), e91027.

Shimazu T, Hirschey MD, Newman J, He W, Shirakawa K, Le Moan N, Grueter CA, Lim H, Saunders LR, Stevens RD, Newgard CB, Farese RV Jr, de Cabo R,Ulrich S, Akassoglou K, and Verdin E (2013) Suppression of oxidative stress by β-hydroxybutyrate, an endogenous histone deacetylase inhibitor. Science, 339(6116), 211-214.

Volek JS, Phinney SD, Forsythe CE, Quann EE, Wood RJ, Puglisi MJ, Kraemer WJ, Bibus DM, Fernandez ML, and Feinman RD (2008). Carbohydrate restriction has a more favorable impact on the metabolic syndrome than a low fat diet. Lipids, 44(4), 297-309.

Westman EC, Feinman RD, Mavropoulos JC, Vernon MC, Volek JS, Wortman JA, Yancy WS, and Phinney SD (2007) Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism.  Am J Clin Nutr, 86(2), 276-284.

NB: Not all the references are mentioned in these notes.

The Paleo Way

The story of chef Pete Evans has been like that of many other people: he struggled with his and his family’s health issues, found a real food approach to eating, tried it and never looked back. The difference is that, unlike me and my friends, Pete Evans is famous and is cleverly making use of his public status to spread the word. Evans doesn’t care about the media thinking he’s a hippie or an extremist because he knows he can positively impact many lives if he just gets people to eat real food.

That’s how The Paleo Way, a TV series featuring Evans and numerous experts in the paleo world was born. This series has been self-founded and will be aired in Channel 7. Evans enlisted author and nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas and have been presenting a talk entitle The Paleo Way in several cities in Australia. I want to say it’s a promotional event for the series but it certainly had much more content than a typical marketing campaign.

The tickets for the event in Sydney sold out very quickly and they had to change venues. There were approximately 1000 people in the audience. Some were already paleo, but I’d say the majority were newish to the concept and came to find out more.

The event was MCd by personal trainer, former My Kitchen Rules contestant and cookbook author Luke Hines, who shared his experience with eating and living according to the paleo template. He challenged attendees to not eat food out of a packet for a week and to find about functional training.

Also present was singer Wes Carr, who also shared his personal story and newest projects.

Pete Evans presented the trailer for the TV series and spoke about the importance of knowing where our food comes from, choosing meat from animals that have eaten a natural diet, and eating nose-to-tail. He also reminded parents in the audience about their responsibility over what goes into their children’s bodies.

The Paleo Way: Pete Evans

Pete Evans

Whoever has already listened to Nora Gedgaudas noticed that she didn’t really say anything new, but I think it was valuable information for those who didn’t know her. In fact, I think it may have been too much information for some people.

The Paleo Way: Nora Gedgaudas

Nora Gedgaudas

I liked that she included citations in her slides for geeks like me who like to read the papers and not just read one-sentence summaries. I took note of the following interesting bits of information to dig up:

