Designing a menu for success

Pecan crusted Paleo Salmon with Paleo Coleslaw and cauliflower with onion.

So, you’re either contemplating a new, healthy lifestyle or you are already trying to eat better but you’re finding your options lacking variety and flavor. This is a common problem for people new to Paleo, and especially for those who are either in or coming from a Whole30. A friend of mine was once on a rather restrictive diet that left him eating salad and chicken breast for nearly every meal. He said there were other options available to him, but they were either too complicated or difficult to make in a reasonable amount of time which led him to the excessively bland and repetitive diet. Eventually, he quit eating that way and went back to his old eating habits and gaining back the weight he lost.

This is more common than you would think, and was the primary concern of my wife Sherry when we first discussed changing our eating habits to be healthy. She did a lot of research before we started, and yet we still found our food to be a little on the bland side compared to what we were used to eating. This was due to a few reasons.

  1. We were going from a diet that was heavy in sugar and other fillers. These are full of flavor and, while not good for us, are quite delicious. Do you ever wonder why there’s sugar in savory foods? It’s because we love it!
  2. Our bodies hadn’t adjusted to the reduced sugar in the food which made them taste more bland than they really were.
  3. We were used to foods with lots of spices. Many recipes go easy on spices.

The first month or so of cooking when adhering to our first Whole30 was a rather bland, although not entirely unpleasant experience. As Sherry learned the flavors and our mouths were freed from the sugar influence and addiction, we were rewarded with being able to taste more subtle flavors we had never noticed before. Foods we used to eat and were not impressed with before our Whole30 took on new favor. I used to tolerate sweet potatoes. After starting my Whole30, I began to really appreciate them. Now, I love them!

Another thing that happened is Sherry began to learn how to use the new ingredients properly, the ratios and amounts to use, and this applied to the spices as well. While using the same spices, using them in conjunction with new ingredients came with a learning curve. Fortunately for us, she’s overcome that curve, and I can say honestly that the foods she makes for us now are flavor-filled and delicious! We are not wanting for more flavorful foods.

Of course, it’s been fifteen months of clean eating that have led us to where we are today. Foods that taste sweet to Sherry and I are still probably semi-sweet to those who still eat sugar-added or pre-processed foods regularly. I cannot drink a soda anymore: it is literally so sweet as to make me nauseous. No, this is not a bad thing. It keeps me from ever wanting another Coke again, and I see that as a good thing for my health and longevity.

As for meals, I look forward to them not only because they fuel my body, but because they are delicious. A large part of the human experience lies in the food we eat, and most people feel that it’s not worth living if the food is bland and terrible and I agree! That’s why I’m so happy Sherry has found such amazing recipes and has learned to cook so well with them.

To find success in adopting a healthy lifestyle, you have to find success in the kitchen. Fortunately, we have the Internet and sites like my wife’s that has many great recipes to choose from. Don’t shy away from experimentation with spices, too. It’s amazing how much a little bit of spice can transform an otherwise bland dish.

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