If you know anyone who works out at Shoreline Crossfit, you’ve probably heard of the paleo diet. Or you’ve seen the paleo-approved signs at several Branford restaurants, including the Parthenon, Pasta Cosi, Margarita’s, Mango’s and the Meat House.
What is Paleo?
Dave Plumey, one of the owners of Shoreline Crossfit, explained the diet and its origins, noting that while the paleo diet is the nutrition plan his gym advocates, it has extensive roots with Loren Cordain being a ‘founder’ of the paleo diet.
“This diet has been around for a long time and wasn’t created for Crossfit, but it gets people to be at their best potential in terms of energy and body weight,” said Plumey. “You eat lean meats, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds; but no sugars, no dairy, no starches.”
Plumey admits that the diet can be a challenge, but he points out that it is non-portion controlled so “you eat when you’re hungry.”
Eat Out, Eat Paleo
Shoreline Crossfit draws members from throughout the area and Plumey admits that it’s membership is a bit more expensive than most gyms. For that reason, Plumey aims to give his members even more benefits.
Not only does the gym have ready-to-go paleo meals delivered by Cross Cuisines (operated by Amarante’s) to the gym available to members, paleo is now becoming a common option on many local restaurants’ menus thanks to Shoreline Crossfit.
“Our clients were going out to eat and trying to look for healthy options,” explained Plumey. “They’d try to modify when ordering but sometimes the restaurants weren’t using the best oils or didn’t have the best vegetable options.”
So Shoreline Crossfit met with some local restaurants, starting with the Parthenon Diner, followed quickly by Pasta Cosi, Mango’s, Margarita’s and The Meathouse with menus in the works with 10 other restaurants.
“We sat down with the owners, managers and chefs and worked with their ingredients and within their menus to create paleo offerings,” said Plumey.
Dave Sullivan, general manager at the Parthenon, was excited about expanding the diner’s menu.
“It’s been very popular – the only issue we’ve had is the lack of people’s awareness of it,” said Sullivan. “We have paleo specials that are always available.”
What’s on the Menu?
So, what can one expect to find on a paleo menu and what can be paleo at a restaurant called Pasta Cosi?
Billy DiLegge, owner of Pasta Cosi, has been following the paleo diet and participating in the Lurong Living Paleo Challenge. He’s also been busy adapting the menu at his restaurant to include items including Chilled Seafood Salad, Mean Greens and Sicilian Tuna Salad (see photos). He also has adapted many of his pasta dishes by using spaghetti squash.
“The challenge motivates me to do it even more,” said DiLegge. “And I’m working on a paleo pasta, too.”
Plumey said that Pasta Cosi adapting its menu helped convince others to give it a try, too.
“Once people saw that a pasta restaurant could work around it and was getting a ton of revenue from it, people wanted to jump on board,” said Plumey.
At the Parthenon, Sullivan described ‘The Diane,’ which is London broil served with broccoli rabe, garlic and olive oil, and ‘The Nancy,’ which is a grilled chicken breast with a side of sautéed broccoli, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes as just two of their paleo menu items.
Mango’s is offering a hamburger with a leaner beef, skipping the bread and cheese but adding sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms to the top. And instead of French fries, a vegetable like broccoli rabe or spinach. There’s also a pulled pork ‘sandwich’ with lean pork and not heavy on barbecue sauce served on a sweet potato cake.