  • 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in Australia will develop cancer by age 85.
  • “The overall record of hominin activities is consistent through the stratified sequence – spanning hundreds to thousands of years – and provides the earliest archaeological evidence of sustained hominin involvement with fleshed animal remains (i.e., persistent carnivory), a foraging adaptation central to many models of hominin evolution.” (Ferraro et. al. 2013, article available here).
  • There’s a difference between “Ice Age” Paleolithic and “Neo-Paleolithic” (<10,000 years ago, i.e. more recent hunter-gatherer populations). Most of our history as humans developed in the "Ice Age" Paleolithic stage.
  • 200,000 years ago we were physiologically the same as now. We occupied every available niche. The foods available determined our shape and physiological requirements.
  • Fat to our physiology means survival. The body prioritises survival.
  • Nutrient density (i.e. dietary fat) was important for our ancestors.
  • As omnivores, we ate whatever was available. So we don’t know exactly what our ancestors ate but we know what they didn’t: processed foods, large amounts of grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.
  • Professor Michael P. Richards, through his work with Stable Isotopic Analysis has determined that early humans were high-level carnivores. We’re designed to get protein source from animal foods.
  • “The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure” (Pontzer et. al. 2012, article available here).
  • “In addition to meeting nutritional needs, animal foods also may have been associated with assisting in the colonization of new environments for hominins, allowing them to converge on a common dietary niche under different environmental conditions. By the later stages of hominin evolution, we have compelling evidence of high levels of meat consumption by Neanderthals… Upper Paleolithic humans appeared to forage on a broader and more geographically variable range of plants and animals. With the origins of agriculture, there was a shift again to more extensive exploitation of plants, including cereals. There was disagreement within the group about the extent to which humans have adapted or adjusted to the exploitation of cereal grains.” (Leonard and Robertson 1994, abstract available here).
  • Hunter-gatherer societies value animal fat.
  • More protein is not necessarily better for us for longevity.
  • Our genes have changed very little to accommodate for the consequences of agriculture. Agriculture also marked the beginning of “living to eat” as opposed to “eating to live”
  • Agriculture today produces massive environmental damage, pollution and water waste. Monocrops mean that humans are more vulnerable to mass famine.
  • “…a decrease in absolute brain size over the past 35,000 years within H. sapiens was paralleled by a corresponding decrease in average body size… This decrease continued through the Neolithic, at least in Europe.” (Ruff et. al. 1997, article available here)
  • Brain size has decreased from 1500 cm3 to 1350 cm3. Why? The brain is a fatty organ and conventional wisdom has pushed us to reduce fat intake. Essential fatty acids for the brain are arachidonic acid and DHA, present in meat and fish. Human brains also tend to shrink as we age.
  • We’re the only species that chooses to eat food we haven’t adapted to eat.
  • Brains are very expensive in energy terms.
  • All starch and carbohydrates are metabolised to sugar with the exception of fibre. Sugar causes glycation, which affects how we age, free radical activity, interference with fat metabolism, depletion of minerals, suppression of the immune system. The brain is especially vulnerable to glycation.
  • We now have an unnatural abundance of food. In the last 13 generations there has been a rapid rise in the amount of carbohydrates. The last 5 generations have seen an increase in the amount of trans fats and vegetable oils. The #1 carbohydrate source is HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). The #1 fat source is hydrogenated soybean oil.
  • Ron Rosedale, MD, after analysing centenarians and animal studies has determined that the marker for a long life are low insulin levels.
  • An interesting article by Dr John Briffa, mentioning Nora Gedgaudas
  • “The LCD [low-carbohydrate diet] is effective for normalizing blood glucose and preventing progression to type 2 diabetes in patients with IGT [impaired glucose tolerance].” (Maekawa et. al. 2014, article available here)
  • An increase in carbohydrate intake is correlated with a decrease in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and an increase in triglycerides). LDL become smaller and denser.
  • “the risk imposed by elevated fasting serum glucose levels on the development of AD may be present before the onset of diagnosed problems with glycemic control, and that it may be independent of the genetic risk associated with possession of the APOEe4 allele.” (Burns et. al. 2013, abstract available here)
  • “We found that increased risk [of dementia] was associated with higher glucose levels even at the lowest end of the glucose spectrum among people who had not received a diagnosis of diabetes, for whom increased risk was not likely to be a result of undiagnosed diabetes.” (Crane et. al. 2013, article available here)
  • Glucose is not the only primary source of fuel for the human body. Fat provides more calories per gram. Ketones are an stable energy source even in the absence of meals. Removes the term “blood sugar” from the mood and cognitive equation.
  • Feeling jittery, fatigued, bitchy or anything other than hungry after a meal is a sign of blood sugar issues.
  • All large mammals are designed to obtain the majority of their caloric intake from fat, through the bacterial fermentation of indigestible fibres. Humans don’t have bacterial fermentation-based digestion, but an hydrochloric acid-based digestion. Plus we have a poor conversion of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) to docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which is the primary fatty acid in brain. Therefore, we are better off getting the required amounts of fats from our diet, with emphasis in pre-formed DHA (fatty fish, grass-fed beef).
  • “Ketone bodies are a major fuel for the brain during the suckling period and hence the stimulation of ketogenesis at birth is an important metabolic event in adaptation of the newborn to extrauterine life.” (Medina and Tabernero 2005, abstract available here)
  • 11% of the brain is arachidonic acid.
  • “The large categories of disease for which ketones may have therapeutic effects are: (1) diseases of substrate insufficiency or insulin resistance, (2) diseases resulting from free radical damage, (3) disease resulting from hypoxia.” (Veech 2004, abstract available here)
  • In summary, our results suggest that experimental brain cancer is manageable through principles of metabolic control where plasma glucose levels are reduced and ketone body levels are elevated. Dietary energy restriction reduces tumour growth through effects on angiogenesis, apoptosis, and inflammation.” (Seyfried 2003, article available here).
  • “These associations may reflect a direct capacity for both
    dietary omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to promote the atherosclerotic process… Whilst dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of thrombosis and might be expected to retard atherogenesis by lowering plasma levels of atherogenic lipoproteins, they may promote atherogenesis through
    their susceptibility to oxidative modification.” (Felton et. al. 1994, abstract available here)
  • “Despite the common belief that high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease, several independent population studies in healthy adults have shown that low total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular and non-cardiac mortality, indicating that high total cholesterol is not a risk factor in a healthy population.” (BMJ 2013, article available here)
  • “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats” (Chowdhury et. al. 2014, abstract available here)
  • Benefits from ketogenic diets include Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Cholesterol is important for membranes, steroidal hormones, normal cognitive function, etc.
  • According to Dr Richard Feinman, the deleterious effects of fats have always been measured in presence of carbohydrates.
  • Ketosis is defined as a concentration of 1-3 mmol/L of ketone bodies. It’s usually determined by measuring b-hydroxybutyrate levels. Ketonix is a new device that measures ketone bodies in breath. Measurement of ketone bodies in blood is the most accurate. To achieve this level, carbohydrate consumption must be less than 50-60 gras per day. Protein consumption must be less than 25 grams per day, so to avoid gluconeogenesis and prevent pathways that lead to aging. This way of eating is also cost-effective.
  • With all cognitive/mood problems it’s recommended to rule out gluten sensitivity.
  • Cyrex Labs, known as the best lab in the world for food sensitivities, are coming to Australia on December this year.
  • Autoimmunity is a silent epidemic. Poly-autoimmunity (multiple autoimmune diseases) is more the norm than the exception.
  • “During 45 years of follow-up, undiagnosed CD [celiac disease] was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death. (Rubio-Tapia et. al. 2009, article available here)
  • Food sensitivity impacts blood glucose and insulin through inflammation.
  • Sensitivity to gluten is a gateway food sensitivity via zonulin, which controls intestinal permeability.
  • Half of cases of gluten sensitivity have cross-reactivity with dairy sensitivity.
  • “Celiac disease autoimmunity may develop at any age, even in the elderly. During the past three decades the prevalence of celiac disease increased 5-fold in the US.” (abstract available here)
  • We should shoot for grass-fed meat because it’s more similar to wild game. CAFO meat has less omega-3 fatty acids, less beta-carotene and is implicated in more E.coli outbreaks.
  • What to do? Avoid the temptation of food as cheap entertainment, take time out, eat plant foods as detoxifying source of antioxidants and micronutrients, avoid GMOs, irradiated foods, supplement when needed.

