Ham and Avocado Clafoutis
I am doing it. I’ve made the conscious decision to go Paleo. For at least 30 days, before I reassess the situation and adjust accordingly. I’m going to miss all the things I’ve grown to love: pasta, rice, bread, sweet treats… But this is just until I reach my goals of losing weight and gaining some lean muscle. Then afterwards, who knows? I may do an 80/20 Paleo or Primal Paleo (explained further when you read below).
Please note: I’ve been receiving emails asking if I am going Paleo for life. I just wanted to clarify that I am doing this for 30 days, or until I lose my target amount of weight (which is 10 to 15 pounds). After I eat clean Paleo for 30 days, I will review and adjust the plan accordingly (very normal for Paleo), and most likely switch to 80/20 Paleo, which is 80% of the week eating clean Paleo, and 20% of the week eating “regular” food.
For now, stay with me for some history bits. Yes, I am a bit of a geek that way. But if you don’t care much for this stuff, skip this and go straight away to the recipe.
If you haven’t heard of the Paleo “diet” (I use the word “diet” cautiously), Wiki can answer your queries here and so can Dr. Mercola here, and author Robb Wolf here. In a nutshell, Paleo is a nutritional regime that mimics (“mimic” being the operative word) the eating habits of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. If you remember some of your History stuff, you will know that we, Homo Sapiens, started as a nomadic bunch who hunted and foraged for food. This is known as the Paleolithic Age. What did they eat? They ate lean meat (game), vegetables, roots, fruits, and nuts.
Then, in a turn of events, we Home Sapiens, discovered that we can plant stuff and domesticate some beasts. This was when our ancestors abandoned the nomadic ways and settled on lands (usually near a body of water), so they can farm their food - we became agriculturists. This is known as the Neolithic Age. And what did we eat? We also ate lean meat, veggies, roots, fruits, and nuts, but then we also ate the large amount of grains that we planted. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with eating grains, but the “grains” we know nowadays (these modern times) are so genetically-modified that they are a far cry from the ancient grains that we used to grow.
In the book “The World: A History,” author Felipe Fernandez-Armesto talked lengthily about this critical period in our history when Home Sapiens switched from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. This defined us as a civilization.
Medical anthropologists noted that with this switch came also a remarkable change in the health and mortality of Home Sapiens. Strikingly, we started becoming afflicted with what’s been called “diseases of affluence” or “diseases of civilization” – osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, allergies, hypertension, obesity, depression, cancer, to name a few. None of our Paleolithic ancestors had any of these afflictions! It’s been argued also that our agrarian revolution has paved the way for GMO‘s and highly-processed Frankenstein-type foods today, i.e. from grains to hotdogs to fake cheeses.
As a result of decades of research in evolutionary biology, some scientists believe that if we mimic our ancestral dietary habits, which are actually built-in to our evolutionary blueprint (otherwise known as DNA), we can be leaner, stronger, and live longer lives. In other words, we can have the body we were designed to have!
Known also as the “caveman’s diet” or “original human diet,” Paleo stipulates an eating regimen high on lean protein (both pasture meat and wild fish/seafood), heavy on plants (veggies), moderate fruits and nuts, low or no dairy (depends on which type of Paleo you are), definitely no grains, no refined sugar, no artificial preservatives.
Although Paleo is based on an ancient regime, it does not, however, mean that it is a ‘rudimentary’ (read: boring) diet, nor does it reflectthe exact quality of cavemen food. We all know it would be next to impossible to perfectly replicate a Paleolithic diet , given our current situation (industrialization and all…). However, it attempts to remodel a food paradigm based on the hunter-gatherer’s diet, which is quite different from what is recommended by our government (a.k.a. political interests / corporations) today (see food pyramid - usually heavy on grains).
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with the mechanics of Paleo. If you are interested in the science behind it, get Robb Wolf’s book, “The Paleo Solution” from the health section of your bookstore.
Do I buy in to Paleo? I think I lean towards “YES,” but results speak louder to me, so we’ll see! What I hope is to lose a few pounds from this, maybe eliminate my vertigo, clear up acne on my forehead, have more energy, and live a more active, injury-free life – all the usual issues brought by the stress of having 3 kids, a full-time job, and a part-time blog.
I’ve started my Paleo journey already, so you’re going to see a whole slew of no-grain, no-refined-sugar posts in the next few weeks / months, but don’t fret! I am the only dieter at home, so my family will still be eating “regular” food, although with Paleo leanings. I’m sure you will see a smattering of non-Paleo foods here and there in the time to come. Plus, I have many other recipes to post that were created before this switch.
I am sure that this will not be a goodbye to carbs forever. I will be back to indulge in them a little. Just on occasion. As what many Paleo tribers do in time (called 80/20 Paleo), they will eat Paleo-approved foods on weekdays but conscientiously engage in treats and cheats on the weekends. Like I said, this will come after a solid Paleo foundation has been established.
That said, please be nice to me. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all regime, and even for Paleo, there are many classifications: there’s the Autoimmune Paleo, Low-Carb Paleo, Lacto Paleo (or Primal), 80/20 Paleo, Vegetarian Paleo. It’s easy to criticize people (“you’re not Paleo enough!” or “that’s not real Paleo!”), so as a reference, can I interest you in reading this “Seven Shades of Paleo” article?
To me, Paleo seems to be a lifestyle regime that makes sense TO ME; it feels instinctive and organic. I don’t feel deprived; I don’t feel restricted, in a sense; I don’t feel hungry. And whether I become an 80/20 Paleo or a Lacto Paleo, it feels like I still have control over my life! Let’s see where this takes me…
To start, I have a Paleo-friendly, savoury clafoutis dish. It is grain-free and dairy-free. I also used organic, free-run eggs, as well as preservative-free bone-in ham.
I’m not going to kid you, going Paleo is not cheap! Grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free poultry, nitrate-free cured meats, wild-caught fish, free-run eggs, organic-everything-possible…it all adds up! Carbs are waaaaay cheaper! 99 cents for a 2-pound bag of pasta compared to $20 for a tiny piece of steak! Obviously, those who are in a tighter budget will find it hard to stick to strict Paleo because of the price of protein alone is through-the-roof. Why is it so hard to be healthy? Oh, don’t even get me started on the conspiracy theories and the Monsanto stuff…!
But please, don’t let that ruin your mood. Let’s have some savoury Paleo clafoutis…
- extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil or olive oil
- 5 eggs, free-run
- a pinch of sea salt
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) almond meal
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) coconut flour
- 100 ml (7 tbsp / 3.5 fl oz) organic coconut milk
- 100 ml (7 tbsp / 3.5 fl oz) homemade or organic almond milk
- a handful of finely chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, savory, thyme, chervil, oregano
- 1 medium red onion, finely minced
- 225 grams (1/2 lb / 8 oz) bone-in ham, antibiotic-/hormone-/nitrate-free, diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) and brush with olive oil or coconut oil a 7 x 4 pan or individual ramekins.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sea salt until pale yellow and frothy.
- Sift and fold in the almond meal and coconut flour, and give it a few stirs.
- Stir in the coconut milk and almond milk.
- Add your chopped herbs and mix until combined. Set aside the mixture.
- Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat, add some olive oil or coconut oil. Sweat the red onions until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the egg mixture.
- Pour the batter in the pan or ramekins.
- Scatter evenly the diced avocado and ham over the egg mixture.
- Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden and set.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.