Dining out paleo: Ten dishes to satisfy your inner caveman

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Kate Gibbons
Shine's house-smoked trout.
The "caveman diet" is getting a real workout across Colorado. The creation of Loren Cordain, a Colorado State University professor who wrote The Paleo Diet and numerous follow-up books, the diet has been picked up by the Crossfit community and many other fans of healthy eating. But while it promises weight loss, lower blood pressure, less risk of cardiovascular disease and increased athletic performance, the diet doesn't promise that it's easy to follow outside of your own kitchen. The high-protein diet focuses on consuming foods that could be hunted and gathered during the Paleolithic era: grass-fed meat, fish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables and fruit. Since dairy, grains, sugar, legumes, potatoes and processed oils are no-nos, dining out can be challenging even if a chef is willing to accommodate a gluten-free, veggies-instead-of-rice and no-cheese, please, order.

Because there is a little caveman in all of us, here's a list of list of ten perfectly paleo dishes that don't require any substitutes or swaps.

See also:
- Comedian/restaurateur Will White on his paleo-diet truck, Kickstarter and standup

- Paleo diet study wins a Centennial teen $2,000
- A food critic cuts out the trash in her diet to right junk in the trunk

10. House-Smoked Trout
Shine

One of the more popular items on Shine's brunch menu, house-smoked trout (pictured above) is the work of executive chef Jessica Emich, a paleo eater herself. A filet of Idaho trout joins a crispy yam mash, seared greens and housemade avocado Hollandaise: Emich swaps out eggs and butter for lemon juice and olive oil with a touch of Tabasco sauce. And Shine has more than one paleo dish to offer: 75 percent of the menu is hunter- and gatherer-friendly.

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Photo courtesy of Slotted Spoon.
9. Wicked Salad
Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery

Pork meatballs top a bed of mixed greens, peppers, pesto sauce and slaw. The meatballs are made fresh daily with ground pork, gluten-free breadcrumbs, onion, fennel, basil and salt and pepper. The homemade slaw combines cabbage, cucumber, lemon juice and ranch seasoning for a tangy kick. The Wicked is also available with salmon meatballs.

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Photo courtesy of Colt & Gray.
8. Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Colt & Gray

Colt & Gray flies in its duck foie gras from the Hudson Valley, sears it with an XO sauce of smoked oysters and ginger, watercress and almonds, and serves it with sliced rhubarb. While foie gras is always on the menu here, this version was updated a few weeks ago with a menu revamp.

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Photo courtesy of Old Major's Facebook page.
7. Nose to Tail Plate
Old Major

The Butcher section of the Old Major menu includes the nose to tail plate, a caveman's delight with confit pork rib, pork chop, crispy belly, city ham and a crispy ear marinated in guanciale vinaigrette and rhubarb jus. This is the full animal experience.

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Photo courtesy of Choppers Custom Salad's Facebook page.
6. The Big Shrimp
Choppers Custom Salad

Choppers its known for it custom salads, and has a plethora of paleo ingredients that you can mix and match. But the chef's choice Big Shrimp works with the diet, too. A bed of romaine lettuce is topped with shrimp, cucumber, tomatoes and avocado, then chopped and tossed with housemade cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

Location Info

Map

Shine

2027 13th St., Boulder, CO

Category: Music

Slotted Spoon Meatball Eatery

2730 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Colt & Gray

1553 Platte St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Old Major

3316 Tejon St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Choppers Custom Salads

1765 Blake St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Caveman Cafeteria

, Denver / Boulder, CO

Category: Restaurant

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

1 W. Flatiron Circle, Broomfield, CO

Category: Restaurant

Corner House - CLOSED

2240 Clay St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

Eden - CLOSED

3090 Downing St., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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20 comments
Chelly Serna
Chelly Serna

I love how Denver is so accepting of dietary restrictions. :)

Dan Brown
Dan Brown

To each their own, but choosing to remove cheese from your diet without a gun being put to your head sounds crazy to me.

