Our latest Heroes in the Kitchen is Sam Greene chief cook in his household and another meal plan subscriber who follows a modified paleo diet. We know that a lot of you are wondering about the paleo diet, so Sam shares how he took control in the kitchen and how he made this diet work for his family in today’s feature. Thanks Sam!
Note: We at Cook Smarts are not advocates of any one diet. We’re just advocates for home cooking and making eating decisions that are best for you and your family and of course, spreading the smarts on cooking
Name: Sam Greene
City, State: Washington, D.C.
Outside of the kitchen I: Am a Program Manager at the Department of Homeland Security.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: Panko Crusted Fish Tacos
Why did you become paleo?
I had been a division one athlete so I thought I knew everything about fitness and nutrition until after college when I quickly blew up like a balloon to a thunderous two hundred and forty-seven pounds. My father referred to me as “Tatanka” (the Lakota word for Buffalo that he learned from the movie “Dances with Wolves”). Something had to be done! I began looking into CrossFit that I had heard about from my friend, and checked it out and loved it. Through CrossFit, I learned about Paleo. It was really my first in depth exploration of nutrition.
What’s been the biggest challenge of the switch?
I tweaked my Paleo diet to be more personal. The concepts of Paleo, to me, at least, seemed to be a good start, but not the end all be all. What seemed to be the core concepts supported by Paleo enthusiasts and Paleo haters alike was that refined sugars are absolutely terrible for you. Dairy, grains, soy, meat, amount of fruit consumption, nuts and other fats, and legumes are constantly being debated by every health advocate. For me, it was simple – go with the common denominator and personalize the rest. I got rid of refined sugars and the weight melted off. A summary of my personal tweaks are below:
- For veggies – Popeye had it right! Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are by far and away the best for me, but all veggies are good.
- Fruits – Citruses are awesome! However, all fruits are very good for everyone. Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, tangerines just have more of the vitamins and minerals I’m looking for.
- Meats – Sample them all, but stick primarily to seafood, turkey, chicken, and some beef. You don’t need to eat a pound a day. Keep the amount moderate.
- Fats – Some nuts that are good are almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. Avocados are amazing and make one of nature’s greatest achievements – enjoy!
- Dairy – Enjoy! Especially the almighty egg.
- Grains – Most wheat based grains are not good for my goals. However, whole grain, fortified bran have some benefits. Other grains like rice are just nutritionally empty. They offer few nutrients but are not harmful so I don’t mind eating tons of sushi on cheat meals.
- Sweets / Junk Foods / Fast Food – Never! Unless it’s 3 am and I’m in a poor state of mind and have been cheating on my eating habits with beer for the last several hours.
For those that are considering paleo, what are the new pantry staples they might need?
- Many staples like olive oil, mustard, and plenty of different types of vinegars – are items you probably already have in your pantry currently. These items help you make your own easy and delicious salad dressings since most store bought ones are heavy with sugar
- Another is to stock up on your favorite breakfast items (eggs, bacon, fruit, etc.). This is so in case you’re just so busy that you forget to defrost meat or just want breakfast for dinner, which is always an awesome idea. Breakfast is always good and can be made easily/li>
- I also keep jerky, baby carrots, and plenty of fruit around for snacking too
How do you most commonly substitute or alter our recipes to make it work for your diet?
I’ll substitute meat for tofu and I use Braggs instead of soy sauce. I will also substitute cauliflower rice for regular rice. You can also do lettuce wraps or stuffed cabbages instead of tacos or burritos.
What are some good resources you’d point people to who are learning more about the paleo diet?
There are a ton. Some good ones to start on are:
- Websites: Mark’s Daily Apple; Robb Wolf; Dr. Terry Wahls
- Books / Movies: The Omnivore’s Dilemma; Food, Inc.; The Perfect Human Diet
Thanks to Sam for sharing his story. Below he also shares one of his go-to paleo recipes, a great breakfast for dinner option.
- Nitrate free bacon, sliced into ½” pieces – 4
- Yellow onion, chopped – ¼
- Sweet potato fries or tater tots – 2 hand fulls
- Spinach – 2 hand fulls
- Eggs, beaten – 4
- Tabasco sauce
- Fruits of choice
- Avocado – ½
- Set frying pan over medium to medium-high heat
- Add sliced bacon. When bacon begins to sizzle, add the onions and sweet potato. If the sweet potato is French fries, break them up into smaller pieces
- Once bacon is dark around the edges and onions are translucent, add the spinach and use a large spoon or spatula to mix everything together. Ensure the spinach becomes coated with the bacon grease and begins to soften
- Once spinach softens, add the eggs and tabasco to flavor. As the eggs begin to cook, scramble them or fold to make an omelet. When eggs are cooked to your liking (runny or firm), turn off the stove, but let the pan remain on the burner to stay warm
- Chop up your fruit(s) of choice and slice avocado. My fruit of choice is usually pineapple.
- Transfer scramble / omelet to plate and top with avocado slices, and serve with fruit on the side. I like to enjoy this with a nice hot cup of tea.