Frugal eating, Offal, and Paleo Truths

 

Before we head on into offal

organ meats

I wanted to say a few things about food and being frugal for more than just financial reasons but ethical ones also.

Is frugal eating how it always should have been? That is before we lost the run of ourselves in the Big Boom and saw steak on our plates more than once a year or at the posh folks BBQs.

Of late I am truly attempting to walk the talk with food not only nutritionally to be an example of health to my clients but also as a nudge of gratitude to the environment and my wallet. I have been fortunate this summer, in that while I am writing and developing new healing programmes, I have some spare time on my hands to play a little with food more so than usual and really push some boundaries. Time that has allowed me to experiment with new foods, simple and fast cooking methods, and to discover some short cuts to including these new foods into your normal meals for those of you that are busier with commitments and have limited time for cooking.

If we wish to be truly healthy we have to put time aside for play (exercise), nourishment (food) and rest (recovery and creativity) in addition to investing in time exploring what it is that is meaningful for us in life; our path so to speak. So it is true to say that health doesn’t just come by sitting with your ass on a sofa; but neither should it be a chore. We owe it to ourselves to tune start tuning in to what it is that best serves us along our path to wellbeing.

My aim for my blog and recipes is to make real food fast and healthy that won’t bust the bank. The amount of money that we spent on foreign superfoods, novel foods, man altered functional foods, and the latest fad supplements during the boom was sheer madness and we are oftentimes afraid to give this up because what will happen then? Well, what if we had an abundance of superfoods available to us locally and in the local hedgerows and fields? With a little time and patience and a keen appetite for nature-venture then you can save yourself a lot of money while also boosting your health.

Why let the recession stop an appetite for adventure when it comes to food and health.

Why let money fears create a sense in us that we cannot afford health; because it is possible for us all, once we look a little out of the box, to own complete health and wellbeing.

And so to balance

I believe that a nice balance of eating (for those not involved in high-end sports demands) is that of a vegetarian and vegan style of eating combined with occasional intake of small to moderate portions of meat and an abundance of fish. In other words most of us don’t require the vast intake of protein with every meal that has been dictated to us; more so a balance according to appetite, activity and stress levels.

What I am suggesting is choosing more wisely the cut and quality of the meat and prioritizing this over quantity. And as the mantra for our vegetables tells us that ‘variety is key’ so too does this apply to meat. And I don’t meat pork instead of beef and bacon once a week; I mean offal and organ meats in addition to the lean prime cuts that we are more familiar with.

I don’t believe that we need the acutely high intake of protein as has been pushed in recent years and although the research does point to this I believe that more research will come to light demonstrating that the body is far more adaptable to fluctuations in macronutrient intake than research first documented. After all in our past we more than likely would have had phases of high protein intake followed by a much sparser phase when meat was not as available save for that saved as dried meat or in the form of meat fats/ lard. I wonder if this cyclical style of eating actually benefitted lean muscle accrual and maintenance by promoting anabolic phases. Anyhow I am merely thinking out loud based on my observations from the past years and that not all people intuitively gravitate towards protein feedings every 3 hours and many find intermittent fasting works well for them.

As ever this style of eating, just as it stands for intermittent fasting is an individual thing and when it comes to nutrition it’s important to find what works best for you. Guidelines are guidelines and it is up to us to find what works best for ourselves with the support of a nutritionist; might I qualify this with an educated and open-minded nutritionist.

paleo cartoon

Speaking personally morning fasting and eating heftier in the evening; and eating more protein on certain days and less on others works for me. You may fall into this, or the exact opposite; you may fare better on a big breakfast and eating lighter in the evening; or you may prefer to graze or not; you may be the very one that does better on two bigger meals a day and flummux all the proponents of grazing across the day. You may fare better on no grains, or with some; with less meat protein or more; dairy free or dairy fiend; gluten-free or you may be ok on traditionally prepared wheat grain products. The permutations are vast; and it takes a bit of patience and intuitive experimentation to find what works for you and I don’t believe that obsessive rules are healthy for anyone.

And this is the beauty of nutrition… no ONE is right. And no one knows your body better than you. So some trial and error is always going to be involved in finding what works for you and your body; don’t give up in the trying.

