Primal Pantry

Primal Pantry opened in Teneriffe last week and that's exciting because it's Brisbane's first and only 100% paleo restaurant. I went over for breakfast with my blogger buddy Jess from Nutrition and Style last Thursday to check it out, and although neither of us follows a primal diet (Jess is a vegetarian) we were both impressed.

We ordered the cinnamon pancakes with grilled figs & pistachio crumb and the cacao granola with berry compote & coconut cream, both of which were delicious, satisfying and very reasonably priced at $7.50 a plate. We were slightly less enamoured with our smoothies - I chose 'The Hulk' which wasn't smoothly blended so the whole lime (pith and all) made it little too strong and chewy for me. Jess' Pina Colda, on the other hand, could've used a bit more oomph.* The service was super friendly and the ambience is nice. Parking is a nightmare in that part of town but Primal Pantry offers such a unique dining experience I reckon it's worth circling the block a few times to get in there.

* Note: Primal Pantry just let me know that they've adjusted their smoothie recipes so I'm keen to give The  Hulk another go ASAP and let you know what I think!

My Take on Paleo

You may have noticed quite a few paleo recipes popping up on the blog over the years. I like posting vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes too. I don't follow any of these diets specifically, but I'm interested in all different approaches to nutrition and the enjoyment of food, so I like to keep an open mind and let my body (and taste buds) decide what works best.

Paleo gets a bad wrap for being caveman obsessed and cult-like. People think it's all about gnawing on heaps of undercooked meat but actually it's a pretty balanced approach to eating. I was introduced to the primal concept years ago by my brother who runs a Crossfit gym and trains elite athletes in Toronto. It's well accepted in those circles that a paleo diet contributes to people being able to get fit, lean, and really really strong really fast. The premise is based on the principles of evolution and supposes that our (humans) digestive system was designed to run on the kinds of foods that were available to pre-agricultural revolution man - so fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, fish and meats are all in - basically anything that can be hunted and gathered in the wild. Grains, dairy, anything processed, refined, or factory farmed is out. It is restrictive in the context of our 21st century supermarket food choices, but thinking about it in those terms kind of misses the point. Here's what I like about paleo:

First, learning about this and other diets has really opened my mind about what a 'proper meal' looks like. There's no reason breakfast has to be cereal from a box, lunch a sandwich, and dinner something that involves pasta, rice, or potatoes. The North American food culture I grew up in promoted a super starchy diet as a balanced one, so re-thinking what components my body wants and needs at different times of day has made my food choices more varied and much more interesting.

Second, in the Crossfit world there's a lot of discussion around 'optimal health'. Most of us feel pretty good most of the time, but are we really optimal? Are we getting enough sleep? How are our energy levels? Are we a little bloated? Are we clear eyed and clear headed? Do we often have aches and pains we just try to ignore? Diet is the key to a lot of these things, and for many people sugar, gluten, and/or dairy can cause slight inflammation that leads to us feeling a little bit crappy.  We might not really pay attention to this sub-optimal state of our health when it's omnipresent, but if we experiment with 'eating clean' and cutting our certain foods one by one to see how our bodies reacts we might just discover something about what works (or don't) that changes how amazing we feel in a big way.

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Catherine Roberts