The other day I was in Kmart walking past the book section. I saw a bloke pick up a Pete Evans cookbook, flip carelessly through the pages, then turn to his friend and state “Yeah lets go eat some grass, haha”. He put the book back on the shelves and walked away with the proud swagger of someone who has just made a mockery of one of our most well known chefs, and of course, an advocate of the Paleo diet.
Initially I was somewhat amused by the irony of someone walking through the lowest priced department store in Australia whilst seeking to ridicule one of our most financially successful and well known chefs (and don’t get me wrong – I love Kmart!). However, the situation also left me with a feeling of disappointment at how the Paleo diet is so poorly understood and why its advocates receive so much criticism.
Pete Evans is an interesting point in fact. Australians are well aware of his message, partly for reasons which are controversial (lets not delve too much into the “bone broth for babies” incident), but also because he has graced our screens for a number of years on one of our most watched cooking reality shows. He has used that television show as a platform to not only grow his brand and business, but to also spread the word about Paleo and healthy eating. And for the one or two controversial messages that are now associated with his name, there are many more which he shares that are both positive and beneficial for our health and our way of life. After all – that is what Paleo is about.
Paleo gives us the tools to bring our lives back to basics. It is a nutrionally based approach to eating foods which most resemble their original form, including lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats from nuts and seeds, as well as herbs and spices. It also entails the removal of foods which (arguably) our bodies aren’t designed for, including refined and processed foods, sugars, alcohol, grains and dairy. Some people see the removal of that latter food groups as a deal breaker. I see the inclusion of the former as a life changer.
But when you think about many of our classic recipes, Paleo is everywhere. It’s truly not that difficult to find good recipes that include wholefood products based on meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (and I might also include natural sweeteners) without resorting to eating “grass”. The best way to convince you of this – a good old fashioned casserole!
Casseroles are not only the perfect winter food, but they can also be Paleo! They are filled with good meat, vegies, healthy fats from good quality oils, some herbs and spices. They require very little in the way of grains, gluten or sugar and those which are required can easily be included using Paleo alternatives. They are the perfect way to fill a gap while providing us with the nutrition our bodies need to survive.
Personally, I LOVE a good casserole and I’ve always been partial to the good old beef and red wine. As I am not currently drinking alcohol, I tried the recipe with an organic grape juice instead and it worked a treat! The thick quality of the juice created a perfect base sauce for the meat and veg, developing a gorgeous rich flavour that, I dare say, might even be better than red wine! If you’d prefer the classic version though, simply replace the juice with your choice of a good quality red. Allow the casserole to slow cook in the oven for a couple of hours and you’re on a winner!
Why not give it a go and see how easy Paleo can be! Post a pic of your casserole or let me know how you found the recipe below! Happy eating!
Beef and 'Red Wine' CasserolePrint This
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 2 kg gravy beef, chuck beef or beef cheeks, cubed
- Quinoa flour, buckwheat flour or plain flour to coat
- 1 large brown onion, chopped roughly
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into thick slices
- 3 cups organic grape juice
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar-like
- 2 x 400g cans organic tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 tbs dried oregano
- 200g white button mushrooms, halved
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 170°C or 340°F
Coat beef cubes with flour of your choice.
Place a heavy based casserole dish on the stove top and heat half the olive oil. Brown the floured beef in batches and set aside.
Heat remaining oil. Cook onion and carrot until softened, stirring frequently. Return beef to the dish with juice, vinegar, tomato, tomato paste, sugar, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and place in the oven for 2 hours or until beef is tender.
Serve with mashed potato or quinoa.
Recipe can easily be adapted to suit your needs. For a gluten-free option, choose quinoa flour to coat beef. For a grain-free option, choose buckwheat flour. I tend to use coconut sugar in my cooking these days as it has a slightly higher nutritional value than brown sugar, however feel free to use what you prefer! Try not to ditch the sugar as this will bring out the flavour of the tomato. Also - if you would prefer a more traditional red wine casserole, simply replace the grape juice for red-wine of your choice!