Hey guys! It's Sarah Ellsworth again, and today we are talking about the foods you really need to be eating! I'm a big fan of lists, especially when they're food related, so today I'm sharing the TOP FIVE paleo foods you really need to add to your diet!
1. Organ meats
There are several reasons you should add organ meats to your diet. First and foremost, in the interest of respecting the animals that we are consuming, we need to do our best to consume them snout to tail. There's no reason to let the pieces and parts go to waste in favor of eating just the traditional cuts. If you get over the squeamishness of eating a liver, heart, kidney, or tongue, and learn to prepare them well, you'll find that the texture and taste rival any other cut of meat. They are also cost effective, as they're the cuts people don't usually eat. And, the third and best reason to add organ meats to your diet are how dang good they are for you! Assuming you're getting the pieces and parts from an animal that was properly raised (pasture raised and grass fed cows, for instance), organ meats are a nutritional powerhouse filled with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nourishing micronutrients that your body needs. Don't deny yourself the health benefits of organ meats because you're a little squeamish! (Remember my post about getting out of your comfort zone with Pete's Paleo meals? Keep at it, and get yourself some organ meats!) If you're hesitant and need to ease into organ meats, try beef liver pills, or grinding organ meats into meatballs or meatloaf with traditional cuts. Pete has a recipe in Paleo By Season for a bison bolognese which includes chicken liver!
2. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles
When I was younger, I thought sauerkraut was disgusting. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I ever even tasted it, but the slimy substance that came in packages near the hot dogs at the store couldn't possibly taste good, right? Well, I was wrong. Totally wrong. I am now addicted to sauerkraut and eat it daily! As with all foods, though, you have to make sure you're finding the right one. You want a sauerkraut that is "alive" and full of rich probiotics. So, I was at least right that I shouldn't be eating the slimy packages of sauerkraut in the regular grocery store. Good sauerkraut tastes a little bit like a dill pickle to me - crunchy, tangy, salty, and completely delicious. And good sauerkraut is also beneficial to the gut, immune system, cognitive function, and the endocrine system. If you're wondering, it's also supposed to be a good laxative. Ha! If you're like me and you have access to a great sauerkraut, you eat it plain by the forkful. It's also great on hot dogs and other link sausages or burgers, mixed into chicken, tuna, or potato salad, and really anywhere else you may want a tangy bite. You can't go wrong adding sauerkraut!
3. Pastured eggs
When I was younger, my dad and mom would tease back and forth about eggs. My mom liked the "expensive" eggs, because she said they tasted better. My dad, the frugal of the two, laughed and said the cheap eggs were fine, and he was sure that she couldn't really taste a difference. Well, sorry, Dad - I have to go with Mom on this one! I feel strongly about eating pastured eggs for two reasons. First, commercially sold eggs usually come from chickens that are crammed into tiny little cages in dark cramped barns, and are not fed the kinds of food chickens should be eating. While I don't consider myself an animal activist, I do believe strongly that animals should be treated humanely, particularly if they're providing our food! So I always choose eggs that come from chickens who get lots of outside space, lots of sunshine, and the food chickens are supposed to eat. Hint - chickens are not vegetarians! Sunshine and bugs make the happiest chickens and the best eggs! Second, pastured eggs are more nutritious. They have more vitamins and minerals than commercially raised eggs - and you can see it in the bright orange yolks! They're more expensive, but they're worth every penny. I won't even get into the taste - you'll have to try for yourself to believe it! I think even my dad would have to admit that farm raised chicken eggs taste better. (By the way, don't get confused between pastured and pasteurized. I've seen companies capitalize on the growing trend toward pastured eggs, and use marketing techniques to make it look like their eggs are pastured, when they're really just pasteurized - i.e., put into a warm bath to kill bacteria. Try to get your eggs straight from the farmer, or find one of the nationally sold brands of eggs that are truly pastured!)
No, I'm not talking about the neon colored jigglers we ate as kids. This is the kind that has a lot of serious health benefits and isn't loaded with sugar and artificial dyes! Basically, gelatin is powdered bone broth - it comes from the cartilage, bones, and collagen of animals. (Again, don't mistake any gelatin for good gelatin - you want gelatin coming from healthy, sustainably and ethically raised animals. Look for "grass fed" gelatin, not the stuff you get in a superstore!) You can get the kind that gels, or the kind that dissolves without gelling - either works, and both have incredible benefits! When you add gelatin to your diet, you'll see an improvement in skin, hair, nails, mood, and gut health. Particularly if you don't have time or patience to fix bone broth, gelatin is a fantastic substitute. Mix the non-gelling kind into any drink or smoothie, or use the gelling kind to make small flavored gummies, sweetened with fruit purée. It's an easy and delicious way to improve your health! You can also find a recipe for gummies here on the blog.
5. Bone broth
Pete and Sarah have posted about the benefits of bone broth here before, so I won't belabor the point too much. But I will say that Grandma had it right - when you're sick, you need chicken soup. The massive health benefits of bone broth, combined with the vegetables and spices, are incredibly healing to the body and soul. Bone broth is full of easily digestible protein, which is so critical when you're sick. But - if bone broth can speed up healing when you're sick, just imagine what it can do for a healthy and active person! You'll be on the way to a healthy gut if you add a cup of bone broth to your diet every day. I swear that even my vision improves when I drink my bone broth! One easy recipe for bone broth is to take a chicken carcass picked clean after roasting, throw it in the slow cooker with a quartered onion (leave the skin on - it adds color!), a few carrots, some celery, a splash of apple cider vinegar, and then just enough water to cover. Leave on slow for 24-48 hours, and strain. Or, of course, just order from Pete! I like to eat my bone broth in soups, use it in place of water when I fix rice or grits (not totally paleo, but soooo delicious!), or drink it straight with herbs and spices. My gut is a much happier place when I regularly get my bone broth! So, there you have it! This is my list of foods you need to be eating. What did I miss? Tell me in the comments!