First there was the Atkins Diet and the war on carbs. If you’re health-conscious or on a perpetual diet, chances are you’ve dabbled in everything from vegetarianism to low fat to gluten-free and raw foodist.
But to loose weight and clear up physical ailments for good, Falmouth chef Elizabeth Miles says we need to go back to what we ate as cavemen.
The so-called “Paleo” diet reverts to the basic foods that were available when humans were little more than hunter-gatherers, albeit with some twists to suit our modern and convenience-driven lifestyle.
So while all processed foods, cultivated grains and sugar are out, meats and fish, vegetables and fruit and nuts and seeds are the closest thing to a natural human diet, Miles says.
To find out more about what’s cooking in the White Lion kitchen, visit www.whitelionbakingco.com
“This is the food our bodies are meant to be eating. Everything is from the earth,” she says, pointing to links between the nation’s obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemics and diets heavy in processed foods.
You are what you eat
While the science may be debated, Miles is living proof of the benefits of eating closer to the land. Two years ago, she heard about the Paleo diet while working out at CrossFit Cape Cod in Mashpee Commons.
Switching to the high-protein, low-carb and no sugar diet, combined with several workouts per week, helped Miles shed a stubborn 25 pounds that she had been trying to lose since the birth of her son.
A friend, she said, lost 140 pounds and no longer suffers from symptoms of diabetes since committing to the Paleo diet and regular workouts. Similar benefits have been found in people with high cholesterol or high glucose, Celiac or Crohn’s disease.
But as a professional baker and chef, Miles had a hard time reconciling her newfound nutritional discovery with her cooking savvy.
“Almond meal is high protein and low carb, but it’s not flour,” she said. “Everything depends a lot more on temperature. My son had to eat a lot of mistakes before I figured out how to make [Paleo] raisin cookies.”
Sweet (and savory) rewards
One of the biggest challenges Miles and other Paleo adherents face what to eat in social settings.
“It gets really old to go to a wine and cheese event and not have a cracker. You need the occasional treat,” she said.
Luckily, coming up with Paleo-friendly snack recipes was not difficult for the Culinary Institute of America graduate. Miles’ first attempt, a Paleo brownie, earned so many rave reviews that even her non-Paleo friends encouraged her to sell the gooey treat.
Researching Paleo baked goods online, Miles stumbled upon the White Lion Baking Company, a Brookline-based company catering to people on a gluten-free or low-glycemic index diet
Offering a full line of crackers, cookies and breads baked with grass-fed butter, unscented coconut oil, almond flour and honey, Miles became hooked.
Then, the company went up for sale. Fulfilling a long-term dream, Miles bought the brand in May 2012 and got her home kitchen certified by the Falmouth health department.
A bite of goodness
After just four months in business, Miles, who also works as a private chef, has hired two assistants to help bake, pack and ship orders.
Using the same recipes cultivated by the company’s original owners, Miles bakes everything from bread rolls to cinnamon rolls fresh to order. Driven by online business, she has overnighted hamburger buns across the country and fills regular orders for her carrot cake or “Paleo power muffin” baking mix.
For vegan or lactose-free customers, or those with allergies, Miles says the company can adapt recipes to meet specific needs. Local customers are welcome to come to her Woods Hole Road kitchen to pick up orders, saving on shipping costs, she said.
“These products give you variety. If you’re missing bread or crackers or want a celebration cake, you’ll still feel good eating them,” she said.
Biting into a freshly-baked olive bread roll, the goodness is apparent. Flavored with Kalamata olives and rosemary, the moist and chewy bread is made with almond flour, unscented coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and eggs. Due to their constitution, Miles recommends freezing the rolls and thawing them one at a time.
From melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon raisin cookies to savory cheddar cheese crackers, you don’t have to be a Paleo dieter to enjoy these tasty delights.
Nor is it necessary to live in a cave.