Nora’s talk was followed by a short Q&A session with all the speakers. I felt the Q&A should have been longer, especially considering the audience size and mixed levels of knowledge.

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A

References

BMJ 2013;347:f6340

Burns CM, Chen K, Kaszniak AW, Lee W, Alexander GE, Bandy D, Fleisher AS, Caselli RJ, and Reiman EM (2013) Higher serum glucose levels are associated with cerebral hypometabolism in Alzheimer regions. Neurology, 80(17), 1557–1564.

Catassi C, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, Sturgeon C, Helzlsouer K, Clipp SL, Gelfond D, Puppa E, Sferruzza A, and Fasano A (2010). Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974. Annals of Medicine, 42, 530–538.

Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, et al. (2014). Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med., 160, 398-406.

Crane PK, Walker R, Hubbard RA, Li G, Nathan DM, Zheng H, Haneuse S, Craft S, Montine TJ, Kahn SE, McCormick W, McCurry SM, Bowen JD, and Larson EB (2013) Glucose levels and risk of dementia. N Engl J Med., 369(6), 540-8.

Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, and Oliver MF (1994). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques. The Lancet, 344(8931), 1195-1196.

Ferraro JV, Plummer TW, Pobiner BL, Oliver JS, Bishop LC, et al. (2013) Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory. PLoS ONE 8(4),
e62174.

Leonard WR and Robertson ML (1994), Evolutionary perspectives on human nutrition: The influence of brain and body size on diet and metabolism. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 6, 77–88.

Maekawa S, Kawahara T, Nomura R, Murase T, Ann Y, Oeholm M, and Harada M. (2014) Retrospective study on the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate diet for impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes., 7, 195-201.

Medina JM and Tabernero A (2005). Lactate utilization by brain cells and its role in CNS development. J Neurosci Res. 79(1-2), 2-10.

Pontzer H, Raichlen DA, Wood BM, Mabulla AZP, Racette SB, et al. (2012) Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity. PLoS ONE 7(7), e40503.

Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA (2009). Gastroenterology, 137(1), 88-93.

Ruff, C. B., Trinkaus, E., & Holliday, T. W. (1997). Body mass and encephalization in pleistocene homo. Nature, 387(6629), 173-6.

Seyfried TN, Sanderson TM, El-Abbadi MM, McGowan R, Mukherjee P (2003). Role of glucose and ketone bodies in the metabolic control of experimental brain cancer. Br J Cancer, 89(7), 1375-82.

Veech RL (2004). The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70(3), 309-19.

Good Food & Wine Show 2010

This weekend has been just like Christmas, I had been waiting for it for a long time with a lot of expectations and now it’s gone. I spent almost all Saturday there but it felt like just a couple of hours.

The ticket for the show costed $28.50 and it included a reserved seat in one of the celebrity chefs’ sessions, plus all food and beverage tastings. I also bought a ticket for the Sunbeam coffee class ($30) and was planning to attend the cheese class, but all sessions were sold out.

When I arrived, at half past 10, there were already people wandering around. There were merchandising stalls where you could purchase trolleys, aprons, tea towels, wine tasting glasses and reusable shopping bags.

Show merchandising

I didn’t buy anything there, and started looking around to have an idea of what was on offer, but then I remembered that I didn’t have tickets to see the other celebrity chefs yet. I went to the theatre box and got tickets for Gary Mehigan & George Calombaris, and for Pete Evans. Then I bought a wine tasting glass and I was ready for the action.

For a moment I thought that it would have been better to attend the morning sessions to be free to get drunk after that, but as time went by it became harder to get to sample the products and take pictures. Speaking about the photos, it was the first time that somebody told me “no photos please”. Maybe he was afraid of someone copying his salad dressing secrets? Oh! or maybe he was afraid of the free publicity that comes with blog posts. The girl in Dolcettini asked me what was the photo for, but was ok with my answer.

It was my first Good Food & Wine Show and I somehow expected top quality stuff. “Good food” also made me think in “healthy food”, which of course is not always the case. There were quality, healthy foods, like most of the nuts.

Duck Creek macadamias

Nuts

Muesli

Australian Almonds

There was also fresh and frozen fruit. The girls in Creative Gourmet were offering smoothies but I didn’t get to try them because there were too many people waiting. There was also a stand with fresh blueberries ($5 a punnet), which fortunately I found just when I was about to leave.

Batlow apples

Creative Gourmet

Then there was the supposedly healthy stuff. Herbalife had a stand, as well as WeightWatchers. WeightWatchers was popular because they gave away food in tiny Asian-style takeaway boxes.

Herbalife

WeightWatchers

There were also all sorts of oils, vinegars and salad dressings. Olive oil was the most popular, but there was also a macadamia oil stand and an avocado oil stand. The Spanish olives and olive oil stand (they represent all brands of these products from Spain) was one of my favourites in this category.

Olive oil

Macadamia oil

Spanish Olives

There were also all sorts of biscuits, crackers, relishes and preserves. Most biscuit stands had a show special of 4 boxes for $10. I tried all the flavours of Tuckers gourmet crackers, which include sweet ones (coffee, vanilla, honey and chocolate) and bought two boxes of savoury and two boxes of sweet crackers. Unfortunately, there were no many cheese stands.

Preserves, coffee, tea

Tuckers gourmet crackers

Tuckers gourmet crackers

Cheese

For the lazy people, there were ready-to-go products. Pitango soups were there, as well as duck prepared in different styles and bagged, ready to be reheated in the microwave. I tried a piece of sweet duck and it was really tasty.

Pitango Innovative Cuisine

Luv-a-duck

There were also houseware stands, like the Miracle Shammy!, Tupperware, Lock-and-Lock and some stands with kitchen gadgets.

Miracle Shammy!

Tupperware

Kitchen gadgets

For the snackers, there was a huge range to choose from. This is where the “good food” name becomes dodgy.

VooDoo

Treats From Home (from the UK)

Mochis

Vege chips

Yogi chips

Playboy energy drink

Of course, there were also sweets that didn’t look that unhealthy.

Go Natural

Chocolates

Dolcettini

Homemade sweets

The serious equipment included some knife stands, as well as top quality appliances.

Beautiful fridges

Appliances

And then there was booze. Heaps of it. Mostly wine. The good thing is that even when I drank a lot, I did alternate between alcohol and nibbles, and I was walking most of the time.

