Grazing in Green Pastures

green pastures

Green Pastures (link to zomato, as no website for restaurant)

Location – Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, Manila, Philippines

Type of Establishment – Restaurant

Serving – Lunch and Dinner

Level of Paleo – Paleo-catered

Price – ££

On the off chance, we Googled ‘Paleo Manila’, not really expecting to find anything of consequence. However, as luck would have it, there happened to be a Paleo friendly restaurant in the mall next door to our hotel in Manila. Needless to say, we had to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised. A create your own salad bar, plenty of organic fare, homemade juices full of goodness, 3 kinds of cauliflower rice, and various flavours of Kombucha. We had found the right place. We ordered a ‘large plate for 3-4’ of New York strip steak, with organic market veggies, for the 2 of us, alongside sweet potato fries, which were literally the best I’ve ever had, including my own. Not too crispy, not soaked in oil, completely the right flavour with nothing added. It was also very reasonably priced. Although we were in Asia, things in Metro Manila are very Western, (including Debenhams and M&S!) which influences the prices to be Western also. However, a bottle of Kombucha, 2 glasses of organic red wine, a large sharing plate and a side, came to  roughly £40, which for a Paleo option is very reasonable. Highly recommended if ever you find yourself at a loose end for dinner in Manila.

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An Experiment in Asia

I have recently returned from a 9 day trip to The Philippines, and if you’ve read my last post, you’ll have seen I spoke about obsession and neuroticism regarding my following of a paleo lifestyle. This somewhat unfortunate personality trait extends into other aspects of my life, and as a result, I found myself concerned over what I was eating and drinking in Asia, in my efforts to avoid contaminated food and water. As I mentioned previously, my approach to Paleo has altered over the recent months, and while I did not indulge at the breakfast buffets, or liberally poured soy sauce all over my meals, I did make some choices that I knew wouldn’t have too much of an adverse effect, both to ensure I fulfilled my hunger, and enjoyed the experience of tasty Philippine dishes. A couple of bites of Halo Halo (a traditional Philippino dessert that translated means “mixed together”, of shaved ice, evaporated milk, coconut, with boiled sweet beans, jelly and candies underneath) didn’t do me any harm, nor did a plate of steamed veggies with a peanut sauce. I also ate quite a lot of rice, which I felt no negative effects of, and the odd portion of fries/potato wedges when there really was no other choice I wanted to risk. Luckily, meat and vegetables are the majority of the diet, and so when our hosts laid out a Thanksgiving dinner of Lechon (suckling pig), Turkey and delicious sweet potato, I was more than happy to partake. Of course, I have no way of knowing the long term effects eating rice and the odd bit of sugar has had, but judging by how I felt throughout the trip and after eating these, I’m inclined to say it won’t be too bad. My body is usually quite good at telling me how it’s feeling, and I’m pleased to say it responded rather well the whole trip. We even managed to find a Paleo friendly restaurant in Manila, so look out for this in my next post. I guess the point of this post is to build on my last, and say do what you need to do to enjoy life and feel great. A little bit of what you can tolerate every now and then won’t kill you.

Back in the game

I admit, its been a while. That is not down to a reversal in my eating habits, but simply due to a lack of eating out, finding new, paleo-friendly places (as most Paleo Brits know, they’re few and far between) and a little bit of dialling down my personal use of Paleo chats, research and constant listening of podcasts. I had unfortunately found myself becoming a little neurotic and obsessive about what and where I was eating which frankly started to invade my social life! The continuous emerging research can give quite differing opinion at times, confusing even the most open minded individual. Once I dialled that back, I found I was able to enjoy food a lot more and not be so worried every time I went to a wedding or travelled abroad. The result has been a slight relaxation in rules for me, on special occasions and difficult situations only, which has overall increased my enjoyment of these events, and ultimately lowered my overall stress level, which I really only see as a good thing. As I see it, we can all only do our best, and if that means consuming something that may not be 100% Paleo (I’m not talking about indulging in a buffet laden with gluten and chemical filled items or throwing back 10 beers every weekend, which would potentially cause some people a lot of problems, myself included, but the odd gluten free crème brulee at your best friend’s wedding isn’t the end of the world. It took me a long time to realise that, but once I did, I have to say I feel a lot better about things, and it has actually resulted in me not craving these things as much, or compensating by eating 5 fruits a day, and my overall health has not changed. In fact, I would wager it has actually improved with the removal of that stress in my life. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or guilty, or nervous about what to eat, or really want a small scoop of organic ice cream made with 3 ingredients, make an informed choice. If you know you’ll be rolling around with stomach cramps for the next 8 hours, then maybe let it be. But if it will add to your enjoyment of something, or allow you to try something you’ll never get the chance to again, then go for it. You know your body better than anyone else. And above all, it may improve your mind.

