If you’re new to a paleo diet, check out Paleo 101 to read the 15 simple guidelines of the Paleo diet lifestyle and kick start your paleo journey.
The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet andhunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. In common usage, such terms as the “Paleolithic diet” also refer to the actual ancestral human diet.
The Paleo Dinner recipes are commonly available modern foods, the “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.
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- 395 pages
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This is not your average cook book. During my first glance through Sébastien’s phenomenal new cooking guide I was blown away by the shear volume of helpful cooking information it contains. This isn’t just a collection of delicious paleo recipes (of which it contains well over 300!), it’s also an indispensable guide on how to master the preparation of various complicated dishes.
Want to know how to cook the perfect steak? Check. Make your own homemade stock? Check. Curious about lacto-fermenting foods? Check. That doesn’t even begin to crack the surface. The 8 week meal plan will help any paleo newbie stick to a healthy eating plan, while the comprehensive herb and spice guide will start you on your way to becoming a wiz in the kitchen.
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- David Csonka of Naturally Engineered
Paleolithic hunting and gathering peoples ate primarily meat, fish, shellfish, leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts and insects in varying proportions. However, there is little direct evidence of the relative proportions of plant and animal foods.Although the term “paleolithic diet”, without references to a specific timeframe or locale, is sometimes used with an implication that most humans shared a certain diet during the entire era, that is not entirely accurate. The Paleolithic was an extended period of time, during which multiple technological advances were made, many of which had impact on human dietary structure. For example, it is almost undisputed (with only a few scholars adopting the divergent view) that, for much of the Paleolithic, humans did not possess the control of fire, or tools necessary to engage in extensive fishing. On the other hand, both these technologies are generally agreed to have been widely available to humans by the end of the Paleolithic (consequently, allowing humans in some regions of the planet to rely heavily on fishing and hunting). In addition, the Paleolithic involved a substantial geographical expansion of human populations. During the Lower Paleolithic, ancestors of modern humans are thought to have been constrained to Africa east of the Great Rift Valley. During the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, humans greatly expanded their area of settlement, reaching ecosystems as diverse as New Guinea and Alaska, and adapting their diets to whatever local resources available.
According to some anthropologists and advocates of the modern Paleolithic diet, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers consumed a significant amount of meat and possibly obtained most of their food from hunting. Competing hypotheses suggest that Paleolithic humans may have consumed a plant-based diet in general, or that hunting and gathering possibly contributed equally to their diet. One hypothesis is that carbohydrate tubers (plant underground storage organs) may have been eaten in high amounts by pre-agricultural humans. The relative proportions of plant and animal foods in the diets of Paleolithic peoples probably varied between regions, with more meat being necessary in colder regions (which weren’t populated by anatomically modern humans till 30,000-50,000 BP). It is generally agreed that many modern hunting and fishing tools, such as fish hooks, nets, bows, and poisons, weren’t introduced until the Upper Paleolithic and possibly even Neolithic. The only hunting tools widely available to humans during any significant part of the Paleolithic period were hand-held spears and harpoons. There’s evidence of Paleolithic people killing and eating seals and elands as far as 100,000 years BP. On the other hand, buffalo bones found in African caves from the same period are typically of very young or very old individuals, and there’s no evidence that pigs, elephants or rhinos were hunted by humans at the time.
Overall, Paleolithic peoples experienced less famine and malnutrition than the Neolithic farming tribes that followed them. This was partly because Paleolithic hunter-gatherers had access to a wider variety of plants and other foods, which allowed them a more nutritious diet and a decreased risk of famine. Many of the famines experienced by Neolithic (and some modern) farmers were caused or amplified by their dependence on a small number of crops. The greater amount of meat obtained by hunting big game animals in Paleolithic diets than in Mesolithic and Neolithic diets may have also allowed Paleolithic Hunter-gatherers to enjoy a more nutritious diet than both Epipaleolithic/Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and Neolithic agriculturalists. It is also unlikely that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were affected by modern diseases of affluence and extended life such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease andcerebrovascular disease, because they ate mostly lean meats and plants and frequently engaged in intense physical activity, and because the average lifespan was shorter than the age of common-onset of these conditions.
Large-seeded legumes were part of the human diet long before the Neolithic agricultural revolution, as evident from archaeobotanical finds from the Mousterian layers of Kebara Cave, in Israel. Moreover, recent evidence indicates that humans processed and consumed wild cereal grains as far back as 23,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic. However, seeds, such as grains and beans, were rarely eaten and never in large quantities on a daily basis. Recent archeological evidence also indicates that winemaking may have originated in the Paleolithic, when early humans drank the juice of naturally fermented wild grapes from animal-skin pouches. Paleolithic humans consumed animal organ meats, including the livers, kidneys and brains. Upper Paleolithic cultures appear to have had significant knowledge about plants and herbs and may have, albeit very rarely, practiced rudimentary forms of horticulture. In particular, bananas andtubers may have been cultivated as early as 25,000 BP in southeast Asia. Late Upper Paleolithic societies also appear to have occasionally practiced pastoralism and animal husbandry, presumably for dietary reasons. For instance, some European late Upper Paleolithic cultures domesticated and raised reindeer, presumably for their meat or milk, as early as 14,000 BP. Humans also probably consumed hallucinogenic plants during the Paleolithic period. The Australian Aborigines have been consuming a variety of native animal and plant foods, called bushfood, for an estimated 60,000 years, since the Middle Paleolithic.
Large game animals such as deer were an important source of protein in Middle and Upper Paleolithic diets.
People during the Middle Paleolithic, such as the Neanderthals and Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens in Africa, began to catch shellfish for food as revealed by shellfish cooking in Neanderthal sites in Italy about 110,000 years ago and Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens sites at Pinnacle Point, in Africa around 164,000 BP. Although fishing only became common during the Upper Paleolithic, fish have been part of human diets long before the dawn of the Upper Paleolithic and have certainly been consumed by humans since at least the Middle Paleolithic. For example, the Middle Paleolithic Homo sapiens in the region now occupied by the Democratic Republic of the Congo hunted large 6-foot (1.8 m)-long catfish with specialized barbed fishing points as early as 90,000 years ago. The invention of fishing allowed some Upper Paleolithic and later hunter-gatherer societies to become sedentary or semi-nomadic, which altered their social structures. Example societies are the Lepenski Vir as well as some contemporary hunter-gatherers such as the Tlingit. In some instances (at least the Tlingit) they developed social stratification, slavery and complex social structures such as chiefdoms.
Anthropologists such as Tim White suggest that cannibalism was common in human societies prior to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, based on the large amount of “butchered human” bones found in Neanderthal and other Lower/Middle Paleolithic sites. Cannibalism in the Lower and Middle Paleolithic may have occurred because of food shortages. However, it may have been for religious reasons, and would coincide with the development of religious practices thought to have occurred during the Upper Paleolithic. Nonetheless, it remains possible that Paleolithic societies never practiced cannibalism, and that the damage to recovered human bones was either the result of ritual post-mortem bone cleaning or predation by carnivores such as saber tooth cats, lions and hyenas.
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