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Eat like a caveman, even when out of dinosaur

“Munga, munga. Gingu.”
Or so the caveman would have said thousands of years ago as he foraged and hunted his way to a presumably healthy table and I imagine that by “table” I mean rock.
Yes, I am referring to the Paleo Diet, a newly popularized food fashion in a very long line of dietary devices.
The Atkins diet, Tom Venuto’s “Burn the Fat,” Feed the Muscle, high-carb/high-intensity cardio, endurance regimens, Insanity, P90X and even Richard Simmons are all presumably “right” in helping one to attain leanness and meanness.
The choice of diets is as staggering as one’s choice of world religion among the thousands out there, but that is for another conversation altogether.
No, for now I just want to investigate and learn about all things Paleo. A local gym owner peaked my curiosity today and as an old friend of mine had talked to me about it at length at one point, I figured I could at the very least check it out for myself.
To be “Paleo,” and this is authoritatively delivered after a solid three hours of experience and intense study, a partaker on the menu plan merely eats what a caveman would have been able to gather to put on the table.
Now, don’t think for a second that you will go hungry. No one has to actually forage, although to be uber-serious about the process one must aggressively seek out the organic and local farmers.
Another caveat I am assuming exists in Paleo is that we do not need to starve for the five months a year that local crops aren’t plentiful.
I did notice that on the topic of saturated fats from plants (i.e. coconut and palm oil) that different authorities on the subject had vastly varying opinions on them. One makes coconut a very large part of his meal plan, and another has labeled it verboten. Interestingly, both sources have plenty of scientific papers and research handy to back up their unique claims.
On yet another topic that is dear to my heart, heavy cream to be exact, it was made perfectly clear that it is not Paleo as the cavemen were not agriculturalists; they liked to kill stuff and pick berries.
Scratch that. Rewind. Now this source is telling me that dairy is perfectly acceptable on the Paleo Diet.
My brain hurts.
Now, for the universally accepted bad part: no legumes, no fast food, no soda, no refined sugars, nothing with a label and no bread. No bread? Whoa, wait a minute.
I love bread. I love pizza. This is the same stuff that Dr. Atkins had us believing when we lived in Baltimore, for God’s sake.
I just don’t know what to make of this. Like any other meal plan, there are many, many versions and I guess that if I want to do this, I need to pick and choose as logic sees fit.
The last thing I did today was sit down to a box of Nutty Bars as a last hurrah. The Nutty Bars won.
At least I can practice making the food interesting. In reality, there are many more things available on the Paleo Diet than restricted.

Quail and Roasted Oysters
makes 2 servings
2 quail, boneless
6 oysters, shucked
olive oil, as needed
1 garlic clove, minced
fresh thyme, Italian parsley and rosemary, as needed
1/2 shallot, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
No- or low-sodium chicken stock
Roasted rutabaga (recipe follows)
Cauliflower Puree (recipe follows)
• Wash and pat quails dry
• Have the oysters at the ready and set up your grill with some wood chunks if you don’t have a smoker
• Make garlic oil out of the olive oil, garlic, shallot, herbs and seasonings by heating them in a saucepan until warmed through and the garlic has lost some of its volatile heat
• Dab the oysters and quail with the oil and seasonings and grill, but here’s a nice trick: place a small pile of dry hickory chips next to the food and place a pan on top to make an impromptu smoker/wood grill. If you have a wood grill already, this step is superfluous
• Smoke the tomatoes in a metal pan on the grill and add to the juices of the quail
• Serve your proteins on the roasted rutabaga and cauliflower puree

Roasted Rutabaga
8 ounces rutabaga, peeled and diced
Chicken stock
fresh herbs, minced (thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley)
Olive oil as needed
salt and pepper as needed
• Use only enough stock as needed to cover the rutabaga
• Bring the stock to a simmer and add the rutabaga
• Cook until just barely tender and strain the stock. Do not save unless you savor that “rutabaga essence”
• Toss the rutabaga in the herbs, oil and seasoning
• Roast in a 400-degree oven until browned and serve

Cauliflower Puree
8 ounces fresh cauliflower, cut into small pieces
2 ounces coconut milk
2 ounces heavy cream (or 4 ounces coconut milk total)
—1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 shallot, minced
salt and pepper as needed
• Place all ingredients except for the salt and pepper in a sauce pan with a lid
• Bring to a simmer and cook only until tender
• Mash with a potato masher or immersion blender until smooth
• Season and serve