So. Moon Man has decided to be a caveman.
There’s this diet making the rounds, which apparently became wildly popular when I wasn’t lookin’, generally referred to as the Paleo Diet, or Primal Eating, or similar; basically, it says that you should eat like a caveman. Anything you could reasonably hunt/gather for yourself is fair game (and assuming a basic level of nomadism is ok here, so you’re not stuck with nothing but squash during those long winter months); anything you’d have to settle down and farm is off-limits–so no grains, for instance, and whenever possible your meats/veggies should be organic/chemical-free/grass-fed/etc. If you like, you can think of it as Atkins with more grunting (I confess: that’s pretty much exactly how I think of it), and a lot of people we love and respect have been following it with great success.
So Moon Man decided to give it a try. And darned if he didn’t lose weight (five pounds!) in the first week, even with a coupla splurge days thrown into the mix (every diet has to have wiggle room. Tell me I can never have chocolate cake again, and watch me laugh at you until I wet myself. However, tell me that I just can’t have any until next Tuesday, and we’re pretty ok.).
First off, I have to brag on him a little bit. Moon Man just up and lost five pounds, gang. He just went and did that. He looked at the doughnuts at the store, said “ehh, no thanks”, and went and ate some leaves and grass and dinosaurs and things, and lost five pounds. In a week. Just, y’know, because. This is not shabby, and I for one am highly impressed.
But I also have to brag on myself here, because as it turns out, his new eating plan is also having some effects on me. I hadn’t originally intended to follow him down that rabbit hole; but y’know, really, it does feel kinda awkward to be the only one at the table chowing down on a pile of rolls while your hubby is virtuously munching on his asparagus. So I find myself, intentionally or otherwise, eating more-or-less the same way he does: lots of protein and veggies, and rather less carbs than I used to consume.
And lo and behold, I also lost a coupla pounds last week. Wouldja lookit that.
I think the most exciting change around here, though, is that all of this is making me flex my cooking muscles again. We’d gotten into a bit of a food rut: we’d found our favorites, and, as with most families, I just cooked those over and over. Beef and noodles. Tacos. Breaded chicken in various forms. Steak and asparagus, sure, but with a nice big baked potato on the side. We dabbled periodically in things like mashed cauliflower and spaghetti squash, but not in any really committed sort of way.
But now a lot of my old recipes aren’t really usable. “Beef and noodles”, minus the noodles, pretty much just becomes “pile of beef chunks on plate”…and since they came with a sort of gravy, which was, of course, flour-based, it actually becomes “pile of dry beef chunks on plate”. Mmm, yummy! “Breaded chicken” becomes “chicken slab”. “Tacos” become “seasoned ground meat heap”.
So while he’s learning how to distinguish hunger from boredom and doing free-time research on the science behind the Paleo diet (and very helpfully finding hilarious “Is Is Paleo?” flowcharts for me, to make grocery shopping less daunting), I’m hunting down new recipes and finding intriguing new proteins to test-drive. Last week, for instance, we had steelhead trout, which, as it turns out, is friggin’ delicious. We tried lamb arm chops, which we loved; and I made carnitas on Monday (pro tip: when halving the amount of meat the recipe calls for, the wise cook also halves the number of chipotles one tosses into the pot. The unwise cook forgets to do this, and ends up with profoundly clear sinuses. We’ll leave it to you to guess which camp I landed in.). Tonight, I think, will be salmon pinwheels, or maybe kebabs, one of the few tried-and-true recipes to survive the Paleorevolution.
And if I am learning nothing else from this, I am learning that cultural training really can, in fact, go jump directly into the nearest lake. It is completely and totally possible to take leaves and seeds and weeds and things and make a delicious meal out of ’em. There is no law that says that chicken must be breaded. Not even one of the Ten Commandments can be translated, even extremely loosely, as “thou shalt serve potatoes with thy beef”. Heck, there’s not even a rule that says that things like tacos must be served on tortillas (pro tip: lettuce leaves add a bit of crunch, and hold taco filling just as readily as a tortilla does).
So despite my original response to Moon Man’s announcement that he was going to be a caveman–which, I hate to admit, was something along the lines of “I support you in your desire to make healthier choices, but can you please take a moment to acknowledge that you are inconveniencing the bejeezus outta me right now? I mean, seriously, every single one of my recipes is going straight out the window here, and the only replacement you have suggested so far is ‘make things without flour’. I am going to need more guidance, and possibly a coupla shots of vodka”–I am pleased to announce that I’m warming up to the idea after all. It’s making me cook outside my comfort zone, making me learn some new recipes, making me try some new foods…and as it turns out, I’m enjoying the heck out of it.
And besides, it’s helping make Moon Man healthier. And I’ll take that result any day.