Chipotle Mexican Grill was the first major fast food chain to point out which food items on its menu contained Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) back in 2013.
This week Chipotle announced that all the cooked food it serves at its 1,800+ restaurants is GMO-free.
However, the company also stated that some soft drinks sold at Chipotle may still contain sweeteners made from genetically-engineered corn. Also noteworthy is some of the meat Chipotle serves may come from animals fed GMO-enhanced grains – but on the plus side, most of the restaurants now serve 100% grass-fed beef.
Chipotle says it used to cook with soy oil and canola oil – both made from GMO crops – but today Chipotle uses only GMO-free sunflower oil and rice bran oil in its kitchens.
Opinions vary on whether consuming GMO products are harmful or much ado about nothing. The Food and Drug Administration has officially labeled a number of genetically modified crops as safe for human consumption, while opponents say GMOs cause problems for the environment and may be hazardous to human health.
According to Chipotle, more than 80% of all processed foods in the US include some genetically modified ingredients, especially products derived from corn or soy. The biggest offenders include: soft drinks, fast food, cereals, breads and sandwich meats, packaged foods and snack foods.
Chipotle says it seeks out the highest-quality food sources, eliminating many large-scale industrial farms from its supply chain. The company prefers sourcing its meat and produce from smaller farmers who share the company’s values for humanely-raised animals and GMO-free crops.
Consumers who care about the quality of their fast food have made Chipotle the fastest growing fast food restaurant chain in the US over the last 10 years. But the company’s quality policy may now be hindering its growth – many of its restaurants have temporarily stopped serving carnitas (made from pork) due to a major supplier’s failure to meet the company’s high quality standards.
How to eat paleo at Chipotle:
Order the salad instead of a burrito, choose your favorite meat, add on the sautéed veggies, and pile on the salsa and guacamole. You’ll of course want to skip the rice, beans, sour cream, cheese and salad dressing if you’re following a strict paleo diet.
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If you’re new to paleo, you may be wondering why I’m constantly reaching for high-fat coconut or olive oil to cook with instead of a “healthy” bottle of canola oil with the cute red heart on the label… Read more →
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Paleo Meal-Building: Here’s How To Make It Deliciously Simple!
So you’re thinking about giving the paleo diet try. You’re certain you’ve got the willpower to kick refined sugars and grains to the curb. But…there’s just this one little thing keeping you from making the leap – paleo sounds like a heck of a lot of work!
If that’s what’s holding you back, you’re not alone. I hear it from Paleo Newbie website visitors all the time…and it’s one of the big reasons why most of my Paleo Newbie recipes are super-simple.
But I’m going to be honest with you here: Yes, it does take a little more time and effort to eat paleo.
Now here’s the good news – putting together a simple and tasty paleo meal is not nearly as difficult as you might think.
Sure, you can’t just toss any old pre-packaged meal into the microwave or pull into a fast food drive-through on your way home if you’re paleo.
But there is a very simple formula you can use to quickly figure out all your paleo-approved meals…
The 4 Ridiculously Simple Steps to Successful Paleo Meal Building:
1. CHOOSE A PROTEIN
What sounds good to you right now: eggs, chicken, beef, seafood, pork?
You’ve got lots of choices here and already know what you like.
Just go for the highest quality protein you can find/afford – naturally raised and minimally processed.
If you’re concerned about portions, the protein on your plate should be about the size of your fist – more if you’re really active.
2. PICK 1-2 VEGETABLES
OK, maybe a little tougher choice here because with paleo you should skip the white potatoes, rice, beans and peas.
But once again, there must be at least a few veggies you like on the paleo A-list.
How about sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, all leafy greens, carrots, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, squash, bok choy, onions, beets…and the list goes on.
A good rule of thumb is to choose one green vegetable, and you can make your second one more starchy if you like. But if one of your paleo goals is to lose weight, take it easy on the root and tuber veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes.
If you just can’t come up with a second vegetable, go with some fruit instead.
