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Eat your vegetables.

And fruit.

And meat — but only the kind that's grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free or wild.

That's the nutrition message of local paleo diet enthusiast Dr. Eric Kuyper, a Rapid City chiropractor who believes the benefits of a grain-free diet are worth the challenges.

A paleo lifestyle is about eating whole, unprocessed foods that the human body is genetically programmed to eat, Kuyper says to people who attend the Paleo Diet class he teaches through Community Education of the Black Hills.

"Our bodies are designed to eat meat," he says, with apologies to any vegetarians in the audience. Humans have incisor teeth for cutting meat, hydrochloric acid in their stomachs for dissolving it and a long intestinal tract for digesting it.

Humans evolved as hunters and gatherers, which means our ancestors, and the modern bodies we inherited from them, thrived on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whatever animal protein they could catch or kill. That's why the paleo diet is also called primal eating or even the "caveman" diet.

Today's Standard American Diet — whose acronym, Kuyper is quick to point out, spells SAD — is filled with things that early humans never ate, at least not before the invention of agriculture. Bread, even whole wheat bread, is not a "whole" food. It's been processed, he points out, since you'll never find a tree or plant with slices of bread growing from it.

Paleo promoters believe that sugar, dairy, grains and refined foods of all kinds cause obesity and inflammation in humans. That inflammation is at the root of many of today's modern maladies: cancer, heart disease and intestinal diseases like Crohn's or autoimmune diseases like arthritis, according to Paleo researchers such as Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson.

"Eighty percent of all diseases are lifestyle and diet related," Kuyper said. 

But Kuyper knows that eliminating bread, pasta and other grains — even oatmeal and other nutritious whole grains — is difficult for most people. 

Going paleo is a process, Kuyper admits, and it is a challenging one for most people, including himself and his family. Unlike many paleo diet experts, he suggests transitioning to it.

"It's a process that's hard for the average American to do," he said.

For people who want to try paleo, he recommends  adding, not subtracting, things from your menus at first. "Begin by adding more fruits and vegetables to every meal instead of eliminating things," he said. "Start by adding beneficial foods and supplements in, rather than focusing on removing the unhealthy foods. We don't need the added stress of giving up our favorite "SAD" foods right away," he tells the class.

Other transition tips include:

  • Increase the amount of water you drink
  • Drink vegetable juice from a juicer
  • Switch to grass-fed, hormone-free meats
  • Eat 5 small meals a day, not three large ones
  • Take recommended supplements
In the next phase:
  • Eliminate dairy
  • Limit grains to 1 small serving a day
  • No added salt, sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • Eliminate trans fats or hydrogenated fats
Kuyper has been eating a paleo diet for several years, but he still keeps a "cheat" day in his schedule. His wife, Tye, and their children also eat mainly, but not strictly, paleo. Kuyper's favorite "recipes" involve lots of raw vegetables and fruits turned into drinkable meals in his juicer or Vita-Mix blender, and family dinners are typically free-range chicken and vegetables or grass-fed beef with vegetables, like the recipe for Seasoned Steak and Vegetable Medley below.
On Sundays, if he's craving desserts or other non-paleo carbohydrates, he indulges in them.
Eating a paleo diet may pose obstacles, but finding plenty of paleo-friendly recipes no longer does, thanks to the proliferation of paleo websites, including: marksdailyapple.com and primalpalate.com

Seasoned Steak

4 thick cut steaks, grass-fed

Brush steaks with olive oil and top each with this seasoning mixture:

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon dill weed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

splash of balsamic vinegar

Broil or grill steaks for about 10 minutes on each side or to desired doneness.

Vegetable Medley

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2 large onions, sliced

3 cups assorted fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 bunch asparagus, cut in halves

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add the onion, mushrooms and asparagus. Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Cook on low until veggies are as soft as you like them.

This recipe is a great way to use collard greens. The original meatless, vegetarian recipe contains hummus and is from Battle Creek Gardens, a community-supported agriculture farm in Hermosa.

Collard Green Wraps

1 collard green, per serving

red pepper, julienned

carrot, shredded

onion, yellow or red, sliced into half-moons

red cabbage, shredded

avocado, sliced

alfalfa sprouts

cooked chicken, tuna or other protein of choice

Wash greens well. Trim the stem even with the base of leaf. Fold leaf in half with the stem facing out. Shave the stem off so that it is flush with the leaf, being careful not to cut entirely through the stem or leaf.

Place fillings onto the leaf, filling on one side of the middle vein. Fold sides of leaf in and roll away from you. Cut in half and enjoy.

Contact Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or mary.garrigan@rapidcityjournal.com

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