The Paleo diet is more of a Life style than a diet. One tries to eat only what our ancestors ate 20 thousand years ago. This would be before the introduction of agriculture. But unless you are just starting out and trying to cleanse the system its generally OK to allow for 15% of non-paleo compliant foods in the diet. And if this percentage is composed of paleo friendly products so much the better. This is what it means to eat “Food for the Modern Hunter Gatherer.”
The My Pal Leo Brand was founded to produce Paleo “Treats”. One of the hardest parts of following the Paleo Lifestyle is to replace the satisfaction and feeling of fullness that comes with baked goods and breads. I have tried some of the products on the market and was not happy with the taste, texture or “mouth-feel.” Finally I realized that if I want something done I had better do it myself ! It took a lot of trial and error but I think you will like the results. As it turned out all my products were also suitable for vegans which meant that I could help out another set of people following a particular way of eating. Though I currently only offer “treats” and breads I have plans for a lot of other great products.
These are the boundaries that I set myself:
No Grains. Well that’s a given. And with the requirement of minimizing starches as well that means using Nut Flour. Baking with nuts is like baking with sand, these flours do not naturally stick together. While some bakers use Eggs I am intent on staying vegan. Thus small amounts of starch are used to help bind the components together.
No Dairy. This is also a given for a Paleo lifestyle.
No Soy. Many nutritionists believe it is not possible to find Soy that has not been contaminated by GMO Strains. But the main reason is that soy contains isoflavones, which are chemically similar to estrogens. I think we have enough phytoestrogens in the environment already.
No Peanuts. Peanuts are really legumes which are not on the Paleo diet anyway. But they are also an allergen that is frequently banned by schools. Some children can have a very severe reaction to peanuts. See also pages 146 to 148 in the Paleo Answer where Loren Cordain gives additional damming evidence against Peanuts.
So what is allowed? In formulating my recipes I started off with coconut. Coconut is a super-food. Enough is written elsewhere that explains this. If a substitute for butter is needed I use coconut oil. The benefits of coconut oil are legion. Another major component is Almond Meal. Some people have allergies to Tree nuts which includes Almonds. This is unfortunate and may be due to being introduced to milk too young (see page 245 of the Paleo Answer.)
When a sweetener is needed I prefer Coconut Sugar. This is a low glycemic sugar (GI of 35). No one who eats my foods reports getting a carb rush or carb crash. Obviously overeating of any item can cause a reaction. Due to the high amount of fiber in my products one feels full very quickly.
I have been asked why I do not use other natural sweeteners such as:
Agave Syrup: Agave is actually pure fructose and is the closest natural equivalent to High Fructose corn syrup. Claims that it is low glycemic should be taken with a pinch of sugar.
Honey: There are many positive aspects to honey. It was available 20,000 years ago BUT it is considered by most vegans to be unacceptable.
Sugar Alcohols: There are many versions and I have used Xylitol in the past. The brand I use is extracted from American Hardwood trees (Birch) Thus it passes the available 20,000 years ago test. It is not a calorie free sweetener having about 50% of the calories of sugar. It is good for teeth in that bacteria in the mouth cannot live on it. Though it has a Glycemic index of from 7-13 I find it produces no adverse reactions in moderation and is an acceptable substitute for sugar.
Another sugar alcohol is Erythritol. It is derived from Corn which was also available 20,000 years. It has no calories and no glycemic reaction. But I notice that my body does not feel good after eating it so I will not use it. That comment also holds for all the other available sweeteners such as Stevia, Monk’s Fruit and the other sugar alcohols like sorbitol and malitol.
Modern Hunter Gathering
Our ancestors were not able to go to the supermarket and pick up some food. They really had to work for it! A failed hunt meant that one had to go hungry. I am very much in favor of missing the occasional meal and doing some form of exercise every day. But if you are going to miss a meal a slice of my bread or a bun with coconut oil on top will kill those hunger pangs until the next meal time.
I hope you enjoy my products and if you do please tell your friends.
Your Friend and Pal