What is Paleo?

What is Paelo??
I first asked that question more than a year ago and I got a very vague answer that didn’t completely satisfy my curiosity. I was told Paleo was a diet based on eating the same foods as our ancestors the caveman would have consumed.

Paleo Caveman Diet???
Paleo Caveman Diet???

The next logical question is WHY?? We have an abundant variety of food, why go back to eating like prehistoric man?

The theory is that we should be eating a diet similar to that of the caveman because this is the way our bodies have evolved to eat. Eating outside of this diet causes metabolic issues and modern illnesses,  due to our bodies not yet evolving to cope with modern manufactured foods.

Paleo Brochure on Clean Eating
Paleo Brochure on Clean Eating

Hmm, okay. So I am a natural born skeptic.

The Paleo diet has also been heralded as the latest and greatest new Hollywood weight loss diet. So with all this publicity it’s no wonder people are asking “What is Paleo?”

Hubby and I are in Cairns. As we were exploring yesterday day we noticed a popular new franchise, the Paleo Café. In the hope of better understanding this lifestyle and the food we decided we would return for breakfast.

Paleo Cafe Menu
Paleo Cafe Menu

Fast forward a day and we were strolling toward the cafe.  A terrible thought occurred to me!

I said to hubby. “I hope the Paleo diet includes coffee!”

It was my moment of panic! Would this be the deal breaker for me? Anyone that knows me would realise I NEED my morning coffee!
Mr GG reassured me that they would have coffee.

I was still very apprehensive.

We took a seat in a funky orange chair, at a rustic wood table and I frantically scanned the menu. Some people think coffee is bad for you… maybe these people would be anti caffeine, my drug of choice!

Then I remembered seeing a French Cafe across the hall! WHEW!! If worst comes to worse, I would sneak over there for a quick shot! I know the French believe in coffee!

To my relief coffee was on the menu!

Paleo Coffee Bullet Proof Shot
Paleo Coffee Bullet Proof Shot

There was even a multitude of ways the beverage could be served. I ordered my regular skim milk cappuccino but I could have also had it made with coconut milk, almond milk, lactose free, or full cream milk.

So it seems the cavemen were able to collect enough beans in Paleolithic times to brew coffee. What a relief!

I noticed coffee drinkers could also choose some boosts to add to their morning hit. I chose to upgrade my coffee to a “Bullet Proof Coffee.” I asked what Bullet Proof Coffee is and was told the coffee gets a shot of grass fed butter and MCT Oil (medium-chain triglycerides, which are six times stronger than coconut oil) whipped in. It’s claimed the upgrade will enhance brain function.

I figured after last nights cocktails I could use all the help I could get, and anyway, it was only an extra $2. BARGAIN!

Paelo Bullet Proof Coffee
Paelo Bullet Proof Coffee

The Coffee was probably the best I have every had!

Wow, I can’t believe I have said that. Especially given how skeptical I am of brain boosters and hunter gathering diets.  I don’t even know what coffee beans they used but it was perfect.

Just the right strength without any bitterness, the bulletproof enhancer added nutty flavour and a slightly oily texture which gave the drink a fuller mouth feel. It was great.

Even if it doesn’t enhance my brain I’m still pleased to say it’s one of the best coffees I have ever had.

MR GG loves his morning smoothie and there were some great flavours on offer. He ordered the Salted Caramel Thick Shake.
This was a smoothie which included blended dates, cashew butter, banana, maple syrup, sea salt & coconut milk. WOW! It was lush! So sweet and caramelly, with a decent level of saltiness. Being made with coconut milk it wasn’t as heavy as I had feared. I’m not a smoothie drinker because I usually find that regular milk is too heavy for me, but this smoothie was delicious.

We were both very impressed with the Paleo cafe menu.  The breakfast options were appealing whether you’re Paleo or not. The menu is full of delicious, fresh meals with plenty of vegetables, salad greens and flavours. I decided it was time to do a little more research. I asked the staff about the Paleo Pyramid which was featured on the wall.

Paleo Food Pyramid
Paleo Food Pyramid

My first question is why nuts were at the top of the pyramid. Are nuts “bad”? It was explained that they are not bad but are calorie dense. They were at the top of the food pyramid because they would have been harder to find prior to agriculture and therefor would have been eaten less often, and in smaller quantities. So I guess the nuts occupy the same position as fats and oils do on our regular healthy eating pyramid.

