Meats & Sweets and Other Treats

I like being me. No makeovers or do-overs. No plastic surgery or Botox. Authenticity is the meat and potatoes of living a life of simplicity and purpose. I do, however, sometimes feel the need to change things up a little. It could be as easy as adding a new dress to my closet for a fresh take on Summer, or as simple as experimenting with different types of produce, spices, and unique finds from ethnic markets to give me the zip! I’m craving.

This weekend I was hankering for some of that same zest to add to my ol’ standard of meat n’ taters I was planning for our dinner guests and I thought… hmmmm, what can I do to add a twist on the usuh?! Everyone loves meat and potatoes—especially if you’re gluten free—but being health conscious and low carb is important to remember when whipping up a meal like this.

“He’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy” is a common expression and an example of how eating these two favorite foods together has become ingrained in our society. Even our DNA.

This interesting article by National Geographic written about the Evolution of Our Diet states that a nutrient dense diet based on meat and tubers is what made us the “high energy, big brained masters-of-our-domain” that we are today.

I often think I could easily live a nomadic lifestyle because I have so few personal belongings. I’m pretty sure everything I need—or would want to save—could fit into one large checked bag. Yes… I love my kitchen table and my desk, but I don’t need them. They’re pretty and I’m grateful for them, but more importantly, they are replaceable. What I need is my family, my Scotties, just enough clothing and shoes for different temperatures, and a few, very special photos and small gifts my family has given me.

I also keep pretty simple eating habits. I’m a huge proponent of eating clean and love the way the diet of Nomads—or the present day Paleo/Stone Age/Caveman Diet—makes me feel. I’m energetic, high spirited and strong when closely following Paleo. I like an energy-dense diet with a lot of meat and vegetables because it works for me. I sleep better and have much more of a fueled and free feeling on a no-carb or low carb diet.

The Paleo Diet is loosely based on the eating habits of our ancestors in the Paleolithic period, between 2.6 million and 10,000 years ago.

Before agriculture, we presumably lived as hunter–gatherers foraging for our food. There are many variations of this nutritional plan, but below is a basic list of what to eat on the Paleo Diet from Loren Cordain, PhD, founder of the Paleo movement:

  • Grass-produced meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthful oils (Olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

I like to get my food from different spots… for example, the Fresh Market for produce and Joseph’s for meat and fish. I don’t catch my own on a regular basis—but I do grow my own fruits—though they’re not enough to sustain us yet. It’s also difficult in South Florida to have a garden in the summer because of the heat, but we have successfully grown carrots and tomatoes!

It’s easy to eat well and stay healthy on a gluten free or Paleo diet at home, but much harder to navigate when traveling.

I’ve found that if I can’t find meat that isn’t breaded, or fried in batter, or cooked in a rue or sauce with a thickening agent (like flour) I have to resort to starches for energy—in addition to a vegetable. Roots and tubers were foods used in the Stone Age when one couldn’t find meat. It was a back-up.

Potatoes are also my backup food—particularly french fries. I don’t eat mashed potatoes (except for Thanksgiving) and I did have a baked potato in Idaho. 😂 But for the most part, I stay away from potatoes because they’re heavy and I feel tired afterward. French fries are different, however. I’m not sure exactly why, but I feel fine when I have frites all over the world or a few fries at my local burger joint!

You do have to be careful with french fries if you’re gluten intolerant or have celiac, as most seasoned varieties contain gluten.

You also want to confirm that the fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer since most places use their fryers for breaded items such as chicken fingers and onion rings.

So instead of mashed potatoes, I made Paleo-friendly mashed sweet potatoes sautéed together with fresh spinach. Equal parts of each, and equally wonderful! It was colorful and flavorful and we all indulged.

Some other delicious meat and potatoes makeovers (for the not-so-carb conscious gluten free folks) are:

Burgers with Truffle Fries
Ground sirloin and french fries with a touch of truffle oil, a sprinkle of parsley and a delicately grated Parmesan cheese

Breaded Lamb Chops with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Single cut lollipop lamb chops, gluten free breadcrumbs, and red potatoes cut in half and tossed in olive oil and fresh chopped rosemary

BBQ Pork Ribs with Sweet Potato Fries
Grilled baby back ribs or Spareribs with sweet potatoes, sliced into wedges and tossed with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and a sprinkle of paprika and baked until golden and cooked through

Chicken Thighs in Marinara with Baked-sliced Russet Potatoes
Chicken thighs simmered in marinara sauce served with Russet potatoes sliced into wedges and baked, tossed with cherry tomatoes

Grilled Skirt Steak with Yukon Golds
Skirt steak (outside cut) rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper served with Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced and baked in one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of salted butter and sprinkled with chopped fresh basil

There’s no one way of eating that is right for everyone, so it’s important to identify what foods are working for you when trying to heal and achieve wellness. Meat and potatoes can be a healthy option, just remember to eat your veggies and choose quality meat from animals that were raised and fed in a natural way. It’s healthier and more nutritious. 😀