Everyone is raving about the paleo diet. But what is the paleo diet? Eating paleo is what we have been doing all along, so I’m thinking we might as well take advantage of the publicity making it sound like some big new thing. So, how do you eat paleo? That would be lots of meat, fish and vegetables without someone dangling sugary donuts, white bread and cheesecake in front of you.
As seen by the prevalence of diabetes, and other food-related illnesses, the contemporary American diet is killing us. Eating paleo is eating the way our ancestors have always eaten—pure, natural food without all the additives and chemicals that are harmful to us. As I tried to understand the paleo concept better, someone said to me, “don’t overthink it,” which is good advice.
Back in the day, when we were living in teepees, wigwams and hogans, each day usually began with a pot (whether it be clay or trade cast iron) of water being boiled. Things were added as they came along, no recipes needed. The Native cooks of the day were creative and inventive. They still are though they have to wade through “enhanced” products, like GMO’s, vying for attention.
Most of us just want to cook and eat good, healthy food that isn’t too fussy. A good place to start is with a stew. While beef is good, bison is better because of its heart healthy, grass-fed nature. Buffalo is even recommended for heart patients who are told to avoid beef.
2 pounds of buffalo meat, cut in 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 quarts beef or buffalo stock
1 large onion
10 cloves of garlic, minced
4 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
4 stalks of celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 pounds of yams or butternut squash
1 cup of red wine
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and minced
4 bay leaves
½ teaspoon each: dried rosemary, thyme, paprika, sea salt and black pepper
¼ cup coconut oil
Use a heavy stock pot over medium heat to brown the meat and garlic in the coconut oil. Then add the vegetables and a little more oil, stir to mix and add wine, tomato and spices/herbs. Stir until covered.
Add the stock, cover and simmer for at least an hour, then adjust seasonings to taste. Continue on simmering for two to four more hours. Check on it and stir a couple of times.
2 fresh peaches, chilled and cut up
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 banana, sliced
* Sprinkle with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey
Please note: Before the Europeans came American Indians had NO milk, NO sugar, NO alcohol. They were strong and could run 25 miles on a handful of parched corn.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.