Tag Archives: foraging

5 Paleo Experiences to Let the Good Times Roll | The Paleo Diet

Wouldn’t you enjoy taking it easy once in awhile? Our fast-paced, adrenalized modern lifestyle is mismatched with our Stone Age genes.1  Eating and moving like a hunter-gatherer are fundamental changes to support our physiology. However, there are additional ways to optimize our gene expression2 and mitigate the ill effects on constantly being on the go in modern times.

Spring and summer are the perfect time to embrace these ideals. Remember what it felt like when you were a child? For me it was sleeping late, spending all day outdoors barefoot, coming home covered in dirt, and enjoying endless amounts of juicy watermelon and tomatoes. Return to simpler times and engage in new experiences to fully support your Paleo diet lifestyle.


It’s the ideal time of year to focus on gathering seasonally available and locally sourced foods. Steer clear of plastic wrapped produce that has traveled for days after harvest and seek opportunities to reconnect with food production. Gather your Paleo bounty from a local farmers’ market, your own garden, or via foraging for edibles. Once you experience a fresh salad harvested from your land (or even a planting container) and taste sun-kissed tart berries you’ll understand the difference.3


Chances are the last thing you do each night is watch TV, check email, or use an app on your phone. Blue-blocking glasses might help reduce some of the exposures to modern lights, but don’t reduce the impact of always being connected to technology.  Literally unplug from unnatural light sources and camp out this summer, even if you only go as far as your own backyard. You’ll notice an overall improvement to your sleep patterns, as just one week of being exposed only to natural light synchronizes the internal circadian clock to match solar time.4


Do you love your Manolos as much as I do? Sadly, high heels and “sensible” footwear cause more harm than good.5 Research supports that we have evolved to run barefoot, 6 to feel the ground when moving,7 and our feet function best, even while standing, when barefoot.8 It might be too dangerous to walk around urban areas without shoes. However, you can minimize the amount of time you are in shoes each day. Rest your bare feet in the grass at a park or adopt the Hawaiian tradition (brought by Japanese immigrants) of removing your shoes before you enter a home.


Our success as a species has been derived from social structures based on networks, culture and cooperation.9 Hunter-gatherers formed complex social networks out of necessity to trade food resources and other goods,10 to provide social ties, and also to connect marriage partners.11 We have evolved, to the detriment of the quality of our relationships,12 to connect via technology rather than around the campfire.13 Make a plan to meet friends in person for a hike, a game of Frisbee, or a barbecue with your favorite Paleo recipes.


Compared to hunter-gathers, who were able to rest for long periods and recover from stressful situations like being chased by a lion, modern man is under chronic stress. The toxic effects of exposure to both physical and psychological stress can lead to many health problems, such as immune suppression, increases in coronary heart disease, and accelerates the aging process. 14,15,16,17The longer, sunnier days of summer provide the perfect opportunity to relax.  Take naps, read in a hammock, and seek out activities that give you pleasure.

Tell us, what changes will you make this summer to connect with your Paleo diet lifestyle?



[1] Riggs, Jack E. “Stone-age genes and modern lifestyle: evolutionary mismatch or differential survival bias.” Journal of clinical epidemiology 46.11 (1993): 1289-1291.

[2] O’Keefe, James H., et al. “Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases 53.6 (2011): 471-479.

[3] Heim, Stephanie, et al. “Can a community-based intervention improve the home food environment? Parental perspectives of the influence of the delicious and nutritious garden.” Journal of nutrition education and behavior 43.2 (2011): 130-134.

[4] Wright, Kenneth P., et al. “Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle.” Current Biology 23.16 (2013): 1554-1558.

[5] Menz, Hylton B., and Meg E. Morris. “Footwear characteristics and foot problems in older people.” Gerontology 51.5 (2004): 346-351.

[6] Lieberman, Daniel E. “What we can learn about running from barefoot running: an evolutionary medical perspective.” Exercise and sport sciences reviews 40.2 (2012): 63-72.

[7] Nigg, Benno. “Biomechanical considerations on barefoot movement and barefoot shoe concepts.” Footwear Science 1.2 (2009): 73-79.

[8] Cavanagh, Peter R., and Mary M. Rodgers. “Pressure distribution under symptom-free feet during barefoot standing.” Foot & Ankle International 7.5 (1987): 262-278.