Note that athletes have higher protein requirements than less active individuals and so do require protein with most main meals. However if you are an athlete and serious about your health and sports performance then I highly recommend that you add organ meats and offal to your weekly diet for numerous reasons including bone, joint, blood, nerve and immune system health.

Once you become more intuitive with your eating you will probably find that you go through phases of lots of meat and then phases with less. Trust that your body is dictating its needs

{If you would like to read more about intermittent fasting see here for a great review http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting}

I believe that everything in relation to food should be accompanied by the word respect.

When it comes to food it pays to respect:

  • Your body – nourish with care
  • The food – treat it with care
  • The source of your food – buy it with thought
  • Food sustainability – serve just enough and use what is left and become educated in what best serves the planet
  • Tried and tested methods of food preparation
  • Foods available on your doorstep
  • Mother Nature; nature rarely got the balance of nutrition in food wrong so why tamper excessively with it
  • Your roots

 

 Respect for our bodies.

love-myself-quotes-5

  • If we fail to meet our bodies calls for nutrition then how can we expect, in the long-term, to thrive in full health? We are made from what we eat and the energy to drive these processes also comes from food hence health and the nutritional value of our food choices are inextricably linked in a masterpiece that science will never fully and absolutely comprehend.
  • This means paying heed to our bodies requirements for nourishment. We have a duty of care to our bodies to meet his/her requirements for water, protein, healthy and essential fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, probiotics and prebiotics, and also total energy from digestible carbohydrates to fuel all the astonishing things that our bodies do in every millisecond of the day while awake or asleep; in rest, creativity or movement.

Respect for the food.

i love you food

    • When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetable produce we want to be eating these as close to the ground as possible; meats, poultry and fish should be wild or organic; dairy and dairy products ideally raw or at the very least organic and unprocessed; grains, pulses, nuts and seeds as close to their original unprocessed form as possible and so on. In other words eat as close to Mother Nature as possible. She didn’t get it wrong and we should respect this!
    • More often than not the more a food has been processed the less its nutritional value and the greater the content of synthetic additives. Food processing allows the food industry to alter a food, create a long shelf life product and add an elevated price tag. We buy into the convenience but we pay with our long-term health.
    • And then we must consider how we can best improve the nutritional value of the food and/ or prolong its longevity without losing nutrition (to the best of our capacity). For example tomatoes improve in lutein content when they are cooked or heated and blended, certain vegetables are more digestible when gently steamed, others are perfect raw; pickling, dehydrating/ drying, and preserving improves longevity; fermenting improves not only the longevity of food but also the nutritional content of certain nutrients such as probiotics and vitamin K. Then we have a range of cooking methods to please us which are sort of neutral such as steaming, sautéing, casserole, steam stir-fry, grilling without burning, roasting, soups, etc.
    • How we prepare our food is important in relation to the nutritional value of the food. Firstly we must avoid damaging food and the nutrients contained in food which may be caused by, for example, over-heating, burning or charring, processing, leaching nutrients into boiling water, chemically altering food by various food industry tactics (e.g. hydrogenated fats), or subjecting the food to microwaves or radiation.
    • From land, sky, ocean and river to table we have a duty to preserve the food as best we can right up to the point consumption; such that it nourishes us to optimal capacity while also having minimal impact on the environment.

Respect for the source of the food

I believe that it is important to be mindful of animal welfare and choose animals, poultry and fish that has been ethically reared, treated with compassion, enjoyed a life of freedom in the outdoors weather permitting, killed humanely, and honoured in a way that sees us use as much of the animal as possible in cooking.

When you are purchasing any of the following consider and honour that they came from an animal: all dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, game, and anything derived from or made from these. If the recession has taught us anything it is that eating only prime beef cuts is wasteful, thoughtless, self-indulgent and shamefully egotistical.

Instead we should be embracing new ways of cooking and eating all the different cuts of the animal right down to the bone marrow and organs. Accepted there is a fine line with how far each of us will personally and culturally go when it comes to eating the entire animal but it is something to try before you turn your nose up at it. In fact your health will most certainly benefit from the inclusion of more organ meats or offal in your diet.

