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I took up paleo eating about six months ago on a doctor's recommendation that it would help with certain health issues.
The changes in diet came gradually and mostly because we are surrounded by such "bad" food choices everywhere we go especially when eating out.
Many people have jumped on the paleo bandwagon and it is a growing movement. Basically it is about eating a more natural diet including grass fed meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables and seeds and berries.
Some things I bought at the Paleo Cafe which can otherwise be hard to find
There are so many recipes out there that it has also become quite a gourmet way of eating. There is no sense of going without.
The benefits include weight loss, more energy, reduced allergies, stable blood sugar and anti- inflammatory properties. Possibly one of the reasons that the movement has been so widespread is the recognition that something had to give. While people live longer, there is also a lot more ill-health in terms of lifestyle diseases and our kids seem to suffer from a rising tide of allergies.
In the restaurant world there have been quite a few moves towards this type of eating, with increasing emphasis placed on gluten free dishes and even organic produce.
But until now, at least to my knowledge, there haven't been any strictly paleo places to eat.
The founders of the Paleo Cafe, Jai and Marlies Hobbs, found out about paleo after their four month old baby had severe acid reflux, which was later diagnosed as a dairy intolerance. When they changed his formula away from dairy, he went from screaming infant terrible to placid babe and it made them realise the affects of food on our bodies.
Image Paleo Cafe Facebook
They started their business last year in Cairns, but due to its incredible popularity and a flood of requests they started franchising their business only six months after opening.
Already there are paleo cafes in Sydney, Brisbane and one just opened a few weeks ago on the Mornington Peninsula.
I travelled down to the Mornington to see what all the fuss was about.
I arrived at about 1.30pm (which is slightly late for lunch) expecting to walk straight in and get a seat.
I was lucky to get one about 20 minutes later as people were clearly enjoying their food and were in no rush to move away. While I waited about ten other people came in and when they saw they wouldn't be able to get a seat, they bought wholesome take-aways.
Paleo Cafe Facebook - this was Paddington but Mornington was also this crowded
I had kind of hoped they would do an all day breakfast as some of the dishes sounded amazing, such as breakfast parfait (layers of coconut yoghurt, house made granola and mixed berries), bircher muesli (ground seeds softened with fresh fruit, juice and coconut yoghurt), banana pancakes with berry complete and whipped coconut cream and zucchini and kale fritters with crispy bacon strips and sweet chilli onion jam.
People had beautiful coloured drinks in front of them in all kinds of shades of yellow and green. For example, there was a green detox (celery, cucumber, kale, kiwi and lime) and a smoothie of tropical fruit salad blended with ice and and coconut milk.
When I did get a seat I found I did need to order from the lunch menu. I had a mango avocado and macadamia salad with salmon and a chilli lime dressing ($19). I also made the mistake of having a BulletProof Coffee. It tasted fantastic but was incredibly filling.
For what this amazing coffee entails click here. It is a coffee that keeps you going for hours and should not really be had with a meal.
There were so many gorgeous desserts including Anzac biscuits, mousses and cakes that I would have loved one but the BulletProof coffee had put an end to that. (There are all kinds of natural sweeteners you can use on the paleo way of eating including Rapadura sugar).
Other people were tucking into plates of grass sirloin steak, pistachio and coconut crusted ocean fish and pork belly with a sage balsamic glaze served with roasted root vegetable and baked apples (mains ranged from $13 to $21 dollars.)
Kids were well catered for with items such as paleo bolognaise (using sweet potato noodles) and coconut crumbed fish with a more natural form of tomato sauce.
Despite the crowds the service was pleasant and efficient. I spoke to the owner who could hardly quell her rapture as the cafe has been such a resounding success even though it has only just opened and logically should have been slowly drumming up trade rather than flourishing.
One of the things about eating paleo is that you often have to go to lots of different foodstores to source your foodstuffs. For example, I go to a butcher a couple of suburbs away to buy grass fed meat, a health food shop for coconut flour, a farmer's market for fruit and vegetable and so on.
The Paleo Cafe stocks heaps of grocery items in their store. Something I grabbed to take home was paleo bread (bread without grains). They also had a sensational granola (recipe here) with nuts and seeds and paleo mayonnaise. Stuff you just can't get elsewhere.
They also had quite a few reasonably priced take home meals such as soups and coconut curries.
So the message is that this chain of paleo cafes are thriving. They make for an interesting change in terms of culinary cuisine, as well as being good for you! It might however be worth checking what the quietest time is to visit one.
What a brilliant idea. I've been eating a slightly modified paleo version and have often wondered why we never had a paleo cafe in Sydney or anywhere else in Australia before. I find it difficult to eat out generally. Great article, I'll be checking them out very soon.