Avocados are actually a fruit and offer lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Other good paleo fruit choices are any kind of berries, and cherries, melons, peaches or apricots. Once again, if you’re trying to drop some pounds, avoid the fruits with higher sugar content such as apples, mango, pineapple, grapes, pears, bananas and dried fruit like dates and figs. That said, any fruit is still better than a bag of chips as a side dish.
And as far as portions, you ideally want your two vegetables (or veggie and fruit) to be about the size of two fists on your plate. Again, dish up more if your physical activity demands it – or if you’re just really hungry today.
3. SELECT A HEALTHY FAT
Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat – that’s usually the handiwork of too many carbohydrates and not enough exercise.
Fat actually helps keep your energy levels up, makes you feel satisfied longer after a meal, plus it supports body fat reduction.
So for your paleo meal building, choose a healthy fat to enjoy along with your meal.
Some good fat examples include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow and full-fat coconut milk. No refined vegetable oils including margarine, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and flaxseed oil please!
Cook with it, drizzle it on your veggies, make a salad dressing out of it, or you can even put a spoonful of coconut oil in your morning coffee.
4. ADD HERBS AND SPICES
As wise as your choices have been so far, your paleo meal is going to be a little bland without some tasty seasonings to liven things up.
As far as I know, all pure herbs and spices are paleo approved – and no, a shaker of sugar and cinnamon is not a spice.
So go ahead and load up your meal with wonderful flavors.
Some of my paleo kitchen must-haves include garlic, onion powder, chili powder, chipotle, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground pepper, parsley, dill, mint, chives, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, oregano, nutmeg, basil, ground mustard and cumin.
This simple, four-step formula will always help you create a well-balanced and perfectly paleo meal – whether you’re following someone’s recipe or winging it on your own.
Just remember: 1) Protein; 2) Veggies/Fruit; 3) Fats, and 4) Flavor – paleo meals are easier than you thought, right?
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It’s Not Rocket Science…Get Started On Your New Paleo Lifestyle Right Now!
New to paleo and anxious to get going? Awesome! Here’s a simple, no-frills, quickstart guide to the paleo basics. If you could care less about the details and just want to jump right in, this will get you off to a flying start!
Stop eating processed foods of any kind. The same goes for grains, beans, dairy, refined sugars, soy or industrial vegetable oils. Ideally, eliminate alcoholic beverages. Coffee gets a pass for paleo – hold the cream and sugar. TIP: Clean out your pantry, refrigerator and cupboards of all of the above. Donate unopened packages to your local food bank, or toss them in the trash.
Start eating wholesome, unprocessed, real foods. These can include meats and poultry (preferably grass-fed/organic certified), eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Cook with healthy oils such as olive oil and coconut oil. Substitute ghee for margarine/butter. Remember to eliminate legumes (beans), white potatoes, corn, rice, peanuts and of course wheat/gluten from your diet. TIP: Check out some of my easy recipes for delicious, wholesome meals. Start out with the simplest ones. I strongly urge you to skip past the “Treats” recipes if you’re just getting started.
Go grocery shopping. Keep in mind paleo is an investment in your health and longevity. Eating higher quality food may mean you have to spend a little more at the supermarket. Hit the store with a list and buy only what you need. TIP:Avoid the center aisles of the grocery store and shop the perimeter. On a tight budget? Do what I do and skip unnecessary luxuries like your morning lattes and put what you save toward your paleo shopping trips.
Paleo is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. Commit to it for the long haul if you decide it’s right for you. (You should know that after giving yourself at least 30 days (more if necessary) to get into the Paleo groove.) TIP:I personally recommend starting your first 30 days eating only paleo-approved foods and meals, and NO treats – even if they’re paleo-friendly.
Exercise! TIP:Any physical activity from high-intensity interval training to weight lifting is good. CrossFit is popular with paleo peeps, but any exercise that gets you moving and your heart rate up will help increase your body’s metabolism and energy levels.
Get plenty of sleep. Most studies indicate between 7.5 – 8 hours of quality sleep each night is what you need to fully rejuvenate your body and mind for the next day. TIP:Do not ignore this step…the benefits of good sleep are amazing.