Many chefs are now offering courses and demos on the subject of eating nose to tail. If you wish to educate yourself with less expense there are also several cook books on the subject available as well as an abundance of information on the World Wide Web.

milkmarket02

This is the Milk Market in Limerick on a Saturday; if you haven’t yet experienced a visit to your local market then I highly recommend it. No better way to get back in touch with where food comes from.

Respect for food sustainability.

As best you can be mindful of food sustainability:

  •  Support local food producers and especially those growing locally and organically.
  • Consider buying from initiatives that sell direct from farm to home; for example meat or veggie delivery boxes.
  • Support local food industry and initiatives.
  • Support restaurants that prioritize buying local and / or organic produce.
  • If you live by the sea then you are very blessed and can often purchase fish direct from the boat or a local market. For the most part a lot of this fish is wild and sustainable and the quality is incomparable to the farmed fish available in the local supermarkets.

Copper coast 15

 Ireland’s Copper Coast – Annestown Harbour

When in doubt I suggest buying Irish/ UK and local as best you can.

If-Organic-Farming-Is-The-Natural-Way-133863542230_xlarge

  • Learn to make more of every bit of food that you buy. For example use chicken bones or meat roast bones to make stock, use left-over veggies in soups and casseroles, puree fruits that are starting to go over-ripe; dry roast over-ripe bananas; freeze left-overs for another day, use coffee grounds in the garden, use vegetable pulp in baking, feed your animals appropriate raw scraps and bones http://www.rawfoodvets.com/articles/article7.

As our grandparents said:

waste-not-want-not-copy-346x154

Respect the tried and trusted methods of food preparation.

Many of which improve the nutritional value of food and / or minimize digestive upset. Such methods that are more traditional to us here in Europe include:

  • Soaking (e.g. cereals, grains and legumes)
  • Sprouting (e.g. beans, nuts and seeds)
  • Slow cooking (e.g. meats)
  • Casserole and stews (make any foods taste better!)
  • Soups and bone broths
  • Preserving and pickling (e.g. fruits and vegetables; fish and meats)
  • Drying and dehydrating (e.g. meats, fish, and fruits and vegetables)
  • Fermenting (e.g. dairy foods such as yogurt and kefir; sauerkraut, kombucha etc. For Asian cultures this includes miso and tempeh)
  • Smoking (meats and fish)

 Irish-traditional-cooking

Darina Allen’s recent cookbook is a helpful resource for traditional meat, fish and vegetable preparation. I do not agree with the vast use of wheat and baked goods however!

The following article on Marks Daily Apple is superb http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-definitive-guide-to-traditional-food-preparation-and-preservation/#axzz38n3m0Sdr.

Respect what is on your doorstep:

Do you even know the extent of what is on your doorstep?

To eat, and for FREE and more often than not these foods come with special nutritive and seasonal properties specific to what we need. Wow; a true pharmacy as nature intended.

For example nettles and dandelions arrive in spring and support the circulation and liver and are incredibly nourishing and rich in iron; wild autumn berries help us to stock up on antioxidants and anti-viral compounds in anticipation of the winter and sloes make a kicking gin to aid the soul on a winter’s night JI am only starting to get back to the roots I had as a child when I grew up foraging in the hedgerows and making jams for pocket-money. It is important to know what you are doing when it comes to specific foods such as mushrooms, berries and leafy plants however once you know what you are doing there is an abundance of edible foods in our locality.

foraging

Here are some examples of plants that I am more comfortable with thus far in my foraging journey and so are suitable for the beginner. As ever know the fields and hedgerows that you choose to pick from to ensure that they are free from chemical sprays or pollution; the odd spider or insect is the least of your worries!

 

  • Berries – blackberries, elderberries, wild blueberries and strawberries
  • Fruits – crab apples, rose hips, sloes
  • Nuts – Hazelnuts, beechnuts
  • Your bog standard mushroom –I am not adequately confidant or qualified to pick any other mushrooms and I suggest that you seek the advice of an expert when it comes to mushrooms!
  • Leaves such as young beech leaves, dandelion leaves, plantain, and nettles.
  • Seaweeds and marsh samphire
  • Petals such as rose petals

There is an abundance of foraging sites on the internet for example http://www.mcqbushcraft.co.uk/2014/03/wild-edible-guide/ has a free eBook with many plants I have not adventured into yet but I will; have fun!