[9] Hill, Kim R., et al. “Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure.” Science 331.6022 (2011): 1286-1289

[10] Hamilton, Marcus J., et al. “The complex structure of hunter–gatherer social networks.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274.1622 (2007): 2195-2203

[11] Stewart, J. H. 1938 Basin-plateau aboriginal sociopolitical groups. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.

[12] Cummings, Jonathon N., Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut. “The quality of online social relationships.” Communications of the ACM 45.7 (2002): 103-108.

[13] Chou, Hui-Tzu Grace, and Nicholas Edge. ““They are happier and having better lives than I am”: the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives.”Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 15.2 (2012): 117-121.

[14] Levine, Robert V., et al. “The Type A city: Coronary heart disease and the pace of life.” Journal of behavioral medicine 12.6 (1989): 509-524.

[15] Levine, Robert V., and Ara Norenzayan. “The pace of life in 31 countries.”Journal of cross-cultural psychology 30.2 (1999): 178-205.

[16] Cleland, Verity, et al. “A prospective examination of children’s time spent outdoors, objectively measured physical activity and overweight.” International journal of obesity 32.11 (2008): 1685-1693.

[17] Simon, Naomi M., et al. “Telomere shortening and mood disorders: preliminary support for a chronic stress model of accelerated aging.” Biological psychiatry60.5 (2006): 432-435.

Spring Forward Foraging Wild Greens

Hunter-gatherers foraged for seasonally available foods and with the spring season came an abundance of fresh, wild greens. Many wild greens like shotweed and dandelions are commonly considered weeds, and are neither desired nor used by modern man. Albeit, while these greens are bitter compared to commercially available vegetables,1 the variety and nutritional content in our diets have become limited2 through our reliance on grocery stores to source food for us.3

Spring is the perfect time of year to embrace the nutrient density these wild foods offer. Edible wild greens like quercetin4 are rich in phenols and antioxidants,5 provide significant alpha-linolenic acid,6 and contain high levels of bioavailable forms of minerals, like iron.7 Even in urban areas it is easy to experiment with foraged greens, and once you are armed with a basic education of how to prepare them, you can reclaim your foraging roots while also broadening your culinary prowess.

Stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, is a wild green that can be found alongside blackberry bramble, rivers, streams, or on cultivated farmland during early spring. Nettles are high in tannic acid, chlorophyll, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and vitamins A, D, K, C and B complex. 89 Nettles, prized as a natural health remedy for many ailments 10,11,12,13,14 are highly versatile and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for leafy greens, such as kale, chard, or spinach.

As their name implies, they will actually sting if not handled properly. This natural defense mechanism keeps most animals and insects away, thus preserving the plant from being eaten. However, we can avoid this consequence by wearing long sleeves and thick work gloves.  The underside of each leaf is covered with hairs that contain a stinging liquid,15 which includes formic acid, histamine, acetylcholine and 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin)16 and it will leave a burning sensation on skin. If you are inadvertently stung, look for either jewelweed or dockweed leaves, which both frequently grow alongside the nettles. Crush the leaves to expose the juices and apply them against your skin.

Many farmers’ markets also offer seasonally foraged foods, including nettles. Care must be taken to deactivate the stinging liquid before eating. Simply heating the nettles, either through blanching or sautéing deactivates the stinging potential, rendering them completely safe to eat.

Stinging nettles can be transformed into Paleo pesto, hearty soups, as a filling for chicken breasts or boneless legs of lamb. This simple sauté highlights the fresh flavor of the nettles and makes a great vegetable side dish for any meal, such as alongside roasted meat.


Serves 2


    • ½ lb (8 oz) fresh nettle leaves
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 tspn of avocado or olive oil
    • ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes (adjust up or down to taste)


Spring Forward Foraging Wild Greens
1. Using thick garden or kitchen gloves blanch the raw nettles in boiling water until wilted (about 1-2 minutes). 2. Strain and squeeze them dry.
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[1] Leonti, Marco, et al. “Wild gathered food plants in the European Mediterranean: a comparative analysis.” Economic Botany 60.2 (2006): 130-142.

[2] Marshall, Fiona. “Agriculture and use of wild and weedy greens by thePiik AP Oom okiek of Kenya.” Economic Botany 55.1 (2001): 32-46.

[3] Heath, Anne-Louise M., and Susan J. Fairweather-Tait. “Clinical implications of changes in the modern diet: iron intake, absorption and status.” Best Practice & Research Clinical Haematology 15.2 (2002): 225-241.

