Have your jeans been feeling a little…. snug lately? We don’t blame you, and we aren’t here to judge. Ramadan usually tends to mess up our eating habits and confuses our bodies. It is a beautiful and special time of year (this year being no exception) but for your waistline? Not so much. And then there’s Eid Al Fitr. Don’t even get us started on the challenges of not eating everything in sight during Eid – because after all, it is a holiday!
After spending a few months prior to Ramadan following strict meal plans and workout regimens, I managed to successfully lose close to ten kilos. Of course, when Ramadan rolled around, the nightmarish possibility of gaining back at least half, if not all, of that weight within the course of a month became a dangerous reality.
Leading up to Ramadan, I called up Chef Paul and arranged for a life (and tummy) saving week of Paleo meals to be sent to the office, via his service, Paleo Paul.
Paleo Paul is a concept created and run by Chef Paul Kopecny, whose interest in cooking stems from days spent in his native Czech Republic. Paul’s career as a chef began quite early, with an impressive resume boasting experience in worldwide cities such as Prague, Vienna, Berlin and New York. His vast experience enriched him with knowledge about the culinary business, and this shows in his cooking. Coupled with his vehement Paleo dietary ethos, what started out as preparing Paleo meals for just a few of his friends in Kuwait, evolved into a meal plan business catering to those who want to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle despite their busy schedules.
What is Paleo? For those who are unfamiliar, Paleo is a dietary practice that preaches going “back to basics”, or eating like our cavemen ancestors would have. The rules are as follows when it comes to eating Paleo: eat real food, restrict yourself from gluten, dairy, refined sugar, genetically modified ingredients, wheat… basically, anything sinfully bad for you.
But the misconception ends there. I’ll have to admit, as a cheese addict, I was nervous when sealing the deal with Paleo Paul to try their meals from Sunday to Thursday, but I found myself pleasantly surprised and actually looking forward to the meal boxes that would magically appear at our office every day at promptly 12:30.
The food had a habit of expanding my palate to dishes I never even thought possible to create or combine. Salads were fresh and offered a delightful marriage of fruits and vegetable such as day four’s cucumber, carrot and radish mélange with a coconut garlic dressing, or mango, clementine and chia seeds. Main meals were hearty, always including a glorious cut of protein, sometimes transformed and other times in pure form. I was particularly fond of day five’s meatloaf with carrot and bacon, accompanied with a side of roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
Chef Paul is also known to include innovative surprises in his dishes, starting with his Paleo bread – oh, that Paleo bread! You wouldn’t even know that it was made without all those yummy bits that make bread so addictive! My personal favorite part of the bread was the incorporated seeds that gave it a pleasant crunch, but I was also fond of the Paleo friendly tortillas he used to make day three’s turkey tortilla with mango dip dinner.
Lest we forget the show-stopping desserts. It became a ritual for everyone in the office to grab a utensil of choice to dig into my dessert at around 4 p.m., and of course, I didn’t mind sharing! (Until we got to the avocado banana brownie with pistachio and goji berries – I practically bit off someone’s hand for taking a chunk that I deemed “too big”.)
The Paleo Paul plans range, but what we were getting was valued at KD 80: salad, lunch, dinner, and dessert, rounding up to an intake of roughly 1220 calories – the perfect amount required to lose weight. When signing up for Paleo Paul’s meal plans, you have the option to register for one, two or four weeks of Paleo eating. The Paleo Paul team is also extremely accommodating to people’s dietary restrictions, encouraging you to communicate with them the foods you don’t like or can’t eat so that they can substitute ingredients to better suit your palate.
The perks to eating Paleo is that all the fresh ingredients you’re consuming, not to mention the quality protein cooked with care in Paul’s kitchen, helps keep you feeling full, satisfied and energized daily. Also, the Paleo Paul meals gave me so much energy and helped me feel lighter, and I noticed a difference in my workouts– even my personal trainer was impressed! All in all, my Paleo Paul experience was extremely delightful, and I’m looking forward to trying it again, for a longer period of time.