Get regular exposure to sunlight. It’s the best source of vitamin D for your body. TIP:Obviously, don’t overdo this. Adjust the time for you skin type and seasonal sun intensity. Fifteen minutes per day is a good general recommendation for most people.
Don’t freak out if you mess up and eat something that’s not paleo.TIP:Seriously, you’re attempting a lifestyle that may be radically different than your normal routine. Chances are you will slip up. Well so what, you’re human! Just shake it off and get back on track. Paleo can reverse years of poor eating and lifestyle habits…stick with it and you will soon start seeing the rewards!
Out on an early morning hike in the foothills of Phoenix, Arizona.
“But I’m Italian…this paleo thing will kill me!”
My hubby swears that’s what I said when he first suggested we give the paleo diet a try 2 years ago.
I’m sure those weren’t my exact words.
But I do remember not being all that thrilled about giving up my breads and pastas to eat like a what, a caveman? Seriously?
Eventually, I came around. In fact, the more I learned the more excited I got about ditching the processed junk and fully committing to eating healthy, real food.
My biggest fear starting the paleo diet? Lunch!
I pictured noon rolling around without a slice of bread to make a simple sandwich.
Panic would surely ensue on a daily basis. What was I going to do?
Well the things I did to wiggle around the lunch “challenge” when I first switched to paleo are pretty funny – but I’ll save that for another post.
The point is, I not only survived when I first started the paleo diet, I thrived.
Back then I had some digestive issues, and they quickly disappeared eating paleo. Allergies too – reactions became few and far between. Overall I felt good, really good. More energy. Better sleep. This paleo thing was working for me.
I know how fortunate I am. I didn’t come to paleo desperate to lose weight or get relief from something like Chron’s or celiac disease. Many people do look to paleo for help with far more serious problems than an occasional upset tummy and the sniffles. If you’re one of those, God bless you. I really believe eating paleo can help you – a lot of people have told me it’s done wonders for them.
So when I first took up paleo 2 years ago my motivation was simple – live a healthier lifestyle and try to figure out some decent paleo meals to cook. Nothing earth-shaking about that.
So the man who suggested we try paleo suddenly has another brilliant idea: I should start a blog!
Well natch, isn’t that what everyone does in the digital age? Thanks for that hubby. There was only one little problem…I didn’t have anything really exciting to share with the world.
Except, maybe…paleo recipes.
The blog’s first logo. The hairy little guy was as clueless as I was when I first switched to paleo.
I had searched paleo sites at the time looking for simple recipes. I found some that were pretty good, but I almost always changed them up – something I had always done with non-paleo recipes in the past.
Maybe I was too picky – or just like all of you, wanted recipes with the flavors and textures I was used to. Old favorites made paleo-syle!
So I decided, why not just create my own paleo recipes?
But they had to be simple. The bacon this paleo girl brought home was a paycheck from a medical job, so I didn’t want paleo cooking to take up too much of my exercise and relaxation time.
I started out with meals I already knew how to cook, and worked at turning those paleo.
When your repertoire is mainly Italian dishes, that’s no easy trick.
Early food photography: We thought a point-n-shoot camera, a bright desk lamp, and of course a daffodil, was about all you needed to take good pictures. Fortunately, we got a little better.
I should state for the record I’m not a classically-trained chef or anything close to it. Just an amateur cook and a professional mom who knows her way around a kitchen thanks to tons of experience feeding a family of four. I know a lot of you can relate to that.
Cooking has always been a passion, and I guess I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. But, I’m not expecting it to win any James Beard awards. Just the appreciation of my family and friends (and now my new paleo pals) has always been reward enough for me.
So anyway, after a couple of months of paleo, I officially took the plunge into the online world – newly christened as Paleo Newbie.
Three years and hundreds of paleo recipes later, I’m still “Paleo Newbie”
My hubby did warn me I’d quickly outgrow my blog’s name. Why not, he asked when first setting up a little 3-page website for me, something more aspirational, motivating, memorable — a blog title that would cut through the online clutter with its creativity and cleverness.
So yeah, I just stuck with plain old Paleo Newbie.
It was perfect when I first started paleo, and I’m sticking by it now.
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