[4] Trichopoulou, A., et al. “Nutritional composition and flavonoid content of edible wild greens and green pies: a potential rich source of antioxidant nutrients in the Mediterranean diet.” Food Chemistry 70.3 (2000): 319-323.

[5] Gülçin, Ilhami, et al. “Antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiulcer and analgesic activities of nettle (Urtica dioica L.).” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 90.2 (2004): 205-215.

[6] Guil-Guerrero, J. L., M. M. Rebolloso-Fuentes, and ME Torija Isasa. “Fatty acids and carotenoids from Stinging Nettle (Urticadioica L.).” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 16.2 (2003): 111-119.

[7] Konieczyński, P., and M. Wesołowski. “Determination of zinc, iron, nitrogen and phosphorus in several botanical species of medicinal plants.” Pol. J. Environ. Stud 16.5 (2007): 785.

[8] Konieczyński, P., and M. Wesołowski. “Determination of zinc, iron, nitrogen and phosphorus in several botanical species of medicinal plants.” Pol. J. Environ. Stud 16.5 (2007): 785.

[9] Hojnik, Maša, Mojca Škerget, and Željko Knez. “Isolation of chlorophylls from stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.).” Separation and Purification Technology 57.1 (2007): 37-46.

[10] Chrubasik S, Enderlein W, Bauer R, and Grabner W. Evidence for antirheumatic effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine 1997;4(2):105-108.

[11] Dathe G and Schmid H. [Phytotherapy of the benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Double-blind study with an extract of Radicus Urticae (ERU)]. Urologe B 1987;27:223-226.

[12] Edgcumbe, D. P. and McAuley, D. Hypoglycaemia related to ingestion of a herbal remedy. Eur.J.Emerg.Med. 2008;15(4):236-237.

[13] Namazi, N., Esfanjani, A. T., Heshmati, J., and Bahrami, A. The effect of hydro alcoholic Nettle (Urtica dioica) extracts on insulin sensitivity and some inflammatory indicators in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized double-blind control trial. Pak.J.Biol.Sci. 8-1-2011;14(15):775-779.

[14] Randall, C., Dickens, A., White, A., Sanders, H., Fox, M., and Campbell, J. Nettle sting for chronic knee pain: a randomised controlled pilot study. Complement Ther.Med. 2008;16(2):66-72

[15] Oliver, F., et al. “Contact urticaria due to the common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)—histological, ultrastructural and pharmacological studies.” Clinical and experimental dermatology 16.1 (1991): 1-7.

[16] Collier, H. O. J., and G. B. Chesher. “IDENTIFICATION OF 5‐HYDROXYTRYPTAMINE IN THE STING OF THE NETTLE (URTICA DIOICA).”British journal of pharmacology and chemotherapy 11.2 (1956): 186-189.

Chestnut Parsnip Soup | The Paleo Diet

As we move deeper into autumn, seasonal foods like chestnuts become more and more prevalent, not only at your local markets, but also, depending where you live, at local parks and forests. What could be more Paleo than actually going into nature and foraging for your own wild food like our hunter-gatherer ancestors?

Sweet chestnut trees are easy to identify by their broad, slender leaves with serrated edges. The outer shells around the nuts are spikey, resembling little green hedgehogs. Horse chestnuts, on the other hand, have short, stumpy spines and more rounded leaves.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The best time to go foraging for chestnuts is early in the morning after a stormy night. Storms and strong winds bring chestnuts to the ground and your early morning arrival means you’ll beat the squirrels to the punch. To remove the chestnuts from their spiky outer shells, simply roll them under your shoe, applying moderate pressure.

Of course, this recipe works just as well if you prefer “foraging” at your local supermarket or farmers market. You can use fresh chestnuts or precooked, vacuum packed chestnuts.

You can cook the chestnuts in one of two ways—roasting, which lends more fragrance and nuttiness, or boiling. In either case, you’ll need to cut slits on each chestnut beforehand, an absolutely essential step to cook them properly. For oven roasting, these slits serve as steam vents. If you don’t make the slits, the chestnuts can become mini bombs, exploding inside your oven and potentially outside, after you remove them. Trust us, this is not a clean up job.


  • 25 chestnuts
  • 2 parsnips
  • 1 leek
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1in piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Freshly milled black pepper


If using vacuum packed chestnuts, skip steps 1 – 3.

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Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.
Nutritional Grail

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.

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