Cave Dweller Muffins – A Paleo Breakfast

Paleo, aka eating the caveman diet, is one of the latest diet buzz words. Popularized by Dr. Loren Cordain from Colorado State University, paleolithic eating is said to be the diet to which we are most genetically adapted. Free of grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods and most sweeteners, the paleo diet is higher in protein and lower in carbs. Proponents say it helps with weight loss, reduces risk of diet related diseases, slows the progression of autoimmune disorders and improves athletic performance.

More out of need than desire, I began following a more cave dweller type diet a few years ago. After rapid onset of an illness it became quite apparent that I had developed food sensitivities. After testing with Mediator Release Testing I discovered that many grains, legumes, dairy products and other seemingly healthy foods were no longer at the base of my food pyramid. As my interest in paleo concepts increased, so did my repertoire for cooking paleo dishes.

Eating paleo is clean and simple in theory, yet not so simple in the modern world. While I found relief from nagging symptoms by eating more paleo-like, it’s hard in the modern world. Work-related meetings are fraught with donuts and deli sandwiches. Family gatherings include traditional favorites that are outside the bounds of paleo. Friends and family don’t quite get my affinity for meat and aversion to grains, especially considering I was once a vegetarian. I find that I am very “ishy” when it comes to paleo, meaning I have cut back or eliminated many things but my diet is paleo-ish rather than one of strict adherence.

The great nutrition debate, which ranges from strict vegan to strict paleo, centers around whether or not a particular diet meets one’s nutritional needs. Are grains, dairy and legumes necessary for healthy living? The answer to that question depends on where you get your information and how mindfully you plan your diet. It’s hard to argue that a diet lower in unhealthy carbs, high in fresh produce and moderate amounts of lean meats (especially grass fed) and fish isn’t healthy. The medical community is starting to change its tune on the praises of grains and high carb diets in light of the vast numbers of people with diabetes and gluten intolerance. Some studies are showing that cultures that have high consumption of dairy products actually have more osteoporosis rather than less.

One thing that never changes in the field of nutrition is the confusion about what is healthy. Are carbs good or bad? Is dairy good or bad? Is soy in or out? Are beef and eggs OK or are they the bane of humanity? As a dietitian I can tell you I don’t have the answer to all of those questions because the information seems to change rapidly. What I can say that what is right for one person may not be right for another. When I was forced to change my diet, so too did my thinking about healthy diets. The cognitive shift that occurred made me realize that there is no one right answer at this point in time. Neither paleo nor vegetarian is right for me. My life is not about extremes in any area, but more about leanings with what works for me. My ishy approach to paleo is working for now. At 51 years old my doctors are awe struck that I take no medications and my weight is stable. Will I stay paleo? I can’t answer that because as an ishy person I reserve the right to change my mind.

One of the things I have always loved for breakfast is muffins but they went by the wayside when I gave up many grains. And even though I loved eating them, truth is they did not sustain me until lunch because I made high carb/high fiber, low fat muffins. My current muffin addiction is satisfied by a paleo version that is higher in fat, but lower in carbs. One muffin is satisfying and there is no need to snack between meals. 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dreid cranberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 apple, grated
  • Zest and juice from 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine almond flour, salt and next 5 ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and remaining ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until moist. Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake 25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins

Mary Beth George, MEd, RD/LD, LPC

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