Also here is a YouTube and there are many more online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9QguMxavx0

Respect the balance of food as mother nature intended.

TeachOurChildrenToEatRealFood

One always has to remember that the food industry has a sole purpose of making money and it achieves this by packaging up food into transformed formats with long shelf lives and marked up prices over that of the food in its natural state.

It also achieves profit by patenting twisted forms of the original foods; for example corn and soya are hidden in numerous foods in many different ways thanks to food technology.

For the most part the food industry is NOT concerned with your health otherwise there would be more support for foods in their complete and natural state with minimal processing save that of traditional methods to improve nutrient availability and prolong shelf life more naturally. However foods in their natural states do not make big $$$ nor can they be patented.

If you value your health and are respectful of Mother Nature you will see that she rarely gets it wrong. For example we started a crazy notion that fats were bad for us back in the 1980s and started to remove fats from food and came up with all sorts of food solutions and a lucrative low-fat food industry; however fats in their natural form for the most part when taken in balance are good for us; in fact they are essential.

So as best you can, use the whole animal, fish, or plant in your diet. Each part holds its own specific nutrition profile that as a whole provides that which individual parts alone cannot provide; in other words food synergism (where the sum of the parts adds to more than the individual parts alone).

Each week, aim to vary your choices of plant and animal foods from the complete food spectrum so as to achieve nutrient balance. It may not be possible to achieve perfection in one day; but over the course of days variety will more than likely mean that all your nutrient needs are met.

A few examples of how each part of food has its own unique strength:

  • Organ meats and offal hold nutrients that lack in other leaner cuts of meat.
  • Tendons, ligaments, feet, and grizzly bits of meat are rich in collagen helpful for our skin, hair, nails and joints.
  • The meat directly under the skin of fish is very high in nutrition (provided that the fish swim in clean waters)
  • The skin on well washed fruits and vegetables holds antioxidants and factors that support our immune systems or are anti-bacterial or anti-viral (e.g. flavonoids).
  • The heads of fish are especially rich in omega 3.

We are now learning that to only choose the lean cuts of meat may lead to problems with elevated homocysteine as the leaner cuts are high in methionine and lacking in folate which tends to be found in the offal meats. Also the fat on grass-fed and grass finished meat or game meat is a helpful source of CLA and omega 3…. The king pin of inflammation control.

Respect your roots:

world-map

motherearth

I have a theory which I have been discussing with numerous health, nutrition, and sports science experts, and this is what I call regional eating. I believe that Mother Nature provides an abundance of heath foods specific to the needs of those living in the immediate environment. In other words that we are provided for with foods that are balanced to meet our specific cultural needs.

 Given we live in multi-cultural times then it is important to look at where your ancestors come from when applying this line of thinking. In short here are a few thoughts:

  • Look around you for what may be your native superfoods – here in Ireland and the UK cold water seafood, sea-weeds, root vegetables, wild berries, tree nuts such as hazelnuts, leafy herbs such as dandelion and nettles, and cruciferous vegetables or leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are an important part of our diets and easily available to us and relatively inexpensive.

 

  • Why spend a fortune on foreign superfoods like Goji berries from the Himalayas when we have an abundance of healing foods available to us; for example: elderberries, blackberries and rosehips grow in the hedgerows can be used to make cordials in the autumn instead of buying synthetic Vitamin C supplements as immune support for the Winter months. These berries can also be used to make anti-viral cordials and syrups to treat colds and flus and replace a need for cough and cold remedies. Hardy herbs like parsley, thyme and rosemary will grow like weeds in the garden and are antibacterial, antifungal and digestion supporting. Wild garlic is a super immune booster with heart, circulation and digestion benefits and can be found in abundance in the springtime http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/she-said/2014/apr/06/foraging-for-food-tis-the-season-of-wild-garlic . Seaweeds, helpful to support endogenous detox pathways, are an alternative to spending a fortune on chlorella supplements.

