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The paleo diet: just like grandma used to make October 19, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in food/cooking.
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I know this isn’t really sciencey in the physics sense, but it’s been an interesting exploration for me.  In the past couple of months, I have been doing some dietary changes, primarily because I’m finding that, with my celiac disease, I really can’t tolerate any grains except rice.  Even the wonderful, delicious, gluten-free Udi’s bread and muffins obviously do a number on me and have to go.

As a result of trying to go grain-free, I’ve started reading a lot about the paleo and primal diets.  It turns out I’d pretty much gotten rid of dairy (although I have another post about that particular adventure) and beans since those have made me sick for a long time.

When you read the comments about paleo by non-paleo folks, it’s interesting how they discuss it as an extreme diet, how it’s horribly based on animal foods, etc.  I understand what they mean.  I have always had a bit of trouble with the idea of eating organ meats, which are touted as wonder foods.  I remember being force-fed liver as a kid and forced to cook it as a teenager.  I watched in disgust as my parents and grand-parents would squabble over turkey hearts and gizzards at Thanksgiving.  (Heck, my dad and grandmother still argue about it.)  Who would eat that stuff?!

Thinking about these things brought me back to a lot of the dreaded trips to relatives as a kid.  Beyond the organ meats, there were canned veggies.  My grandmother canned everything, and with the exception of peaches, it was generally pretty gross once it came out of the jar.  That’s what they did on the farms: grow as much as they could during the summer and then can it for the winter.  Old habits die hard when you grow up on a farm, so that’s what we ate for dinner at grandma’s: lots of canned veggies.

I often wondered about how these old ladies could live well into their nineties eating some of this stuff.  It could only be attributable to their sturdy constitutions, as far as I was concerned.  They had those hardy German-Russian and Norwegian genes to keep them going.

Except now I’m sitting here in my 30s with an autoimmune disorder that’s becoming increasingly common and I’m starting to wonder…if I ate that awful stuff, could I live into my 90s?  Because really, I look at this “extreme paleo diet” and am realizing that it’s really not that different than the things that farm families ate all the time in the rural areas of North Dakota just 100 years ago.

I pulled out my copy of “German Food and Folkways” and started looking very carefully at the recipes.  You know what I noticed was lacking?  Flour.  There are a few recipes here and there, but they’re scattered and there’s no section that focuses on baked goods.

If you click on the pic, you can buy a copy of the book.

If you click on the pic, you can buy a copy of the book.

I did find a huge section talking about meats.  Apparently my German-Russian ancestors probably gorged on liver and kidney.  They ate tons of fresh eggs and raw or fermented dairy.  And then there were the veggies: copious amounts of beets, cabbage, and potatoes.

Corn was fed to animals when there wasn’t much to graze, so no one in their right mind would eat it.  Wheat flour was used occasionally but not all the time because it was a lot of work to process and would go bad pretty quickly, not to mention attract rodents and other pests.

Now I’m starting to wonder.  Rather than telling people that I’m going on the paleo diet, which people think is extreme, I wonder if they would react better to me calling it the traditional German homesteader diet?  Because bacon is involved, I’m sure they’ll be more open to it.

And now you’ll have to excuse me…I have to see if I can force myself to cook some liver and onions.

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Comments»

1. Cop Car - October 20, 2013

No matter what you call your diet, it is obvious that you must eat what agrees with your systems. Different people eat differently. (How astounding!)
Because my husband’s mother was Serbian, and (old) Serbia was the bread basket (wheat-growing area) of (old) Yugoslavia, she specialized in wonderful pastries – loaded with butter, sugar or honey, and nuts. Oy! Because my mother-in-law was allergic to nearly all fresh fruits, she relied mostly upon canned fruits. (I can still see her preparing fresh fruits for her family, knowing that she would soon break out in a rash.) For an unknown reason, she relied upon canned vegetables. To this day, Hunky Husband thinks that fresh veggies are for the birds. He will, if I cut it up for him, eat fresh fruit.
Some of us will eat nearly anything that will stay in place long enough for us to stab it with a fork. Being able to eat anything, I relish the organ meats that you eschew.
Good luck in your quest for health and long life!

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mareserinitatis - October 29, 2013

If it helps, I made rumaki last week and it wasn’t bad. Next, I’m going to try making some liver pate. I just worry that I won’t be able to make it as well as my favorite (now off-limits) german restaurant.

I used to love canned veggies, but after living in California, I can’t stand them.

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