Cooking Primal Cuisine with Chef Pauli Halstead

Pauli_Halstead_600April 16, 2013. Today we enjoyed taping and tasting a Peak Moment show with Pauli Halstead, author of Primal Cuisine: Cooking for the Paleo Diet.

We met Pauli last fall 2012 at my talk on our ketogenic diet, Celebrating a Lighter, Leaner Janaia. Later she invited us to watch In Search of the Perfect Human Diet, an excellent film documenting one man’s search among archeologists, researchers, and doctors using nutrition for healing — coming to the conclusion that the low carbohydrate paleo diet is what the human body evolved on and still needs.

Pauli also lent us Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine and Luke Shanahan and Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet by Nora Gedgaudas. We’re reading them aloud. Both are primo. We hope to tape these authors for Peak Health Moment TV (Peak Health, anyone?).

Pauli’s a retired chef who, after running a catering business in Napa Valley for several decades, started writing a cookbook titled Cuisine for Whole Health. In 2009 her cookbook took a different turn after Pauli started working with Nora Gedgaudas.

Pauli shared her personal story of recovering from a lifetime of depression and sugar addiction by removing gluten and sugar from her diet. After a bumpy few months, the depression lifted — and has not returned. She glowed in the telling: such a joy to have that lifestime shadow lifted, not through prescription drugs, but right nutrition. I thought, why not start with the right food fundaments for everyone experiencing anxiety and depression, rather than drugging them?

Pauli starts her book with concise and selective information about what the paleo/primal diet is. We talked about:

  • How the primal/paleo diet is what our ancestors evolved eating — especially high quality animal-based fats
  • What foods are eliminated? All grains (glutens), processed foods, and vegetable oils like canola, added sugars, GMOs, factory-farmed animal products. (Pauli also limits cow dairy because many people have casein sensitivities).
  • Choosing to sustain the body with animal products that sustain the earth — grassfed, pasteurized, humanely raised animals, and wild caught seafood.

Pauli showed a cornucopia of healthy fats like olive and coconut oils, avocados, pastured dairy butter and nut butters. She demonstrated how easy it is to make ghee (clarified butter), which can tolerate high temperature cooking.

And then — oh yum, she assembled one of her favorite recipes, Magical Muhamara. From Syria, it’s a hummus dip made from walnuts rather than starchy garbanzo beans. Spiced with roasted red peppers and cumin and a magic ingredient, pomegranate molasses. You’ll wish videos could be tasted!

Pauli’s cookbook is rightly titled “cuisine.” It’s not simply a cookbook. She draws on traditional foods and flavors from around the globe. Each dish is lifted out of the ordinary by distinctive spices, herbs, and condiments. And beautifully arranged: they’re a feast for the eyes, too.

But cooking these recipes isn’t going to take hours in the kitchen. Pauli quipped that if she couldn’t put a dinner together in 20 minutes, it was too complex. I can confirm that’s true, at least with the the two dishes I’ve made so far: Salmon Nicoise salad in 35 minutes. An artsy company dish with nuanced flavors and beautiful colors. My mom loved it.

Look forward to two lively, informative, tasty programs: Gourmet Cooking for the Paleo Diet (part 1) -  Meet the Chef and (part 2) – In Pauli’s Kitchen.

Touch in with “Paleo Pauli” at [www.facebook.com/PrimalCuisineCookingForThePaleoDiet]

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About Janaia

Janaia Donaldson is the host and producer of Peak Moment TV. She has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, and educator; and a user interface designer at Xerox.
Robin Mallgren is the director, videographer, and editor of Peak Moment TV. After completing a Ph.D. in computer science, she worked as a software development engineer at Xerox.

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