The Paleo Diet is one of the latest diet trends today, and it revolves around the idea of eating foods similar to what our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic period, with a focus on lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables and seafood.
The goal is to "normalize" your system and return to a diet that is congruent with your genetic ancestry. By doing so, you can avoid the many diseases that come with eating high-sugar processed foods sold these days.
While the Paleo Diet can be a healthy way of eating, I believe that it focuses too much on protein intake. Too much protein can stimulate your mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway, which can increase your risk of cancer.
In addition, excessive protein intake makes your kidneys work harder in removing excess nitrogen waste products from your blood, which can lead to dehydration.
Ideally, your protein intake should only be one-half gram per pound of lean body mass, or around 40 to 70 grams of protein a day. If you are athletic or physically active, you can add 25 percent more than that.
This recipe, Carrot Cake Protein Balls, from health and fitness expert Chris Freytag of Get Healthy U is what I believe to be a good interpretation of the Paleo Diet. It contains a wide variety of ingredients, from vegetables to nuts to spices.
Not only is the recipe packed with just the right amount of protein, it also offers you a good serving of healthy fat, courtesy of the walnuts. You can enjoy these protein balls as a snack or as a post-workout protein boost.
Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes
- 2 cups shredded carrot
- 12 medjool dates
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons ginger root, peeled and minced
- 8 tablespoons (8 servings) collagen powder
- 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Shredded coconut for rolling
Optional: dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs, melted, for drizzling
- Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Chill the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes until it reaches a batter-like consistency, or until stiff enough to form into balls.
- Use your hands to form the mixture into 16 even-sized balls.
- Roll the balls in a shallow bowl of coconut shavings.
- Drizzle with melted dark chocolate (optional).
- Store in an airtight container in the freezer.
- Enjoy two at a time.
Carrots: The Core of the Cake
Carrots have been around for centuries and are used in different cuisines around the world. They're a great addition to stews, salads or as side dishes. Surprisingly, they work well in cakes too, like in this recipe.
One of the most prominent benefits of carrots is their abundance in beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A when digested. In turn, vitamin A can help develop good eyesight. I recommend that you include carrots in your meals regularly, as our body cannot produce beta-carotene and must be obtained from your diet.
Carrots also contain generous amounts of phosphorus, which is essential for softening your skin, while at the same time, hardening your teeth, hair and bones.
Carrots may have strong potential anti-cancer benefits as well, as proposed in one study. Researchers investigated the effects of beta-carotene on myeloid and lymphoid leukemia cells, and found out that the bioactive chemicals in carrot juice extracts were able to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the cancer cells.1
Grass-Fed Collagen Is Good for Your Skin
Collagen is one of the most abundant types of protein in your body, comprising 30 percent your total protein amount. Your body has the ability to produce its own collagen, but it can be taken in supplement form, which is normally sold in two kinds.
The first one is hydrolyzed collagen, which come in tablets or capsules. The second one is powdered collagen, which can be used in cooking.2 You may be surprised to know that it's actually the ingredient used to make marshmallows puffy.3
Collagen can help combat the signs of skin aging. In one study, 57 middle-aged women took collagen peptides regularly for eight weeks. By the end of the trial period, their facial wrinkles were reduced by 20 percent.4 It may also help reduce joint pain as suggested in a study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion. Athletes who participated in the study experienced a reduction in joint pain after taking collagen daily for 24 weeks.5
When sourcing for collagen, be sure to purchase products made from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals to ensure that you're not ingesting any potentially harmful substances.
Dates Are a Good Source of Dietary Fiber
Dates were introduced to America in the 1700s by Spanish missionaries. These plants usually bear fruit within three to five years of planting and fully mature within 12 years.
This humble fruit offers notable benefits, first of which is dietary fiber. It can help move waste through your intestines easier, while helping prevent the absorption of bad cholesterol by binding with cancer-causing substances. Dates also contain potassium, which can help control your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as iron, an important component of hemoglobin in your red blood cells.
Walnuts Provide Plant-Based Omega-3 Fat
Walnuts are an amazing source of omega-3 fat. Just a quarter-cup of them can already provide more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value for plant-based omega-3.
Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), the unique omega-3 fat found in walnuts, has a strong potential for helping combat inflammation and the formation of pathological blood clots, and may even help improve your cardiovascular health. In one study, researchers concluded that a diet high in ALA can lower your risk of developing a fatal heart attack and reduce your chances of sudden cardiac death by 50 percent.6
Cinnamon and Nutmeg: Spices That Bring Flavor and Health Benefits
Spices can add a lot of flavor and aroma to your food, and this recipe makes use of not just one, but two of the most popular spices in the culinary world.
- Cinnamon is known for its warm, soothing fragrance while adding a slightly spicy punch to your food. In terms of health benefits, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon can already provide 22 percent of the daily recommended value for manganese, a mineral essential for optimal health.
Manganese can help in the formation of strong bones, connective tissues and sex hormones and even coagulate the blood properly. It may even benefit your digestive system, as manganese can help metabolize fat and carbohydrates and manage your blood sugar levels as well.
- Nutmeg, on the other hand, is a flavor enhancer that can provide warmth and complexity to your food. It has a high amount of manganese similar to cinnamon, but it has antioxidants, such as myristicin and elemicin, that give you unique health benefits.
Both of these compounds contain properties that can soothe and stimulate selected areas in your brain. Nutmeg also contains eugenol, an antioxidant that, when used topically, can help relieve joint and muscular pain, as well as toothaches.
Note: Be sure to consume these Protein Balls in moderation, as the dates and raisins may contain high levels of fructose that can be potentially harmful to your health.
About the Author:
Chris Freytag is a health and fitness expert, blogger, author and motivational speaker. She has been teaching fitness classes and personal training for over 20 years, and is also the founder of Get Healthy U and Get Healthy U TV, a digital publishing company specializing in fitness, food and healthy living space. Visit Chris' website for more fitness tips and healthy recipes.
Sources and References
Tags: Fruits and Vegetables, Raw