Happy Home = Happy Hogs

image

Home Farm Happy Hogs

Depending on where you live in the UK, there may be an abundance or a scarcity of farms and farm shops where you can purchase eggs, meat and other products that are of a better quality and genuinely taste more like real food. These places are not always grass fed, free range, organic, hormone free etc, so care is required when visiting as it may not be the better choice. They are also often quite a lot more expensive than the supermarkets. (Now, while the most hardcore bloggers in the Paleo community might advocate only the freshest, most organic, grass fed meat and veg should be consumed, those of us on average incomes know this isn’t always possible, and decisions should be made accordingly, dependent on what is available in your area/what your budget allows). We are lucky where we live in Oxfordshire to have quite a few places we are able to purchase these items from. One such establishment is Home Farm Happy Hogs. After correspondence with Jayne, we placed our order and at the beginning of June we received our half (40kg) a Berkshire pig. Said pig was raised outdoors, free-range, hormone and antibiotic free, and was butchered, boned and delivered to us for a total of £182. That’s £3.75/kg. We would, on average, buy pork twice a week from the supermarket, usually an outdoor bred pork belly, which means the animal spent at least half it’s life outdoors. Not bad for a grocery store, but it was most likely fattened up at a higher speed than nature intended in that second half. The price? £3.75/kg. So while there is argument that grass fed, organic, hormone and antibiotic free is more expensive, in this case it’s competitive. The taste was by far better, the quality amazing, and we still have some in our freezers almost 3 months later. It costs slightly more if you want bacon and sausages, but if you get a pork belly, you can make your own bacon in 10 days! Delivery is within a 20 mile radius only, but the fact that these places exist shows that the food movement is changing, and for us Paleo folk, that is great news!

Let’s Get Together!

Meetup_Logo_2015

There’s no denying the Ancestral Health community has exploded over the past 5 years. I see this in my own personal life, in that 5 of our friends have adapted some form of Paleo lifestyle, and in the explosion of Paleo blogs, cookbooks, food products, restaurants etc. It’s certainly much easier than it was 5 years ago to find like-minded people to share recipes, tips, hacks, and anecdotes with, and there’s no doubt the internet has played a hugely vital part of this. The term ‘fad’ diet is obviously bandied about quite regularly in the mainstream media, including the NHS Choices website, and for some, it will be a fad (no carbs before Marbs), and a short term fix for a quick loss of weight. However, for those of us who are in it for the long-haul, are well aware of the benefits of ancestral health, and have fully embraced all elements of a Paleo lifestyle, it is a way of life for us, and ‘fad’ never comes into it. While the internet is fantastic at bringing us together online (Twitter’s #paleohour for example), sometimes it’s much better to discuss this in person. In the UK, outside of London, this is quite hard to find (we certainly haven’t found anything), so we decided to start our own! Meetup.com, for those who are unfamiliar, allows you to search for groups suited to your hobbies, interests etc in the area you live in. Our first Paleo Meetup is this Sunday, 28th June, at Little Amsterdam in Banbury (see my blog post about their grain-free pancakes!) Everyone is welcome, and there are more details here. We have also planned a second Meetup on Sunday 26th July at Paleo Restaurant in Leamington Spa. If you’re in the area, we would love you to come. There is definitely scope in the future for branching further afield should enough people require it, so if you’re interested, please come along!

An Ever-Evolving Movement

ReEvolve

As is probably inevitable with most new blogs, I have decided to expand my focus. Due to the broad nature of the ‘Grain-Free Grazing’ umbrella, my blog entries/recommendations will include not only restaurants, cafes and eating establishments, but also anywhere/thing I experience that the title ‘Grain Free Grazing’ lends itself too. My ‘Where to Buy’ and ‘My Favourite Staples’ pages already go further than reviews of places to eat, but recent experiences and upcoming events have led me to want to write more extensively on certain subjects. I feel this is important for the future/development/expansion of knowledge of the Paleo movement, and while I am realistic that this blog by no means reaches as far as I would like, I want to provide my followers with as much information as possible with regard to where to find good quality meats and vegetables, while at the same time meeting up with like-minded, non-judgemental folk who we can all learn something from. I hope you like it!

Burgers that bare all

BareBurger

Location – NY, CT, NJ, PA, OH and coming soon to CA
Type of Establishment – Burger Restaurant
Serving – Lunch and Dinner
Level of Paleo – Paleo-catered
Price – ££

Spoiled by the choices of burger chains in the UK serving options adapted to Paleo, we were pleased to find BareBurger as a suitable stateside version. They pride themselves on serving free-range, pastured raised meats that are hormone, antibiotic and gluten free. A fantastic start. Add to that the choice of beef, chicken, duck, wild boar, bison and elk, and you’re onto a winner. With some careful selections and sensible omissions, this is the ideal place to eat with a group of people with differing requirements. Opt to construct your own burger, and you can choose your meat, add cheese if you want to, wrap it in a collard green, add veggies and spreads (all gf) and choose from a vast array of gluten free sides if you wish. They do have a disclaimer stating gluten free products may be fried in the same oil, but I have it on good authority from a New Yorker that depending on the individual location they may fry separately at their discretion. If in doubt, avoid the fried foods. This is easy to do due to the abundance of combinations, and the menu stating their organic products is a god-send for making informed choices. The addition of extras and sides obviously inflates the price, but again remember its dollars not pounds. I have a feeling we’ll be going again before we leave!

Update: We went again yesterday, to a different location in the Wall Street area, which was a much more casual affair, with no menus (you just chose from the wall and ordered at the counter) and there was additional items to add on compared to the other place. Seems like each location does its own thing, which is cool.