I noticed that grains, legumes and beans were missing from the pyramid. I asked why these healthy complex carbohydrates and fibre rich foods were absent. I was told that they were not part of the human diet because prior to agriculture the quantity available wasn’t sufficient to provide a meal so they weren’t eaten. Therefore these foods are now toxic to our system  and cause inflamation and diseases. For example Phytic acid from legumes is referred to as an antinutrient. Meaning it’s felt this substance depletes the nutrient load from foods you are consuming.

It’s all very interesting, I do believe that over processed carbohydrates like white flour in abundance and refined white sugar is something we could stand to reduce in our diet, but I am having trouble getting my head around the lack of complex carbohydrates  aspect of the diet. As a former vegetarian I lived off lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and tofu and never felt better.

Paleo Products
Paleo Products

I took a walk around the shop whilst we waited on a meal. There were a multitude of packaged food for sale. Items like alternative breakfast products, trail mixes and supplements.

That was when I realised diary was also missing from the pyramid.  I didn’t need to ask why? I guess caveman didn’t chase around cows in the spring time looking for milk.  That does seem like a mistake. I’m sure a caveman would realise  a baby cow was being kept alive by the mother cow’s milk.  It’s not a huge leap for caveman to borrow a cup of milk from a cow if he was starving. But it seems the Paleo diet says that did not happen.

So I guess at this point I should consider myself lucky to be getting a coffee!

Chilli Eggs Paleo Breakfast
Chilli Eggs Paleo Breakfast

Just then the Chilli Eggs arrived at the table. My questions about the Paleo diet disappeared completely.  This was a great looking plate of food in anyone’s language.  Beautifully soft poached free range eggs with incredibly orange yolky centres served on a savoury “bread”, spinach leaves, avocado and crispy bacon topped with a chilli, capsicum jam that was just wonderful. The dish was garnished with fresh coriander sprigs and served with a wedge of lime. All the flavours on the plate were so fresh and healthy.

Paleo Breakfast BBQ Pulled Pork
Paleo Breakfast BBQ Pulled Pork

I had ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork which included smokey slow cooked pork served on a golden sweet potato and cauliflower hash, with baby spinach, savoury bread and poached eggs. There were so many wonderful flavours on the plate. I was curious about the savoury “bread”.  I found this bread was from a recipe which is in the Paleo Cafe Lifestyle & Cookbook. Looking thorough the recipe it was made using seeds, herbs, spices and a lot of eggs, 12 eggs for a small loaf from memory! Seems eggs were not in short supply in caveman times. The bread itself was a dense, home style loaf with plenty of flavour and a great vehicle for the lovely food we were eating.

Paleo Cookbook
Paleo Cookbook

So I am sure your wondering what my verdict is on the Paleo Diet. Just so you know, I don’t go in for fad diets or the latest and greatest “new” way to eat.  I think when you get to my age you have seen so many food trends come and go, that jumping on a bandwagon isn’t going to happen. What I do think is that this is a healthy way to eat… some of the time. So many good healthy food principles are present in this diet.  The reduction in processed foods has got to be a positive. The inclusion of a “colourful” plate,  a huge variety of vegetables, meaning a more varied nutrient load, lots of fibre and plenty of protein is definitely good. I think this diet is so much more healthy than the average regular eaters diet.

Unfortunately the whole idea of cutting out nutrient rich, unprocessed food groups does not sit well with me.  Especially since the only thing grass roots scientists can agree on is that no one is sure what Paleolithic man ate. The only thing that’s certain is that it varied in every area.  My guess is that it was absolutely NOT the small range of commercialised beef, lamb, chicken and pork that we get today. It is more likely to have been rodents and small game, lean protein and lizards.

Paleo Cafe - What is Paleo?
Paleo Cafe – What is Paleo?

Am I going Paleo? No, for me the breakfast plate looks like the style of food I already eat and love. I believe legumes, beans, rice etc do belong in my diet, and I am not convinced that my body suffered because of these foods.

What do I think of the Paleo Cafe? I love it! I would eat here everyday of the week.  The food is delicious, healthy and absolutely pure in terms of the most natural, local produce being served.

Paleo Cafe on Urbanspoon

Paleo Cafe

Shop 15, 62 Grafton St, Cairns, QLD, 4870

Ph: 07 4041 3885


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