Canberra wines

Wines

Wines

Wines

Wines

Fresita wines

And there was beer too! Not too many breweries, but enough to sample a few nice products.

French beer

Grand Ridge brewery

Stone and Wood brewery

There was also sake (regular, plum and mixed), Spanish sangría (which tasted very much like the cask sangría you can buy in Lima), hand made vodka (I tasted the rose and coffee flavours), cocktails in buckets, and other boozy goodies.

Sake

Hand made vodka

Urban Thirst

Speaking about booze, Skyy Vodka hosted a barman competition.

Skyy Vodka zone

Barman competition

Barman competition

On the non-alcoholic side, there was plenty of coffee to choose from.

Toby Estate coffee

Nespresso machines

Gloria Jean's

There was also canned stuff that is not precisely gourmet but becomes very handy, especially at show prices. I bought three cans of my beloved palmitos in a Latin stand.

Latin Deli

The show had a restaurant featuring menus created by the celebrity chefs. It didn’t cross my mind to go and spend money with all that free food sampling going on, but people seemed to enjoy the dishes.

Show restaurant

Celebrity chefs made appearances in the GoodFood magazine area and were signing books in the show’s only bookshop. There were also cooking demos going on.

Gary Mehigan

Cooking demo

There were queues for entering the celebrity theatre. Only when you see the packed theatre too see two chefs talking a bit about them and cooking a few dishes, you realise how much food is impacting people right now.

Celebrity Theatre

Celebrity Theatre

On the beginning of each session, the presenter pulled three people from the audience to play a game (the classic blind-folded “guess what you’re eating” game). Also, the guy from Jacob’s Creek gave away some bottles of wine, and people were picked out from the audience to sit with the wine guy and watch the show from the stage.

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Gary and George prepared a roasted vegetable salad (with beetroot and onions, plus hazelnuts), a beetroot, feta and olive oil dip, prawns sandwiched between two layers of hummus and roasted, and prawn tortellini (they made the pasta on stage). They made a lot of jokes and showed the proper way of using all your fingers to try the food. Six people were chosen from the audience to sit down on the table on stage and enjoy what was prepared food matched with the sponsor’s wine. The chefs gave away prizes (signed books, pans and a espresso machine) to people who answered Masterchef’s trivia questions.

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Gary Mehigan &amp; George Calombaris

Pete Evan’s pizza making show was not packed and I found it slightly boring. His mate Pauly was supposed to entertain people but I had the feeling that there were more interesting things outside, so I left when he was rolling his dough. I did get a useful tip: to roll dough on semolina flour instead of regular flour for a crispier pizza base.

Pete Evan's show

Pete Evan's show

Pete Evan's show

Matt Moran’s show was the best, in my opinion. His sous chef arrived with a whole lamb, which Matt butchered in front of the amazed audience. Some people didn’t like that part, especially the vegetarian girl who was given a wine because she had “nothing else to look forward to” from the show. Matt made fun of vegetarians, which I would have found offensive if I was one. But it seems that nobody cared because he cooked some amazing looking dishes: roasted lamb with roasted vegetables and gravy, sea scallops with spices (turmeric, etc) seared and served with serrano ham, Brussels sprouts leaves and chestnut pureé, sea scallops served with baby carrots, and lemon mousse with raspberries. Two single girls and two single boys were chosen from the audience to feast on Matt’s food (he was trying to hook them up). A girl got on stage claiming to be one of the boy’s girlfriend, I don’t know if it was true or she just needed attention.

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

Matt Moran's show

One of my last stops was at the Sunbeam coffee class. First Erin showed us how to pour a perfect shot (from bean grinding to knowing when to stop the machine), and Ivan showed us how to texture and pour the milk.

Sunbeam coffee class

Then we went to our places, where each of us got a coffee grinder, a espresso machine, a jug of milk with thermometer, two coffee glasses, two coffee cups, two takeaway cups, an apron and a bottle of milk (this one was shared with the person beside).

Sunbeam coffee class

We practiced as much as we could (my shots were brilliant but my milk pouring sucked) and in the end there was a competition, in which the best flavour and the best milk design were rewarded with Sunbeam grinders.

Espresso shots

Steaming milk

I did learn a lot from this super fast class, and went home with a Sunbeam bag which included a coffee magazine, a recipe booklet, a Gloria Jeans coffee beans bag, a small Sunbeam coffee beans bag and a plastic reusable takeaway cup.

Before leaving I sampled a few more products (more wine!) and bought two blueberry punnets.