 

  • Our lands are rich and fertile providing meat and game that is rich in CLA, carnitine, creatine, Vitamin A, Vitamin K2, Vitamin D, and omega 3 in addition to vitamins and minerals such as zinc, iron and B vitamins. When meats come from omega 3 rich grass the fats on the meat hold an improved nutrition profile over grain fed meats.

 

  • Our luscious grass also gives us excellent quality butter. Butter contains many nutrients vital to growth, brain function and the immune system. Butter has nourished healthy populations throughout the globe for thousands of years. Choose organic butter as fats have a habit of storing toxins hence fattier foods that are not organic are more likely to hold toxins.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • I believe that as you travel further north (in latitude) a diet more focused on fats from sources rich in saturated fats and omega 3 fats from cold water fish may benefit you over coconut fats and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. A balance of all is important however those from more Northern climes may fare better on fats from animal and game meats, dairy (when tolerated), cold water fish and seaweeds compared to someone from the Mediterranean and Caribbean who may fare better on warmer water fish (less rich in omega 3), avocados, olive oil and coconut for example.
  • Certain food combinations were historically for a reason, for example cruciferous vegetables protect against cancer; cured meats raise the incidence of colon cancer; interesting that both are often served together.

bacon and cabbage

Bacon and cabbage

colcannon-puffs

Colcannon

Colcannon is another neat cabbage trick; this is a twist on the traditional colcannon recipe that I am sure can be simplified slightly and would be a fun one for the children http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/03/colcannon-puffs.html

  • Another one to note is the addition of herbs such as rosemary and thyme to meats; these herbs are antibacterial, anti-fungal, aid the digestion of fats and are also high in antioxidants.

 

  • Traditionally the addition of kale and parsley to mashed potato not only added colour but also antioxidants to potato dishes during the winter months when softer leafier vegetables may no longer have been available.

 

  • Slow cooked stews and casseroles jammers with root vegetables, animal fats and with sparse scattering of meat provided warmth and sustenance in the winter months. Offal meats such as liver, kidney, heart, tongue and tripe or cheaper bone cuts and leftovers would have frequently been added to stews to provide intense nutrition with minimal cost. Also as these foods are dense in nutrition a little went a long way.

We should respect these old traditional ways of cooking when more nutrient and calorie dense foods such as the organ meats and offal were slow cooked with vegetables and often barley, oats or potatoes, to provide sustaining and nourishing meals; we have completely lost the run our ourselves with our giant portions of steak and prime cuts of meat and on the other hand our obsession (orthorexia) with calorie counting.

 When we place our trust once more in our body’ cues for food and signals for satiety and choose healthful foods and eat intuitively then I firmly believe that health, wellness and ideal body weight are a normal and expected consequence.

If we don’t pay heed to our bodies demands for nutrition or our emotional needs and need for stimulus then we will always be hungry for something….. Listen 🙂

Plato-Quote

 

  • In Ireland and Britain we have an abundance of berries and nuts in the hedgerows and edible leaves in the fields; however we still do have a lot of research to do on many of these plants to document the specific importance of these foods as sources of nutrition and in illness prevention and treatment. Don’t let this stop you from including them in your diet! It shouldn’t take research to tell us that a diet abundant in natural wild foods is beneficial to health. This knowledge was known before; more than likely by the Druids whom were incredible scholars, herbalists and healers; sadly a lot of this knowledge was conveniently lost when the church became powerful or when the Romans decided to write segments of our history.

 

  • Interesting foods worthy of a mention and accessible to those of us without herbalists training include:

Please click on the link here to read the remainder of this article. In this mini e-book that is 38 pages long I will discuss in more depth my feelings on Paleo; and then we will get stuck in to offal and  organ meats, their contribution to health, cooking tips and will also link numerous helpful book web links and resources. I also include recipes and recipe links.

Frugal Eating, Offal, and Paleo Truths

As you can see this article has taken me weeks to write and it is very much appreciated if you can donate a few euro, no matter how small as a token of thanks for all my time.

Please go here to make a small donation and follow the link at the bottom that says ‘buy now’.

Many thanks,

with love

Andrea

PS here are a few recipes that link in with this article:

8 thoughts on “Frugal eating, Offal, and Paleo Truths

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