Jon_S
Jon_S

I'm intrigued to learn from this list that our Paleolithic ancestors were out hunting confit pork ribs while gathering Tabasco sauce and ranch seasoning. I also had no idea they were able to find cold water fish like trout and salmon in the same areas as coconuts. But what's a little internal contradiction when you have books to sell? God I hate these BS fad diets.

Dev Adams
Dev Adams

I love being paleo/primal, but eating out can be difficult. Thanks for the tips!

Kyndra Gardner
Kyndra Gardner

Food for thought; You might want to correctly spell the name of the person you're selling as the "creator" of the Paleo diet, Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and site him correctly, as he's not just a professor.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

Chinook Tavern was also doing a paleo dish of the day for a while; not sure if they still do it. Last time I was there, I had an excellent grilled salmon with carrot puree and asparagus all cooked with coconut oil.  

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Dan Brown I agree - dairy products like butter, unsweetened yogurt and cheese make me happy. The main reason dairy is on the restricted list of paleo foods is because many people are lactose intolerant and the claim is that the human body didn't evolve to process dairy products. There are others though who suggest that if you aren't lactose intolerant, you should be fine including dairy in your diet. And as someone who advocates tolerance, I'm in favor of equal rights for cheese.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Jon_S Paleo  - or any other way of eating - definitely becomes a BS fad diet when people do it just to lose a few pounds before that wedding or beach vacation. It also can seem like a fad when a specific way of eating gains media attention and more people start trying it. And certainly, there will be a large number of people who try it and then quit, so the popularity rises and falls. 

None of this means that there isn't some scientific evidence behind many paleo theories. Forget all the caveman stuff and the fad dieters and the propaganda websites and just ask yourself a few questions:

- Where does your current knowledge of healthy eating come from?
- Are Americans actually getting healthier following the diet recommended by the government?
- Do you think there's anything actually unhealthy about just leaving grains and sugar out of a diet? (Forget the who carbs thing. There are carbs in all of those vegetables and many of the sauces in the dishes listed.)

kyndra1
kyndra1

@Jon_SIt's not a reenactment. Eating food, real food, in a modern world, where the ingredients come from plants and animals rather than a factory or lab is what it's about.  If you want a BS fad diet, eating Paleo is not it.  Do your research, friend.

LetThemEatHake
LetThemEatHake

@Kyndra Gardner Food for thought: when leaving a snarky comment assailing a writer, you might want to avoid grammar mistakes. "Site" is a noun. I believe the word you intended to use is "cite",  as in "I will now cite a scientific study correlating low-carbohydrate diets with reduced brain function." 

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666308005515

Cordrain has degrees in the quasi-medical fields of Health Sciences and Exercise Physiology. This makes him overqualified to bag my groceries, but dramatically underqualified to comment on the scientific merits of diet or nutrition. 

Jon_S
Jon_S

@Mantonat @Jon_S As far as information regarding nutrition, there are mountains and mountains of research that indicate whole grains and legumes are healthy and should be part of the human diet. As an example of just a few reliable sources include places like the Harvard School of Public Health (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/health-gains-from-whole-grains/) and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State (http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/legumes/). These places employ multiple experts in varying fields that review many scientific studies in order to come up with dietary recommendations. There is scant evidence that eliminating foods forbidden in a Paleo diet yields any health benefits.

I think the very problem with fad diets like Paleo is that they have some level of good thinking and science behind them (fresh fruits and veggies, fewer refined carbs), but wrap it in a BS philosophy and sets of senseless rigid rules (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, lots of animal protein). All fad diets are focused on deprivation and lists of "thou shalt nots" rather than the positives of healthy eating. Plenty of people lost some weight on Atkins 5 or 10 years ago. How many are still on Atkins now, and how many have reverted to unhealthy eating habits because they only abided by the diets rules instead of adopting a truly healthy philosophy towards food? 

They never actually learned about eating a healthy, unprocessed, varied diet. They simply followed the rigid dogma written in a book they read. Once they break to rules because it is too hard, they revert right back to eating processed crap because they think the benefits of the diet were due to depriving themselves of forbidden items, rather than changing to fresh, whole foods.

Jon_S
Jon_S

@kyndra1 @Jon_S I've done my research. Paleo is 100% a BS fad, just like Atkins, and Scarsdale and all the others before it, and it will burn out in a couple years just like every other fad. If your diet has a name and came from a book with no evidence backing it up, it's a fad.

Eating fresh foods is great. It's almost exclusively what I eat. However, eliminating perfectly healthy plant-based foods like whole grains and legumes from your diet because some dude wrote a book with absolutely no science behind it is dumb.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@LetThemEatHake According to the abstract, subjects only performed poorly on memory-based tasks "during complete withdrawal of dietary carbohydrate," and in fact "low-carbohydrate dieters reported less confusion (POMS) and responded faster during an attention vigilance task (CPT) than ADA dieters." Considering that even strict paleo proponents wouldn't recommend complete withdrawal of carbohydrates, I think our brains are safe.

In either case, the human body is capable of manufacturing the glucose needed by the nervous system (including the brain) in a process known as gluconeogenesis, where amino acids or fatty acids are converted to glucose.

Mantonat
Mantonat topcommenter

@Jon_S @Mantonat If we're going to talk about rigid diets, how about all the government suggestions over the years that eggs are bad, butter is bad, red meat is bad, animal fats are bad, coconut oil is bad, cholesterol is bad, etc. 

In terms of paleo being a "high protein" diet, this is not really true. Although reducing carbs (especially empty carbohydrates and simple sugars) is a goal of the diet, it really varies depending on the individual. If you're more active or in training, increasing carbohydrate consumption is not a bad idea. The difference is made up in upping fat consumption (of specific types of fat).

I agree with you that some advocates of paleo go way overboard trying to justify their choices with speculation about ancestral diets and behavior. But, many of the people who have had long-term success on this type of diet are neither rigid nor restrictive. Most recommend balance, a sense of play, minimizing the importance of the scale and obsession with weight, enjoying the outdoors, improving sleep habits, and the importance of natural movements instead of artificial environments like gyms. The one thing they all seem to agree on is that wheat is one of the worst things you can eat. And I've read plenty of peer-reviewed academic studies that indicate that modern industrially produced grains do in fact negatively impact health. I just think its funny that people can advocate giving up all kinds of different foods, but for some reason wheat is sacred and anyone who doesn't eat it must be crazy or poorly informed. But whatever - I eat most of my meals at home and I've come to realize that all the good food we put on, between, or into wheat products just taste much better when not diluted with wheat. I still can crush a good bowl of ramen or a torta with joy, but these have become the exception rather than the norm. I feel good.

Jon_S
Jon_S

@kyndra1 @Jon_S Yes Kyndra, I definitely suck at this "research" you are so good at. You sent two links from paleo diet promotion sites (one with no citations whatsoever) and one from an acupuncturist that promotes his own paleo diet book! Great research skills there, Kyndra! Next can you send me a link about how I won the Nigerian lottery? I'm sure you'll find something legit. LOL

kyndra1
kyndra1

@Jon_S There's not just one "dude" who wrote a book.  The fact that you keep insisting that ONE person is responsible for this "fad" diet is preposterous.  No evidence? No science?

http://chriskresser.com/rhr-what-science-really-says-about-the-paleo-diet-with-mat-lalonde

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/what-is-wrong-with-grains/

http://www.eat-real-food-paleodietitian.com/Paleo-diet-reasons-to-avoid-grains.html

Lectins,
Phytates, Alpha-amylase inhibitors and protease inhibitors are not good for you. You find them in grains. Grains are a poor source of bioavailable nutrients compared to meat, seafood, vegetables and fruits. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/341.full.pdf
 

Do your research. Or, if what you are doing to learn about the Paleo lifestyle is what you call research, research the word research. Because you suck at it.

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